8 outdoor projects to start this summer

Whether its a raised bed for growing herbs and veggies, a shed for coordinating garden tools or a living wall in a courtyard, we all have a few big-ticket items on our dream garden listing. Heres your defraud sheet on what to know and how to make it happen.

1. Construct a Raised Bed

Increase the ease of growing herbs, veggies, blooms and berries by installing a raised bed. These large-scale planting boxes improve soil drainage, save your back as you plant and tend the garden, and expand growing options in areas with poor clay . All in all, raised beds can really boost your gardening potential.

Need a permit? Many district building departments necessitate permits for created beds, as they consider them retaining walls for soil . Low beds under a certain height are often an exception and would not require a permit. Check with your local building department for permitting requirements.

diy or hire a pro? If youre confident employing basic building tools such as drills and levels, you can build a created bed on your own. If you do not have access to a hacksaw, ask the home improvement store where you purchase the boards to cut them to your specifications.( Arrive with specific lengths required .) Not experienced with construction? Hire an installer.

Range of cost : Cost depends on materials selected for your raised bed and the overall design. Materials for a 4-foot-wide, 8-foot-long and 1-foot-tall created bed, including redwood or cedar committees, screwings and bulk soil to fill the bed, will run $200 to $300. Hiring a pro to design, build and install a raised bed can expense $350 to $800 and more depending on the high levels of the bed, the design and where you live.

2. Add a Deck

Expand your outdoor living space and outdoor entertaining potential with a deck. Decks can help solve issues with slopes or soggy ground by creating a dry, flat region for outdoor eating and relaxing.

Need a permit ? In general, yes. If your deck is more than 200 square feet, is higher than 30 inches off the ground or includes retaining walls more than 3 feet high, youll likely need work permits. Check with your local building department for permitting requirements. diy or hire a pro ? Unless youre experienced in construction, hire a contractor. For decks more than 6 feet off the ground, hire an engineer. If youre confident in your building skills and planning on building it yourself, be sure to check your local build codes and find out what permits are required. Range of cost : Price depends on design, materials, size and geographic location. A small to medium deck( 12 by 18 feet) can range from $10,000 to $15,000, while a larger deck( between 300 and 500 square feet) can cost $20,000 to $30,000 in the Washington , D.C ., area. According to Houzzs Real Cost Finder, an average deck expenses about $14,000 in San Francisco; $6,848 in Austin, Texas; and $4,392 in Little Rock, Arkansas.

3. Update Your Garden Walkways

Elevate the design of your garden or front walkway by replacing simple clay and mulch tracks with those made of pavers, such as flagstone, cut stone or cement, set into gravel. The new walkways will help keep mud down, aid in drainage and give your garden a finished look.

Need a permit ? In general, the need for a permit depends on whether youre installing a new pathway or replacing an old one, and on the size of the proposed design. Check with your local build department for permitting requirements. DIY or hire a pro ? For large-scale or complicated designs, hire a contractor. You can tackle a simple flagstone or cut stone pathway if youre experienced use tools such as a tamper and a level, and comfy with installing pathway edging and leveling pavers. Range of cost : Cost varies widely depending on materials and the size and design of the pathway. Budget $ 25 to $50 per square foot for a professionally installed route( including design, materials and labor ). If youre planning on doing the design and installation yourself, you can easily pay less than half that per square foot, depending on materials selected.

4. Add a Garden Shed

Organize garden tools, empty pots, bags of soil, fertilizers and amendments, seeds, stakes and other supplyings and keep them all out of these components in your very own garden shed.

RELATED: Repurpose a Shower Caddy to Organize Garden Tools

Need a permit? Generally, for sheds under 120 square feet , no permit is needed; larger ones require a permit. Check with your local build department regarding county-specific permit and zoning codes. Even if you dont need work permits, keep in mind that zoning often necessitates structures to be sited 3 to 5 feet from the property line.

DIY or hire a pro? Unless youre a skilled builder, its best to purchase an off-the-shelf shed or prefab kit, or to hire a pro. If youre buying an off-the-shelf shed, big-box stores often will offer installing services. For prefab sheds purchased online, there may be an option to hire a crew to help with assembly.

Range of cost : Off-the-shelf sheds made from plastic and resin range from $600 for a 7-by-7-foot shed to $1,500 for a 15 -by-8-foot structure. Prefab sheds from companies that use materials such as cement committee and corrugated metal will start around $7,000 for an 8-by-10-foot shed. Custom-designed and custom-built sheds will cost $50 to $200 per square foot, depending on design, materials and geographic location.

5. Construct a Recirculating Fountain

Fountains of any kind are wonderful additions to the garden and assist bring the landscape to life. They add a soothing voice to the garden, attract birds to come take a drink and act as a striking focal point in planting beds or on patios. A simple recirculating fountain is the easiest kind to add yourself, and you are able to make one with a container “youre supposed to” already have on hand.

Need a permit? In general , no. For larger fountains and those in the front yard, its best to ask your local building department.

DIY or hire a pro ? DIY . Recirculating fountains are easy to construct on your own, particularly with a fountain kit( can be found at garden and home improvement stores or online ).

Range of cost: Expect a fountain kit to expense about $30; more for ones with larger water basins. For the fountain itself, repurpose an empty glazed ceramic container you already have on hand, or plan on purchasing one ($ 40 to $200 or more) for the project.

6. Install a Rain Garden

Turn your scenery into an environmentally friendly habitat and cut down on your water bill by converting a section of your garden into a place designed to catch and drain rain. Rain gardens are effectively dipped areas in the landscape designed to drain rainwater on site rather than having it run into the blizzard drain. In doing so, rain gardens deeply irrigate scenery trees and shrubs and also provide a temporary water source for visiting birds, frogs and insects.

Need a permit? Not usually. Its best to check with your local building department especially if your property has a slope greater than a 10 percentage grade or an overflow drainage connected to a city storm drain.

DIY or hire a pro? Designing and install an rainfall garden is a project you are able to tackle on your own in a weekend or two if you are willing to educate yourself on the necessary design components and moisture-loving plants for your region. Otherwise, hire a scenery professional that specializes in sustainable landscapes.

Range of cost : Cost depends on the size and scale of the rain garden and whether youre hiring a pro or doing the run yourself. In general, expect to pay$ 3 to$ 5 per square foot to install one yourself or$ 7 to $12 per square foot for the help of a professional.

7. Add an Outdoor Kitchen

If its in the budget and you often use your backyard for outdoor cooking and entertaining, this may be the year to splurge on an outdoor kitchen.

RELATED: Kitchen Countertops That Work Great Outdoors

Need a permit? Permit requirements for outdoor kitchens vary, so its best to check with your local build department. At minimum, you will probably be required to site the kitchen a certain distance away from property lines.

DIY or hire a pro? Hire a pro. Youre dealing with gas, water and electrical lines, plus gadgets with a hefty price tag, so its best to leave it to an expert.

Range of cost: Expense differs drastically depending on the materials and design elements grill, sink, oven, mini fridge and more and on whether the kitchen is prefab or custom constructed. Prefab outdoor kitchens are available for about $5,000 from big-box stores. Simple custom designs, such as a 10 -foot-long kitchen island with a place for a grill, cost around $10,000. More elaborate designs can range from $30,000 to $100,000, depending on where you live and the number of design parts you decide to add.

8. Plant a Living Wall

Transform the blank wall of a courtyard into a vibrant, eye-catching garden with the addition of a living wall.

Need a permit? Not usually. If youre considering a really large-scale project, its best to consult your local build department.

DIY or hire a pro ? For smaller living walls, you can purchase a living-wall kit( such as Woolly Pockets) and easily mount these components on the wall and do the planting yourself. For more complicated designs or installings, hire a scenery decorator or living-wall specialist.

Range of cost: Woolly Pockets range from $19 for an 8-inch-wide-by-1-foot-long planting pocket to $100 for a 15 -inch-wide-by-5 1/2 -foot-long vertical system , not including the cost for clay and plants to fill them. Custom-designed living walls can be pricey easily over $1,000 for small installations and up to $10,000 for large-scale living walls.

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