Five DIY projects to tackle over the Easter long weekend
Get your DIY on with these five simple projects to try over the long weekend.
Even if you’re not a pro on the tools, the Easter long weekend gives you time to try your hand at some simple DIY projects. You could build a birdhouse or create a garden pond with the kids, or cosy up for winter by hanging new curtains.
RACV’s trade training manager Andy Anderson says no matter what your skillset is, these are five easy projects to do, and most require basic tools. If you don’t have the right tools or don’t want to hire them, try borrowing from friends or from your local tool library or men’s shed. If you still doubt your abilities, try searching the internet for YouTube how-to videos.
Add a little serenity by digging a backyard pond.
Create your own frog pond
A garden pond will add a touch of serenity to your garden and can be achieved over a long weekend, with a little bit of muscle for the digging.
Buying a pre-formed pond will make things easier, simply trace around the outline with a spray can of marking paint then get digging – ensuring you don’t go too deep. Once you’ve dug the desired shape and depth, pack down the dirt ensuring it’s flat and compact, line it with sand or a synthetic underlay that won’t rot, then pop in your pre-formed pond.
If you don’t have a pre-formed pond and want to use a pond liner, you still need to lay down sand or synthetic underlay – which can be as simple as synthetic carpet or even newspaper – to stop rocks tearing the liner. You then line your hole with the plastic pond liner, making sure it covers the sides and top edges. Secure the liner with flat rocks on the top edges.
Once the pond is built, fill it with water, place some rocks and fish-friendly plants in your pond, add some goldfish or carp and enjoy the serenity.
- Do a test dig before you start to make sure you’re not going to hit hard clay or rock.
- Install a DIY solar pond and fountain pump to avoid the cost of an electrician and ongoing power costs.
- If you’ve dug a little too deep, fill the bottom of the pond with pebbles or rocks.
- Don’t build your pond under overhanging trees that will fill it with leaves.
- While barriers aren't required for bird baths, fountains or fish ponds, even the shallowest of ponds can be a hazard so, if you have young children, make sure they are always supervised around water.
- Pre-formed pond or pond liner, shovel, safety glasses, gloves, marking paint, sand or underlay, flat rocks.
Build a backyard birdhouse
If you enjoy waking to birdsong, why not build your feathered friends their own house in your yard? A birdhouse can be a mansion or a bedsit – it’s up to you – there are dozens of birdhouse plans to download from the internet.
Deciding where you want to place your birdhouse – whether on a tree, attached to the house or on a pole – will help determine the size and style you’re after. Once you’ve chosen your design, you’ll need some rot-resistant timber such as cedar or pine. Trace your plans onto your timber using a ruler and pencil and double-check your measurements before you even think about cutting.
Cut out the sides, roof and floor with a hand saw then use a circular drill bit called a hole saw to cut a round entry hole sized for the species you hope to attract. Drill some ventilation holes in the sides. Glue the sides, floor and roof in place and use a nail or screw to hold them in place until the glue sets.
- Select a position away from your barbecue or communal areas to avoid bird droppings.
- Use a work bench and clamps to hold the timber steady while cutting.
- Don’t use wood that has been treated with fungicides or pesticides or you risk poisoning your garden guests.
- Don’t put your hand close to the hand-saw blade and risk an injury. Clamp the wood to a bench instead of holding it.
- Enough wood for your chosen plan and a thick pole if it’s a stand-alone feature, hand saw, measuring tape, clamp, drill with a hole saw, screws, glue.
Make your home feel cosier by hanging curtains.
Green up your fence
Attaching a trellis to your fence is an easy DIY job you can knock over in an afternoon. You can create a vertical garden using timber lattice readily available from hardware stores, then planting with creepers and climbers. For a touch of fragrance try jasmine, or for colour and perfume plant a climbing rose.
Before you start, carefully measure the area you want to cover to make sure you buy enough trellis. To ensure your creepers have room to grow, you’ll need to allow space between the fence and the trellis. Make small ‘spacers’ about the size of a matchbox from wood offcuts and fix these about a metre apart to the horizontal rails of the fence rather than the vertical palings. Then screw, rather than nail, the trellis to the spacers, ensuring your screws are long enough to penetrate the fence, spacers and trellis.
- Check your fence is strong enough to hold the trellis by giving it a shake.
- Turn your trellis vertically and attach to all three horizontal railings.
- Don’t start without using a spirit level to ensure the trellis is straight.
- Don’t use screws that are too short. You want them to bite 15 millimetres into the railings, but you must add the depth of the lattice and the spacers, so make them around 75 millimetres long.
- Trellis, wood offcuts, saw to make spacer blocks from cutoffs, drill, screwdriver, spirit level, tape measure.
Give your room a paint makeover
If you want to paint a room like a pro, RACV’s Handy Andy has a free online video and step-by-step guide to give your walls a makeover. The four-day holiday is perfect for a one-room transformation, allowing some wriggle-room if things take longer than expected.
Completely empty the room before you begin, and start with good preparation – repair cracks and scrape off loose paint, lightly sand in a circular motion with fine-grit sandpaper, then wash walls with sugar soap. Apply masking tape to areas you don’t want painted and lay down a dropsheet to protect your floors. Cut in around edges then use a roller with extension rod to reach the high spots, and be sure to apply two coats.
- Wrap your brushes or roller in clingwrap to keep them wet for the next coat.
- Make sure your dropsheet is smooth to avoid tripping and give an even surface for your ladder.
- Don’t carry a full paint tin up a ladder. Distil it into a smaller container with a handle.
- Avoid using dark colours which show imperfections in the walls or in the application.
- Roller, paintbrushes, extension pole, masking tape, sturdy ladder, dropsheet, rags.
Cosy up with curtains
Hanging curtains on uncovered windows is a simple way to spruce up a room and add privacy and cosiness while cutting your winter power bills.
Curtains can be expensive so it’s important to measure the size of your window carefully before buying. Measure from the outer edge of the window architrave to the opposite edge, and measure the drop from the top of the architrave to where you want the curtains to finish. If you can’t find a curtain rod that’s exactly the right length, you can buy adjustable poles.
Mark where you want the brackets to go on either side of the architrave and, if it’s a long space, you can place a bracket in the middle. Use the bracket as a template to mark where the screws will go and carefully drill the holes. Screw the brackets on by hand so you don’t risk splitting the timber. Pop the curtains on the rod and get a friend to help place it on the brackets. For help, check out Handy Andy's guide to hanging curtains.
- Choose heavier curtains, even thermal block-out curtains.
- If screwing directly into plaster, use a good-quality plaster toggle like Screw Mate – a plastic screw that bites into the plaster and lets you insert a metal screw which will hold the weight.
- Don’t buy curtains without measuring your window carefully and allowing extra width on each side of the glass.
- Make sure your curtains don’t drape onto the floor and create a trip hazard.
- Curtain rod and curtains, bracket and screws, drill, screwdriver, tape measure, marker pen, safety glasses, gloves, ladder.