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Five Quick and Easy Outdoor Projects

Whether you're in a new home and want to spiff it up a bit to boost curb appeal, or if your home is up for sale and you're adding a little extra to make the homestead more attractive for potential buyers, it never hurts to add a little window-dressing.

These don't have to be extensive or expensive projects; a little effort goes a long way.

Let's look at a few of them.

Project #1: Dress up Your Front Steps

Your front steps lead to your front door, which is the focal point of most homes when visitors first arrive. To further enhance this eye-magnet and to give it a warm and inviting feel, dress it up with a sturdy, solid-looking planter on either side. Which shape should you use? That really depends on the configuration of your home.

Some two- or three-story homes benefit from tall urn-style planters. This emphasizes the soaring height of your home. Sprawling ranch style homes look more at home with low, rectangular, terracotta planters.

Choose flower colors that complement or contrast with the color scheme of your home.

Project #2: Refreshing a Tired Concrete Slab

Do you have a boring, drab, gray patio, sidewalk, or basketball court? It doesn't have to be that way. Why not brighten it up with a concrete acid stain? These are really very innovative in today's market. Envision a marble-looking surface, another natural stone finish, or a mural. You're limited only by your imagination. Well, that, and maybe your homeowner's association.

Project #3: Give Your Outdoor Furniture a Facelift

The problem with outdoor furniture is that it gets weathered so slowly that the homeowner might not notice the gradual transition until one day you find yourself saying, "What in the name of Sam Hill happened here?"

But a visitor hasn't witnessed the gradual decline, so to him it'll stick out like a sore thumb. Solution? Clean them up! For plastic furniture, make a mixture of washing soda (also known as soda ash or sodium carbonate) with hot water at a ratio of a half-cup to 1 gallon.

Wearing gloves, swab the furniture with the mixture, wait 10 minutes, and spray it down with a hose to rinse it. Repeat if needed.

Aluminum furniture can also be rejuvenated. Don't try to use scouring powders; they're too harsh and will scratch. Instead, use Soft Scrub and it'll be sparkling in no time flat!

Project #4: Add Birdhouses to Your Property

Birdhouses add a wonderful touch to your property and make it more inviting. You can buy these and put them up in a jiffy. Don't forget the bird seed to attract the species you're interested in. If you like song birds and strong color like cardinals, provide a mixture with a heavy ratio of black oily sunflower seeds.

One of the most beneficial birds that you can attract with the appropriate birdhouse is the Purple Martin. This species eats an astounding number of mosquitoes, keeping them away from you in an environmentally sustainable way.

Don't forget to add a birdbath for our winged friends to bathe in and drink from. No need to get too fancy; find a large stone with a scooped-out indentation and keep water in it.

If you've just moved, this can be a great project to help your kids feel good about their new home – involve them with picking a birdhouse (or helping you build one), and then installing it and putting food in it.

Project #5: Paint Your Front Door

As we pointed out in project #1, your home's front door is one of the most eye-grabbing features of your home. It gets grubby from hand prints and constant exposure to the elements. Why not give it a fresh coat of paint?

For a truly professional look, take it off the hinges, sand it smooth, and then spray it with primer and paint. Otherwise, give it a good cleaning first. Then chip any spots that are losing their grip and spot prime. Give it a fresh coat of paint and you're good to go.

These are just a few quick projects that can have a huge impact on the look of your home. Try them out and use your imagination for others.


Essential Repairs to Your New Home

How to Set Your Home Improvement Plan

Kelly Smith is a former software engineer at NASA and a professional handyman who is now a full-time writer.

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