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pergola ideas for small patios

The best pergolas for small patios are multi-purpose.

When my parents sought a townhome in the city (as part of their quest to live in a more walkable area than the sprawling town they had been living in), they were thrilled to find that their top pick had a small patio and “micro yard.” It was this outdoor space that sealed the deal! But actually decorating and making use of that small space would prove to be quite challenging.

My mom–who has a few courses in decorating under her belt–explained to my dad that the key to creating a beautiful outdoor space is to give the area defined boundaries, so it feels more like a room instead of a wide open space. But my parents were facing a challenge because they were tasked with creating a space with defined borders while also preventing that space from feeling small or “closed in.”

So how do you balance these two factors? Well, it is achievable with the right strategy, and my parents’ strategy involved a pergola. Pergolas are ideal for small patios and tiny urban yards because they offer structure to your outdoor space without adding solid visual barriers like you would with something like a wooden stockade fence. You can see through the open and airy rafters of a pergola, and that makes it possible to avoid creating a space that feels small and boxed in. We came across a lot of pergola ideas for small patios in our research, and here are some of the ones we liked best.

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how to make a fence look better

A good stain and high-quality, decorative hardware can take a fence from bland or even outright ugly to a stylish complement to your home.

When we moved into our house, it was very clear that the old fence had been installed with just one thing in mind: utility. Let’s not mince words: this fence was just plain ugly and aesthetics were obviously not taken into consideration.

We purchased the house as a bit of a fixer-upper, so it was basically impossible to convince my wife that we should postpone an interior remodeling project and instead, put the money toward installing a new fence. Yet the summer months were rapidly approaching and our family tends to spend a lot of time outdoors, grilling, playing and just enjoying the warm weather. I knew I couldn’t make it through an entire summer looking at that eyesore so I set out on a mission to find ways to improve that awful fence.

It took some hard work, but I was able to transform our fence into something that was actually quite attractive. In fact, I may even allow it to remain standing for a couple more years before we invest in a replacement. So if you’re wondering how to make a fence look better, I have a few answers. It’s all about getting creative and understanding why your fence is so unsightly in the first place.

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making a dog window in a fence

A decorative metal fence insert can make a strong, beautiful dog window in a fence or gate.

I have a paranoid dog. She’s sweet but she has an anxious streak. That’s something that caused me to nearly stop letting her out in my front yard. Someone would walk down the street, and little Hershey would hear a noise and immediately start barking. She couldn’t tell if they were coming onto my property or not, because my yard is hidden from the road by a fence. So, I guess she figured ‘better safe than sorry,’ and just started barking. But before I decided to ban her from the yard, I considered the alternative–making a dog window in my fence.

It worked. When she could see the people on the street, they made her less anxious. She stopped barking at all the passersby and we got to enjoy the yard again. It was an easy fix. I was able to do it with a couple of sturdy fence inserts and a few hours of time. If you have an anxious dog like mine, I can’t recommend making a dog window in your fence enough. It might not work for every dog, but it definitely worked for mine. Here’s the down-low on dog fence inserts.

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turn deck railing into a bar

With beautiful, tough hardware, some wood, and a good wood stain, you can create the bar area of your dreams.

I love reinventing spaces to transform an existing area into something new. The pavilion I built in the backyard recently was a fabulous project, but it lacked one key component: a bar. That’s when my wife had the idea to turn a section of the wooden deck railing into a bar top, complete with bar stools. Genius. Now we can enjoy an outdoor bar under my mini cooking pavilion.

This bar top project was actually a bit more involved than I’d expected, and it required some special hardware, but once all was said and done, we had a wonderful bar that let us enjoy a few drinks while looking out at the grass and woods behind our home. So what did it take to transform a normal deck railing into a bar? Well, it required some creativity, the right hardware, and a desire for a fabulous outdoor entertainment area.

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how to choose a stain color for a fence

The right stain can make a huge difference in how well your fence or pergola fits with the look of your home and yard.

I’ve always been pretty good at building things, but choosing decorative elements has never been my strong point. So, I found myself facing a challenge as I set out to choose the right stain color for my new fence. It was a high-stakes decision because stain is not like paint, which sits on the wood’s surface. Stain literally soaks into the wood, staining it. You basically have only one shot because the alternative—layering stain colors—can result in a muddy mess. So if you don’t like the color you’ve chosen, you’re more or less stuck with it until sun and time fade the color, allowing you to re-stain it a different shade. But that can take years, particularly if you’re using a high-quality stain product that’s designed to resist fading!

Acknowledging that aesthetic choices are far outside my comfort zone, I struggled to pick out the right stain color for my new fence and matching pergola. So I endeavored to learn all I could about how to choose a stain color for a fence. I’ve compiled some of the most useful tips to help other DIYers who are facing a similar decision.

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pergola ideas for shade

If your pergola is in a sunny area, adding a covering or something to provide shade can make it more pleasant.

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. That’s something I learned when I realized I’d put my pergola in the sunniest part of my yard. Those high noon rays left it near abandoned during the middle of the day, so I decided to look into options like covering it or adding an awning. That’s part of what I love about pergolas: their flexibility.

Pergolas are a great option for a do-it-yourself shady spot because they provide cover, but you control how much. You can break up the sunlight with real or faux vines and plants. Or you can block it out entirely with fabric coverings. Either way, you can make your outdoor space usable again even on hot sunny days. There are a lot of clever pergola ideas for shade that will look great and last a long time, provided you use the right materials.

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Best Pergola Decorating IdeasDecorative, powder-coated hardware can take your pergola to the next level, making it look more finished and elegant.

I spent a couple weekends constructing my new pergola. I was really happy with the finished result, but when my wife emerged from the house to check out my creation, she said: “It’s nice….but it’s too bare. It needs some decoration!”

At first, I was a bit insulted. After all, I’d spent the better part of two weekends working on this project; how could it be anything but fabulous? But if I’m honest with myself, my wife’s words echoed a thought that had already crossed my mind a couple times. So we were tasked with coming up with some pergola decorating ideas. It actually turned into a rather fun project and as I looked at photos on my tablet, I found some great inspiration for new backyard DIY projects.

You have lots of pergola decor options to choose from, depending upon your own personal style and preferences. You’ll also want to be sure you consider the look of your home and any nearby structures to ensure a cohesive feel. Consider these pergola decorating ideas to bring your new structure to life.
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pergola vs gazebo

Both pergolas and gazebos make great areas for entertaining and relaxing, although DIYers should know that pergolas are a simpler project.

It took a bit of searching, but you finally found the perfect house. There’s just one problem: the yard isn’t exactly inviting and you love to entertain! A fabulous backyard is an absolute must-have for your new home, but you have to work with what you have. To spruce it up, you’ve narrowed it down to just two possibilities: pergola vs. gazebo. But choosing isn’t easy and the right choice will vary depending upon your individual preferences.

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How to Easily Install a Fence Post Near or Next to Your House With a Post Hole Digger Tool

A post anchor provides an easy way to install fence posts without leaving piles of dirt or requiring a lot of space.

You finally gave in and brought home that puppy your kids have been talking about for months—but now that little ball of fur needs room to run…outside of the house. That backyard fence you’ve been meaning to install is suddenly a priority this summer. The great news is that it’s a fairly straightforward process even for a beginner weekend DIYer, with one exception: that tricky spot where the fence meets the house.

Whether you’re installing a backyard fence to contain a new puppy or adding an ornamental fence and gate to spruce up your front yard, you’ll need to use some caution and common sense when deciding how to install a fence post near or next to your house without causing any damage to your home or underground utility lines and pipes. And, you should know what’s out there to help DIYers like yourself, specifically a handy product called a post hole digger tool. So are you ready for the 411 on installing fence posts? Let’s dig in.

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how to build a raised wooden planter box

A raised wooden planter box keeps your deck dry and your plants happy, and it isn’t hard to build.

Delving into a new DIY project can be exciting, but if you lack experience, you may be left wondering just where to begin. The key to a smooth and successful backyard DIY project is understanding what materials you’ll need to gather before you can tackle the project. It also helps to explore all your options: There are few things worse than finishing a project only to see a photo on Pinterest that leaves you saying, “I wish I’d thought of that!”

If your deck is looking a bit stark and “under-dressed” this summer, these easy DIY flower bed ideas can add pops of color and character to your outdoor living space, enhancing the aesthetics of your backyard retreat. Placing a planter box directly onto your wooden decking, though, can discolor it due to uneven sun exposure or, even worse, water can get trapped between the box and the surface of the deck, resulting in mold, rotting, and degradation. Explore how to build a raised, wooden planter box to add the bright, natural beauty of colorful flower beds, without risking any damage to your deck.
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