Treat your backyard as an extension of your home and decorate it with these clever family craft projects.
Create a children's garden in old toys. Bonus feature: You can wheel them in and out of the sunlight when necessary. Use a metal drill bit to create drainage holes about 6" apart, and cover with screen mesh to prevent any loss of soil.
Paint plastic jars with outdoor craft paint and create a handle with colorful wire (12-gauge colored wire, $6; jamaligarden.com). Use a battery-powered candle to illuminate the lantern at night and explore your backyard's wildlife.
Use vinyl sheeting to make a classic lawn ornament that can survive the elements.
What You'll Need: Thick plastic or vinyl sheeting (available at fabric stores), scissors, 1/4" hole punch, skewers, glue, 2"-long nail (shank should be less than 1/4" in diameter), hammer, hot-glue gun, 1"-thick dowel, button
1. Cut two 8"x8" vinyl squares and stack with one on top of the other.
2. Cut 4 1/2" slits from each corner toward the center through both squares. Punch a hole to the right of each slit near upper edge.
3. Trim four skewers to 5" and glue between the layers of vinyl to the left of each slit. This keeps the points of the pinwheel from folding in.
4. Punch a hole in the center of the two stacked squares using a nail. Fold all hole-punched flaps up to the center hole, line up the holes, and insert the nail through all four holes.
5. Hammer nail into side of the dowel, then hot-glue button to nail head.
Set in Stone
Set in Stone
Use rock-garden markers to label plants and herbs.
What You'll Need: Large, smooth stones, fabric scraps, pinking shears, letter stamps, VersaCraft ink pad ($8; rubberstampplace.com), iron, craft glue, outdoor matte or glossy varnish (Delta Ceramcoat Protect Exterior/Interior Varnish, $4; sears .com), brush
1. Cut fabric with pinking shears so that it mostly covers the top of the stone.
2. Stamp name of plant on fabric and let dry. Iron to set ink.
3. Put 3 to 4 small dots of glue around the edge of the back of the fabric and set on top of the stone.
4. Brush a thick coat of varnish over fabric and down and around edges of the rock. Let dry completely. Repeat with a second coat and let dry.
Feed the feathered friends in your yard with this cool canopy bird feeder. To watch a how-to video, download our tablet edition at parents.com/digital or go to parents.com/bird-feeder.
What You'll Need: Bamboo bowl (Bamboo Studio 7" square bowls, $7 for eight; internatural.com), bamboo plate (Bamboo Studio 11" round plates, $9 for eight; internatural.com), outdoor craft paint, paintbrush, 1/8" hole punch, colored twine, scissors, colored beads, sharp tool, tacky glue
1. Paint the bottom of the bowl and the bottom of the plate. Let dry.
2. With a hole punch, punch holes in the corners of the bowl. Cut four lengths of twine (2 to 3 feet long) and thread twine down through the holes; knot securely underneath.
3. Thread small beads onto each strand to rest at each corner of the bowl. Tie all four strands together with a knot about 6" above the top rim of bowl.
4. Poke a hole in the center of the plate with sharp object. Make sure hole is big enough so that all strands of twine can feed through it. Insert strands into hole in plate and let it rest on knot.
5. Glue beads in desired pattern around the twine, with one bead in the center; thread strands through center bead.
Paint 14"- to 18"-long sticks and hammer them into the ground about 3" apart with a rubber mallet. Weave thin nylon rope through them to create a colorful border for your garden.
Into the Wind
Into the Wind
Listen to the tinkling sounds of buttons, bells, and bottle caps with this outdoor chime.
What You'll Need: Bottle caps (crown bottle caps, $3 to $4 for 50; amazon.com), outdoor craft paint (optional), paintbrush (optional), fishing line, scissors, bells, tacky glue, buttons, 4"-tall flowerpot (plastic or ceramic) with a hole in the bottom, hot-glue gun
1. Paint bottle caps in the colors of your choice. Let dry. (Skip this step if buying colored bottle caps.)
2. Cut seven 18" pieces of fishing line. Tie a bell to the end of each strand.
3. Put a dot of tacky glue on bottle cap, set the fishing line in the glue (starting about an inch above the bell), and sandwich it with a button. Repeat five or six times per strand, about 12" up the piece of fishing line. Let dry.
4. Feed the ends of all strands through the holes of a large button (it must be bigger than the pot's drainage hole) and secure with a knot about 4 1/2" above the top bottle cap. Feed the strands up through the drainage hole.
5. So that the strands don't cluster in the middle, hot-glue fishing line to the inside edge of the pot, evenly spaced around the circumference.
6. Tie another piece of fishing line in a tight knot to the top to hang.
Originally published in the June 2012 issue of Parents magazine.