Inspired by fresh air, crisp rain showers and blossoming trees, spring is a time to lay the ground for summer’s fun. Now is the moment to invest in do-it-yourself (DIY) projects that will make the coming months feel “vacation-y”, especially for big kids for whom summer break is a thing of the past.

Whether you like to unwind in the garden, decompress with s’mores or hit the hammock for a nap, there is a homegrown way to prep for your favorite summer activities. By using upcycled materials to change your yard, patio or balcony into your ideal summer getaway, you can make a positive impact on the planet while amplifying your sense of fun all season long.

Try out one of these easy DIY projects before the heat of summer sets in.

Plant a Vertical Garden

Maintaining a vertical garden is a great way to put your green thumb to work even if you live in a small space. A vertical garden can thrive indoors year-round, and on your patio or balcony throughout the growing season in your region. Local gardening shops and lumber yards are often happy to unload discarded pallets on upcyclers for free. For any pallet project, look for pallets made with untreated wood to avoid pesticides that can be harmful to people, plants and the planet. You’ll also need weed guard, a hammer and nails and some potting soil to convert your pallet for gardening. Vertical gardens can host just about any plant that a regular garden does (except maybe for pumpkins), from herbs and vegetables to flowers and succulents. For a simpler project, plant directly into a hanging shoe storage bag. Pack each shoe slot with potting soil and start planting!

Assemble a Fun Flag Banner

Are you ready to part with the concert t-shirts of your youth? If your answer is, “Sort of…” consider honoring your favorite bands by turning your t-shirts into a flag banner. Drape personalized flag banners indoors or outside to brighten up a balcony or adorn your deck. This easy crafting project can be turned around in an evening with just a few simple supplies. The conversations started over your rock n’ roll past will carry the night at your next patio party.

Build Your Own Fire Pit

If you’re dreaming of a summer with evenings spent by an outdoor fire pit, it only takes a 5-minute cruise on Pinterest to view hundreds of creative ideas for building one yourself. Most DIY fire pit “construction” costs range between $10-$60. Upcycled materials such as bricks, paver stones or even a washing machine drum can be picked up on the cheap at your local junk yard, recycler or Habitat for Humanity Restore.  Before you build, determine a safe spot to locate your fire pit area. It is best to place your pit 10-25 feet from a structure or neighboring yard, as well as to build it on a non-flammable surface, like concrete. And, of course, during drought season, stay on top of fire restrictions in your area.

Create a Playground for Kids of All Sizes

There are thousands of ways to play outside during the warm spring and summer months. Using upcycled materials you can install an entire playground in your own backyard. Paint paver stones and arrange them into a custom hopscotch layout. Put a spin on the classic tire swing making a half-tire hammock instead. A series of sturdy tree stumps can be an agility course. Or, for low-key afternoons, paint a single stump with a checkerboard to tuck into a quiet corner of your yard. If the park is where you play, create totable games to bring along with you. You’re sure to meet up with a few contenders down for a giant game of Lawn scrabble. Have fun!

blair youngThrough her work at the certified B Corp Cultivation Center, Blair Young supports nonprofits and socially purposed businesses to thrive. Blair and her family travel as much as possible by bike to have the most fun while making the least amount of impact on the planet.