Introduction to Building Lawn Features: From Adding a Foundation to Creating a Labyrinth

man standing in front of gazebo, next to flowersWeekends are the perfect time to build lawn features. Many people pay extra attention to these features because they enhance the look of a lawn. Homemade lamps, fire pits, birdhouses, pebble mosaics, labyrinths, and gazebos can bring major pizazz to a lawn. The possibilities are endless!

Let’s start with creating a foundation for a gazebo. It’s great to hang out on the lawn during the warm months, but the sun can get overwhelming at times. Building an outdoor gazebo will allow you to relax outside regardless of the weather.

The first major step is to build the walls – start with four large posts for the corners and dig holes for the posts using post holders. Use quick cement to anchor them. Mount the bracing beams – in this step you are essentially using 6 beams to brace the three closed sides of the gazebo. Add windows, or keep it open-air if you prefer. You’ll then need four more beams to join the top posts in order to create a stronger foundation for the roof of the gazebo.

The second major step is building the roof. You’ll need five 4 x 4” beams, four of which should be cut with a 45-degree angle at one end. Bolt the beams so that it looks like two upside-down V’s connected at the top. Attach the roof beams by bolting it into the corner posts at each end. If you decide on windows, you’ll need to install them at this point.

Finally, you can finish off by adding some finishing touches – paint the structure, add a roof covering of corrugated aluminium or fiberglass and secure with nails. Create walls, add some furniture, and you’re set!

Another cool, but basic weekend project for your lawn is building a labyrinth. There are advanced versions but we’re going to keep it simple. A labyrinth is like a maze, but without the confusion. It provides a guided path from beginning to end. Simple labyrinths can be created from blocks, pebbles, and even plants. The essential things you’ll need for the project are stakes, measuring tape, rope, and a pattern for your labyrinth.

Measure the area you have available so you can decide on an appropriate pattern. Mark out the labyrinth pattern using stakes, placing them two feet apart. Wind rope around the stakes (on the ground) to line the path so that they are more visible. Next, use your material of choice to start lining the labyrinth along the rope outline. The height and details of the path are completely up to you. Finally, remove the ropes and stakes and you have yourself an awesome backyard labyrinth!

The last feature we’ll talk about is a clay pot birdhouse, which will add color to your lawn, a feeling of nature, and a habitat for small birds. Kids will also have fun helping with this project. You’ll need materials including an 8-inch clay flowerpot, 10”x10” piece of plywood that is at least ¼ inch thick, two fender washers, rat-tail file, power drill, half-round file, saber saw, and one 8-inch eyebolt and nut.

First, locate the entrance of where you want the hole for birds, and use a small drill bit (1/8 inch or smaller) to get the hole started in the center. Work your way up to larger bits, to gradually enlarge the hole. Once you’ve used your largest drill bit, you’ll need to enlarge the rest of the hole by hand, using the rat-tail file and half-round file. Once a quarter coin can pass through the hole, you’re all set to move to the next step.

Trace the open end of the flowerpot on your piece of plywood in order to make the floor for the birdhouse (the small bottom end will hang off the tree.) Set the flowerpot upside down on top of the plywood base. Slide your fender washer onto the eyebolt and pass it through the drainage hole and through the plywood base. Then, use another washer over the end of the eyebolt and secure it with a nut.

Now your birdhouse is ready to hang. This is a nice opportunity to get creative and paint flowers and other images on the outside of the pot. Finally, using a hook or chain, suspend the house 5 to 10 feet above the ground and wait for the birds to arrive!