When the COVID-19 pandemic began, many stayed home as much as possible to limit contact with others. With all that time in lockdown, it’s no surprise that many took to sprucing up their homes—and backyards were no exception. For those fortunate enough to have their own yards and outdoor patios, the backyard became a welcome respite so that people could get fresh air and take a break from the monotony of the remote work day right at home.
A majority of home design experts (87%) said homeowners are still influenced by the pandemic, with many still investing in their outdoor living spaces, according to a May 2022 report from Fixr.com. In fact, one of the most popular current housing trends is adding interior-style home furniture and decor in an outdoor setting.
But unlike spaces enclosed by four walls, it’s hard to find outdoor spots to easily add shelving, nooks, and drawers to stash items out of the way. But finding easy ways to increase functional storage space without spending money on a renovation is possible. Whether you have a tiny balcony, medium-sized front porch, or an expansive lawn, backyard enthusiasts just need to get their creativity flowing when thinking of ways to store tools, furniture, and more.
Extra Space Storage selected seven easy ways, all of which are DIY (or have DIY elements), to increase storage in your backyard that can be used in any outdoor space, big or small.
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Outdoor coffee table with storage
Sipping morning coffee in the backyard while checking emails is a relaxing way to start the day, but imagine having storage space under the coffee table or additional hidden side tables. There’s the bonus of expanding storage space without taking up any additional floor space, which can be especially helpful if you have a smaller outdoor space where every inch counts.
Having hidden storage can also keep all the things you’d need for your morning coffee break like napkins or spoons or just double as a place to keep things out of sight like a cozy blanket or laptop charger. Being productive while utilizing another multifunctional space can be satisfying, especially if you put it together yourself.
Master grill station
You can always find budding grill masters stationed each summer in front of the backyard barbecue. Whether grilling up burgers or slow cooking a rack of ribs, having oven mitts, tongs, meat thermometers, and the rest of a cook’s cooking tool arsenal within easy reach can save countless trips back and forth between the backyard and house.
A master grill station may be ideal for keeping everything organized and close at hand. Master grill stations have shelves for storage space, built-in counter surfaces, and hooks to hang spatulas and basting brushes. They also usually have wheels to cart around easily. And beyond cooking gear, don’t forget about plates and serving dishes. Whether it’s an outdoor occasion or just a Tuesday night, having a place to park platters and serving trays can make it easy to share food that’s hot off the grill.
Planter with room to hide your garden hose
An outdoor hose is also a backyard mainstay. But what do you do when you’re not watering flowers, filling up the children’s pool, or washing the car? Save space—and 10 minutes of untangling hose kinks later—by creating a modern planter that can hide a garden hose and keep it properly stowed. Keeping it out of the sun can increase the life of the hose, not to mention keeping it out of the way so no one trips or accidentally punctures it.
Unlike a typical hose stand, a planter is more unexpected and guests might never guess that it does double duty. If you’re handy, making your own planter box involves tools including a miter saw, drill, heat torch, thick bristle brush, and decking screws. Be prepared to have some fun and get inventive with this one if you choose the DIY route.
Outdoor storage benches are ideal for hiding outdoor essentials—such as cushions, toys, or beach towels—from the elements while serving as seating space that looks great among other patio furniture. Long benches can offer up surprisingly roomy spaces to stash items without increasing the footprint of your outdoor furniture.
You can hide outdoor pillows so they’re ready when you want to create a cozy outdoor reading nook, organize bottles and make it a drink station, or if your Wi-Fi works outdoors, you can plop your laptop on top and use it as an outdoor workspace. Add some durable boxes on top if you need some extra height.
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Vertical cinder block planter
There’s a reason cinder blocks seem to be one of the most versatile, multipurpose materials in construction. These standard-size rectangular or square concrete blocks are used for various purposes such as assembling retaining walls, building fire pits, or creating some DIY projects to spruce up your garden. They’re ideal if there isn’t enough surface area to spread out your plants and other gardening materials and you need to grow vertically. All you need are the cinder blocks, landscape block adhesive or heavy-duty construction glue, and a caulking gun.
Storage buckets can be convenient while providing some decorative flair in your backyard. Affordable and easy to find, they come in all sizes, materials, and shapes. And when they come with a lid, they can be especially helpful to store items and protect them from the elements, insects, and the sun. Grab several to line up along a wall, artfully arrange differently sized buckets in an empty or awkwardly shaped corner, or simply screw some hooks into your fence and hang them filled with flowers. Using differently colored buckets can also help children keep their outdoor toys organized.
Similarly, planters—which can come in materials like terracotta, ceramic, or plastic—can also be repurposed in the same way as all-purpose buckets. Planters tend to come in a wider range of sizes, such as a rectangular window box or a shallow container designed to hang.
Recycled window shed or greenhouse
Have a lot of open space but not sold on a plain, boxy tool shed? If you’re in the mood for taking on a DIY project that offers more of a design showstopper, a recycled window shed or greenhouse could be the way to go. While it does take a little bit of planning—and if you’re opting to make one out of old windows, you’ll need to start collecting them—the good news is, greenhouse construction can be done in two or three full days. These structures can be a great option not only to store garden tools, rakes, and larger items, but also for growing more plants that otherwise might not make it through the winter in your region.
For those concerned about how it will hold up, these types of structures can be sturdy enough for harsh weather. There are tons of places that ship eco-friendly lumber and other sustainable materials online if no stores near your home have them in stock.
This story originally appeared on Extra Space Storage and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.