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5 Last-Minute Outdoor Projects You Can Still Do This Season

The days are getting shorter and colder, but try not to jump into your indoor projects just yet. There’s still time to complete a few outdoor tasks with fast-setting concrete that offers secure, long-lasting results.
Kat Hodgins Avatar
Quikrete last-minute outdoor projects for fall

Photo: istockphoto.com

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Did you take advantage of the summer weather to knock some outdoor projects off your to-do list? As the temperature dips and the leaves start to change color, you may still have a few tasks left to tackle to spruce up your outdoor space before you retreat indoors. You know what they say: There’s no time like the present to get something done—as long as you have the right tools for the job.

Because it’s readily available, can be formed into many shapes and sizes, and cures into a hardened mass, concrete is a go-to material for a variety of outdoor projects. What many DIYers don’t know, however, is that weather conditions can affect how well concrete cures. Moderate humidity, temperature, and wind are ideal—and that kind of weather comes and goes quickly during autumn. If it’s too cold, frosty, or snowy, the required hydration process slows considerably, weakening the overall strength of the concrete.

Traditional concrete is usually cured after 48 hours in ideal weather. To reach its ultimate or designated strength, the concrete takes much longer: approximately another 28 days. For those who can’t or prefer not to wait for ideal weather to use traditional concrete, Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete Mix is an excellent option. Use this general-purpose concrete to complete last-minute outdoor projects with speed and ease.

Quikrete Fast Setting Concrete, in the red bag, is made of a special blend of cements, sand, and gravel. This rapid-hardening concrete sets in 20 to 40 minutes, and can be walked upon after just 2 hours. Instead of gambling on a stretch of decent weather for traditional concrete to set, Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete helps you get the job finished in mere hours, with dependable results.Here are some outdoor projects that you can tackle this year with rapid-set concrete.

1. Add a Lamppost

Quikrete last-minute fall projects install a lamppost
Photo: istockphoto.com

Daylight saving time ends November 6 this year, which means that now is a terrific time to consider installing a lamppost. An illuminated yard doesn’t just look warm and cozy on dark winter nights. What’s more important, the extra light provides additional security for those navigating an icy walkway.

Fast-setting concrete makes quick work of installing a new lamppost. Before digging any holes on your property, call utility services to learn the location of any underground lines. Locate the outlet to which the lamppost will be connected and run plastic conduit between them. Dig a hole that’s 18 to 24 inches deep and 6 inches in diameter, and fill the bottom with 6 inches of gravel for drainage. Next, dig a trench that runs from the hole to the power source, hire an electrician to connect the wires to the power source, and thread them through the conduit pipe.

Position the post in the hole and run the conduit from the bottom, up through the top of the post. Hold the post plumb and enlist a helper to pour the dry concrete mix into the hole. Leave approximately 3 to 4 inches at the top and add water until the concrete is fully saturated, about a gallon of water. Work quickly, as Quikrete hardens around the post fast. Once cured, cover the concrete with soil and attach the lamp to the post.

2. Install a Privacy Fence

Quikrete fast-setting concrete mix last-minute fall projects small privacy fence
Photo: istockphoto.com

As fall arrives, the leaves gradually fall away and the natural privacy provided by surrounding trees disappears. The best backyard privacy does not depend on Mother Nature—what you need is a small privacy fence.

The next time the weather forecast calls for a day—or even half a day—of fair fall weather, collect some fencing supplies and Quikrete and get to work on a little backyard oasis. Whether it’s a partial wall beside the hot tub or fire pit, or even a little nook for the patio, there are plenty of ways a privacy wall can transform your outdoor space.

It takes just a few hours to set fence posts with rapid-hardening concrete. Here’s what to do: Dig a hole that’s ⅓ to ½ the above-ground height of the post and approximately 6 inches in diameter. These holes should be a consistent diameter from top to bottom. If you live in a colder climate, make sure the posts will be cemented in the ground below frost level to avoid heaving as the ground freezes and thaws.

Before standing the fence posts in the holes, add a 6-inch gravel base and tamp it down. Next add Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete right in the hole, leaving just a few inches of room at the top, and fill it with water until the concrete is saturated. Once set, the fast-drying cement keeps fence posts firmly in place until it is fully cured. All that’s left is to attach the fence pickets, panels, or rails, and cover the concrete with sod.

3. Repair a Leaning Mailbox

last-minute outdoor projects from Quikrete repair a leaning mailbox
Photo: istockphoto.com

An off-kilter mailbox isn’t the end of the world but it does draw the eye, and not in a good way. A mailbox is one of the first things that people see when they pull up to a house, so it’s worth fixing a leaning mailbox and boosting your curb appeal. Besides, we’ll soon be in that time of year when loved ones send cards and parcels, and a mailbox that’s too lopsided may end up depositing its contents on the end of the driveway.

If a mailbox was installed incorrectly, hit with a car, or is starting to succumb to ground erosion, it’s an easy fix. With Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete Mix, homeowners can have the mailbox standing correctly before the postal worker comes by with their next delivery.

Use a level and a bit of force to coerce the post into an upright position. Add premixed Quikrete into the gap with a margin trowel, making sure to pack down the concrete. To determine if you’ve added enough, let go of the post. If it remains upright, there is enough. If letting go causes the post to tilt back to its old position, more Quikrete is needed.

4. Set a Post for a Bird Feeder

last-minute outdoor projects for fall with quikrete post for bird feeder
Photo: istockphoto.com

This is the time of year when birds begin migrating south for the winter. However, some favorite backyard species such as cardinals stay put year-round and could use a little help when the seasons change and food sources dwindle.

Bird-watchers, gardeners wanting to entice pollinators, and homeowners seeking to encourage some biodiversity in their backyard ecosystem may want to offer their feathered friends a place to feed. Installing a post for mounting a bird feeder can help supplement the local food supply for backyard birds while providing entertainment for the household.

This is an outdoor project that takes just a couple of concrete bags and mere minutes to complete. In the same way that you set a fence post, start by digging a hole that’s 6 inches wide and at least 18 inches deep. Add a few inches of gravel to the bottom of the hole, and position the post for the bird feeder. Fill the hole almost to the top with dry Fast-Setting Concrete, then soak the mix with about a gallon of water. Allow about 4 hours for the mix to set hard before attaching the bird feeder or perches for your feathered friends.

5. Put Up a Basketball Hoop

last-minute outdoor projects for fall install a basketball hoop with quikrete
Photo: istockphoto.com

Are your kids feeling cooped up indoors? Get them outside to expend some energy! Installing a basketball hoop on your property will encourage family members of all ages to get outside and get moving. A hoop is an excellent source of after-school entertainment, a place to build skills and practice for winter tryouts, and can be used year-round in temperate climates as an alternative to screen time.

Sure, there are portable basketball hoops that come on an attached stand, but these can be damaged if not set up correctly, fall over in the wind, or even get stolen by local mischief-makers. Instead, put up a basketball hoop that will last many years and feels sturdy, even after endless three-pointers. Before jumping into this project, refer to the manufacturer’s installation instructions to get the precise specs for a particular hoop.

Next, set up a wood form in the area where the hoop will be positioned and then dig a hole. Since a basketball hoop has to keep up with slam-dunk attempts, aggressive competitors, and more, the hole needs to be approximately 3 to 4 feet deep—filling such a deep hole will require multiple Quikrete bags. Flaring out the bottom of the hole will keep the hoop extra stable.

Mix the concrete with water one or two bags at a time; pour the mix in the hole and agitate it to get rid of any voids. Once the hole is half full, place rebar in a square formation per the manufacturer’s instructions. Pour in more concrete until it’s slightly above the wood form and screed (consolidate) the concrete by moving a 2×4 in a sawing motion along the surface of the concrete. Mark the location in the Quikrete for the front of the anchor system. Sink the anchor plate into the concrete, shaking it as you go to eliminate any voids, and then line it up with the marking. Before the concrete dries, make sure that the plate is level and make adjustments as needed.

Let the concrete fully cure before attaching the post, brackets, backboard, and hoop.

This content has been brought to you by Quikrete. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com

Kat Hodgins Avatar

Kat Hodgins

Contributing Writer

Kat Hodgins is a freelance copy and content writer based out of Vancouver, Canada. This lifelong DIYer and hands-on learner has been a freelance writer for over a decade and a BobVila.com contributor since 2020. With an affinity for jumping headfirst into home projects and finding products that make home life easier, Kat’s major contributions to the Bob Vila team are in DIY ventures and home goods.