If you agree that your yard/patio/deck is an extension of your home, then why not decorate it as such? DIY yard art is an easy and inexpensive way to dress up your outdoor oasis. Go big, go bold!
Last week I showed you the whale fence art (from a pallet) that I created to hang by our pool, well this week I wanted to create something for a friend…
Something big, something bold and something that would offer her a bit of privacy until her plantings grow in. (She’s recently put in a pool, so her gardens are new and her yard is wide open for everyone walking by).
I started out with some 1/2″ MDF (medium density fibreboard) and my jig saw, and slowly cut these smooth, fluid shapes until the board was used up.
There’s no rhyme or reason – I just swooped and curved until I had a series of pieces.
Next, I laid my pieces out on a second piece of 3/4″ MDF to get an idea of spacing and placement. I flipped and flopped and turned and switched the pieces until I was pleased with the balance.
Now, as you may or may not know, MDF is NOT an outdoor-friendly material. It’s essentially sawdust that has been glued and compressed into boards – so it absorbs water like a (slow) sponge. I didn’t want to oblige my friend to hang my art for years and years to come, I just wanted to give her something to hide her heiney this summer – the new plantings will be more mature next year.
To give this DIY yard art a fighting chance at lasting the summer, I primed it with 2 coats of KILZ primer on the front and the back. KILZ is an oil-based primer and it doesn’t absorb into the MDF as easily as a latex (water based) primer would. Additionally, you’ve seen how water and oil mix right? It works in the same way by helping to keep water (like from rain or sprinklers) from absorbing through as well.
For the backboard, I painted it with an outdoor semi-gloss paint in white – and made sure to do a few coats – again for protection and longevity.
Once the backboard was complete and all of the pieces were primed (again, front, back and edges), it was time to adhere them in place.
I could have glued them directly to the backboard, but I wanted some dimension, so I used some scrap bits of wood and tucked them here and there behind a few pieces, and then glued and screwed them into place.
I chose a few colours that I thought went well together and painted each piece – Maddie and I call them “sea kelp” – with a few coats.
You’ll notice my edges are overhanging the back board – once everything was stuck in place, I cut the excess off with a jig saw and sanded the edges smooth.
Next up was building the frame for our DIY yard art – no special technique or fancy moves here. I measured the width of the piece and cut two pieces, then I measured the height of the piece (with the upper and lower pieces included) and cut two more. Just plain 2 x 4’s, with wood glue and deck screws in each corner.
I sanded the inside edges, the outside edges and the front of the frame smooth with 80 grit and 120 grit sandpaper. It’s outdoor DIY yard art, so you don’t need a ‘fine finish’, but you don’t want it to look like it just came off the Home Depot truck either – someone has to carry this over to her friend’s house and someone else has to hang it. Slivers are not part of the gift.
Prime and paint the frame with a colour from your interior.
I’ll be honest, I had absolutely no idea how I was going to get the centre to stay in place inside the giant frame. I don’t know how to cut ridges into the centre of each 2×4. I thought about using 2×2’s, one on the front and one on the back of each side, but it wouldn’t have worked because some of my sea kelp was elevated for dimension.
I don’t know when it hit me, but thank goodness it did – L-brackets!
I screwed L-brackets along the frame (8 of them) with the standing edge facing the centre line of each 2×4.
This inset the art from both the front and back of the frame, thereby giving it a bit more protection from rain.
I apologize for the screw holes on the back – 1/2″ wood screws were too short to attach the sea kelp to the front and 3/4″ were too big – I couldn’t find anything in between.
I splurged a few months ago and bought a Wagner paint sprayer, so I was able to apply 3 coats of polyurethane to the front, back, edges, nooks and crannies with relative ease.
What do you think?
I know art is subjective, but I thought that the colours would go well with the new pool and come on – sea kelp? How “on theme” do you get?
While I was painting this, Madison was in the garage with me and we were working on a project for school – writing a persuasive argument for saving the Sea Otters. She finished her essay, I finished the DIY yard art and we both did a “sea kelp dance” around the garage in celebration.
I know I’m nuts – I wear it like a gold medal. lol
Have a great one!