10 Outdoor DIYs You Can Do for a Dollar

Now that the worst of winter is behind us, it’s time to set our sights on relaxing, entertaining, and eating alfresco. But outfitting these spaces with decorative and functional elements can get expensive. Instead of heading to the home goods store, take a U-turn to your local thrift shop or dollar store to craft one of these clever, creative, and incredibly cheap projects that are sure to give your outdoor retreat the spring spruce it needs.

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  1. Magnifying Mirrors


    Decorating the exteriors with interior elements is a great way to add both coziness and style to the backyard—and a mirror is an easy way to achieve this indoors-out look. This dollar version requires a little foam board, scrap fabric, a mirror, and tile. Cut the foam board to your desired size, cover it with fabric, glue the tiles around the border, and then glue the mirror in the middle. Display in your outdoor living area to reflect light and make the space feel welcoming.

    Related: 9 DIY Ideas for a Summery Backyard


  2. Bright Basket Light


    Amazingly enough, this farmhouse-inspired light fixture comes together from a wastebasket from the dollar store, a light kit, and a bulb. Use wire cutters to cut a circle out of the base of the basket that's large enough for the socket to fit through. Then, thread the socket through the hole, screw in the bulb, and hang for a rustic effect.

    Related: 8 New Ideas for DIY Outdoor Lighting


  3. Rustic Rope Pots


    Flowerpots instantly add charm to any backyard, and these rope-wrapped versions are no exception. They are, however, an exception to the high price tag that can come along with similar store-bought versions. For an inexpensive run-around, simply pick up a few terra cotta pots at your local thrift store, and—starting at the top and working your way down—glue rope around the outsides. Use paint to apply a decorative stripe at the bottom, or display with only the rope for a quick way to spruce up your outdoor space.

    Related: 10 Inspired DIY Planters to Dress Up Your Garden


  4. Whimsical Welcome Mat


    This colorful project is the perfect way to use up leftover paint while also improving your outdoor spaces. Pick up a standard doormat for next to nothing at a thrift store or dollar store, and then use paint to craft a cheery message for family and friends to enjoy. 

    Related: 14 DIY Doormats That Step Up the Style


  5. Tea Light Lanterns


    Empty jars, a few pieces of wire, and some tea lights are all that’s required of this charming outdoor DIY. After fashioning a handle from wire, simply drop a candle into the jar, and attach to your porch or balcony railing with a another piece of wire. You’ll love how the finished product adds an elegant touch that makes your great outdoors even greater. 

    Related: 11 Ways to Elevate Your Boring Balcony


  6. Pretty Plant Markers


    While plant markers make for functional garden accessories, they can also be attractive ones, too. These versions can be made for practically nothing, as all you need are inexpensive wooden spoons from a budget store. While this blogger used a soldering iron to etch in her veggies' names, you could just as easily get by with paint or a thin permanent marker pen. 

    Related: 9 Insanely Easy 1-Hour Backyard Projects


  7. Tea Pot Tower


    This bird oasis for the backyard inexpensively comes together with only a few found pieces of dishware, glue, and spray paint. To start your topsy-turvy design, choose a sturdy bowl for the base and then build upward, gluing the pieces together as you go and completing the project with a large platter for the top. Once the glue has had time to set, cover with a few coats of spray paint for a charming and whimsical finish. 

    Related: 8 Brilliant DIY Ways to Reinvent Your Dinnerware


  8. Personalized Place Mats


    Place mats are a must for outdoor dining, as they add a colorful touch and make quick work of cleanup. Skip on costly fabric versions and craft your own from a surprising find in the kitchen aisle of the dollar store: clear, plastic chopping mats that are ripe for a decorative stamp. Pick up a few packs, outfit the backs with festive cutouts, and attach using a sealer like Mod Podge for a cheap, clever, and washable way to cover tables.

    Related: Eating Out: 10 Essentials for Alfresco Dining


  9. Simple Sconce


    If you’re in the market for some new outdoor lighting for your deck or patio, look no further than this industrial fixture that’s made from only humble dollar store materials. A clay pot serves as the shade, while an outdoor LED light and a chain removed from an inexpensive plaque combine to form the light source. The best part? You can make these from just about any container that catches your eye, including woven baskets, plastic pots, and more.

    Related: 11 Things to Do Now for Your Best-Ever Backyard


  10. Gazing Globe


    Gazing globes are an easy way to add an element of color to your garden, however the store-bought versions can be a little pricey. Fashion your own from Smoothfoam balls, paint, hot glue, and mosaic pebbles from the dollar store. Start by brushing the Smoothfoam with paint that matches your pebbles, and then use hot glue to attach the glass stones around the entirety of the ball. Display amongst your flowers for a fun and glitzy finish.

    Related: The Invincible Yard: 12 Ideas for Lazy Landscaping


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