10 One-Hour Backyard Improvement Projects

backyard improvement ideas

We all want better backyards, but we do not always have the time it would take to create ideal outdoor living areas for relaxing and entertaining.

There are plenty of ways to improve the exterior spaces of your home, but if you have a busy schedule, you may not have a full weekend or a full week to commit to do-it-yourself backyard improvements.

Of course, you can always call in the professionals, but if your budget is tight or you are the type of homeowner who prefers to do things yourself, then this might not be an option.

For busy homeowners who want better outdoor entertaining areas, the key is finding the time to complete projects that will get you one step closer to having the backyard of your dreams.

Making time is not always easy, but these one-hour backyard improvement projects can help inspire you to focus your efforts and spend your spare time creating and improving outdoor spaces for you, your family and your guests to enjoy.

Quick Backyard Improvement Projects: Getting Started

If your schedule is too packed to officially set aside time for home improvements, you may have to rely on spare time you can scrape together to work on your yard between other commitments.

Preparation is essential for taking advantage of time that might unexpectedly become available when an appointment gets cancelled or your kids are invited to a friend’s house for an impromptu play date.

Here are four steps to help ensure successful project preparation and help you best use your spare time to improve your outdoor living areas:

 Solar Landscape Lighting

1. Assess the Situation

The first step in any home improvement project is to assess the current situation, including making a note of what you already have that could simply be improved, what is missing and needs to be added to make your yard more functional or more enjoyable, and what needs to be removed to enhance the visual appeal of your yard.

2. Prioritize

Once you have an idea of what you would like to remove, add or improve, determine which projects are most important to you and need to be completed first.

Since you do not have much time to spare for yard work, this will help you decide where to focus your efforts when you do find time.

Solar Landscape Lighting

3. Make a Plan

Now that you know what you want to do to improve your yard and the order in which you want to do it, it’s time to make two lists: a to-do list and a supplies list.

Your to-do list should include all of the tasks that need to be completed in the order you plan to complete them.

Include every task you can think of, no matter how small.

This way, even when you complete a five-minute task you will be able to check it off the list.

Accomplishing even small steps and noting the progress will help you stay motivated.

You will also want to make a list of the tools and supplies needed to complete your projects, which will make it easier to make sure you have everything you need to improve your outdoor living spaces.

4. Purchase Supplies and Tools

The first time you have an hour or two to spare, head to your local home improvement store with your supplies list.

Start gathering the supplies and tools you need for each project so that you will have them on hand when you find time to work on your to-do list.

Busy folks have to take advantage of free time whenever it comes up, so having the supplies you need ready to go will help you maximize that time and accomplish more without having to waste time running to the hardware store.

10 One-Hour Backyard Improvement Projects

Your to-do list will be specific to your home and your needs, but here are 10 project ideas that might provide some inspiration and can help you get your backyard in shape one hour at a time.

1. Clear the Clutter

There is no point in installing a fantastic water feature or the perfect pergola if the space you are supposed to be using for outdoor entertaining is filled with toys or yard maintenance tools.

Therefore, the first task in any plan to improve your backyard should be clearing the clutter.

Find a permanent home for dog beds, children’s toys, yard tools and other necessary items so that they can be put away when not in use.

Remove unnecessary items from the area to free up more space for entertaining and create a clutter-free area for relaxing.

To get the yard you want, you need to remove unwanted and unnecessary things before you can start adding features to enhance your outdoor living spaces.

Therefore, now is also a good time to remove any unwanted or dead plants and bushes.

 home improvement ideas

2. Trim Trees, Hedges and Bushes

The next step to a better backyard is grabbing your hedge trimmers and taking on those overdue pruning tasks.

Trim low-hanging tree branches, get your hedges back in shape and tame the bushes that are threatening to take over your yard.

If these tasks are seriously overdue, this may take more than an hour, but you can break it up into one-hour chunks to help you get through it.

This step is an important part of cleaning up your yard and needs to happen before you can begin any significant backyard improvements, so this one should be high on your list of priorities.

3. Repair and Replace

Next, you will want to consider landscaping features that are already in your yard that are in need of repair or replacement.

Do you have a pond that could be an attractive feature but needs a new pump?

If so, use your spare time to start making these repairs to get your current features in working order.

flower beds

4. Hang String Lights

One of the easiest and quickest ways to improve an outdoor entertaining space is to hang string lights.

This simple lighting option is perfect for illuminating dark corners, adding soft lighting to set the mood and providing a finishing touch to your patio décor.

There are plenty of choices available, so you should have no trouble finding the perfect set to fit your needs.

You can hang the lights from the rafters of a covered patio or along the top of a pergola, and you can even find string lights specifically designed for patio umbrellas.

They also come in a variety of shapes and designs, including traditional Christmas-style lights, Chinese lanterns, dragonflies, cacti, mini camping lanterns, and even lights that look like those very popular, red, plastic party cups.

This simple, quick backyard improvement project is perfect for outdoor entertaining areas that just need a little something to complete the look and create the right atmosphere.

5. Paint Your Planters

Container gardens are a great choice for folks who like to garden but who do not have a lot of time to dedicate to yard work.

If you are also a bit on the crafty side and like to paint, you can take on this easy project to enhance the look of your yard and patio.

Simply adding a pop of vibrant color or refreshing the look of faded planters can help transform a lackluster space into an inviting entertaining area.

Unless you have gone a bit wild with the container gardening, you should be able to paint a few planters in about an hour.

Just make sure to allow plenty of drying time before putting them back on your patio.

6. Install Solar Path Lights

Solar landscape lighting has no electrical wiring.

This means that you do not have to place your lights near an outlet, or bury or hide wires when installing your lights.

It also means that you can place them anywhere you would like and at varying distances, since they are not connected by wires.

Because they are powered by the sun – which we have plenty of in Southern California – you can also save money while you beautify your yard in an eco-friendlier fashion.

On top of all of this, solar-powered landscape lighting is simple and super-quick to install, since you basically just pick a spot and stick the stake in the ground.

This makes installing solar walkway lights an easy, quick home improvement that will help guide the flow of traffic through your yard, increase the safety of your family and guests, and enhance the visual appeal of your yard.

7. Install Hooks to Hang Plants

Does your patio need a bit more privacy, color or visual interest?

If so, you can accomplish all three by hanging flower pots.

Take an hour to install hooks along the top of your patio, porch or pergola, and hang planters filled with colorful blooms to block your neighbor’s view and bring new life to your outdoor living areas.

ceiling fan

8. Update Your Patio Ceiling Fan

Patio ceiling fans can go a long way to make patios more comfortable during our hot Southern California summers.

Unfortunately, styles and trends change, and an older ceiling fan is one thing that can make your outdoor entertaining space look dated and in need of a style update.

If you have an existing, functioning ceiling fan already installed, swapping it out for a new one is an easy project that won’t take much time at all.

It does require some very basic knowledge of electrical wiring, but the instructions that come with your new fan should be a big help.

If you do not have a ceiling fan and wish to install one where you currently have an overhead light, this is a bigger project that will take more than an hour, but it is possible.

If you want to install a ceiling fan and there is no light fixture or wiring currently installed, it is usually best to call in a professional.

9. Feed Your Flowers

Things like fertilizing often fall to the wayside when our schedules fill up with work, family and social obligations.

Because of this, those annuals that we so lovingly planted to bring color to our backyards can lose their luster.

It only takes a few minutes to feed your flowers with a slow-release fertilizer that will help them stay healthy and blooming to their fullest potential.

By going with a slow-release fertilizer, you can keep your flowers looking fantastic with longer intervals between feedings.

10. Bring on the Mulch

Groundcovers like mulch, compost and shredded bark can help you save time and money.

By spending an hour spreading mulch or compost around the plants in your backyard you can reduce weed growth, add nutrients to the soil, improve water retention and soil moisture, and improve the look of your yard.

Therefore, maintaining a thick layer of one of these groundcovers means fewer weeds to pull, less time spent watering, less water used for landscaping irrigation and more inviting outdoor spaces for you, your family and your guests to enjoy.

Compost Bin

Quick Backyard Improvement Projects: Final Thoughts

Making significant changes to your outdoor living areas takes time and money, but you can take steps in the right direction by dedicating small allotments of time to yard maintenance and improvement tasks.

Taking on small projects one at a time can also help you spread out the expense of home improvements and can help you achieve your goals for your outdoor living areas.

It just takes a bit of patience, since it will take a little more time to get the backyard retreat of your dreams.

It can be difficult to stay motivated when progress is slow, but the important part is recognizing that you are working towards your end goal – even if it might take you a while to get there.

When your schedule is packed with other obligations, yard work is usually the last thing you want to do when you have spare time, but dedicating just one hour at a time to improving your backyard will help you create outdoor living areas for you and your family to enjoy long into the future.

Photo Credits (in order of appearance): morgueFile, jade; morgueFile, earl53; morgueFile, cohdra; morgueFile, pippalou; morgueFile, suezoo