Outdoor projects can range from landscaping to lighting, but depending on your specific outdoor renovation, some projects may be suitable to DIY, while others may require the expertise of a professional. When considering DIY vs hiring a professional for your outdoor projects, it is best to honestly ask yourself how qualified and motivated you are to complete the job, as well as the money and time you’re willing to expend. Hiring a professional for certain jobs could help you keep your project on track, while other more simple projects can be fun and rewarding to do yourself. Know when you should DIY your outdoor projects and when it’s best to hire a professional to take care of the work for you, by understanding the following reasons and challenges.
Reasons to hire an outdoor professional
Some projects are more challenging than others and require the knowledge, skills, tools, and resources of a professional. For outdoor living projects that require electrical, irrigation, or hardscape installation it is often beneficial to hire a professional. A contractor, landscaper, or expert will have working knowledge about paperwork and permits required to do a project legally. Work that isn’t up to code actually hurts the resale value of your property. Professionals also have the ability to purchase materials at a discount and already own the most required tools. Bringing on a professional can make large outdoor projects less costly, keep your landscape project on schedule, and ensure the job is completed in a professional manner.
Challenging projects that may require a professional
Landscape planning and designing
If this is your first time doing landscaping, it might be best to talk with a professional in the beginning phase of the project. A landscaper, architect, or designer can inform you about laws requiring permits for different projects, the best materials, and services to use, and help formulate an outdoor layout that is suitable to your lifestyle and budget. A professional will also have the ability to tell you about the best plants for your yard based on climate, water usage, soil quality, and maintenance. They can also help with special considerations like building a pet-friendly yard or how to prevent run-off in yards susceptible to erosion. Depending on the scope of your project, some landscaping may involve heavy machinery and equipment rental that should be used under the supervision of a skilled laborer.
Building a deck, porch, or patio
Building a deck off the back of your house is a costly and time-consuming task that requires expensive materials and a solid understanding of construction principles. A contractor can help plan the design, implement permanent infrastructure for the foundation, and properly execute to project to finish in a timely manner. A professional can also purchase expensive materials at a discount, and has the tools and skills to complete this project quickly.
If you are looking to add outdoor lighting to your home, hiring a professional will prove beneficial in many ways. A professional will help to develop a certain look for the space, and discuss different lighting options such as fixtures and spacing. For those wanting to utilize eco-friendly lighting or install outdoor lights on a budget, a professional can save you time on research and help avoid costly repairs. Most importantly, because outdoor wiring is different than indoor wiring, an electrician will understand electrical systems, wattage needs, and can file an electrical permit if required. Extensive knowledge of factors like changes in temperature, bugs, pests, and humidity will ensure your outdoor lighting has long-term efficiency.
Underground pools and spas
In most cases, employing a professional when adding a pool or spa to your outdoor living space is a must. Even the simplest of projects, like installing an above ground spa is a big job that often requires approval from a technician. A landscaper and pool contractor will work with you to develop a design for the property, acquire permits, materials, and machinery, and ensure the pool will be safe for both people and the property. This is a long-term project, so be sure to contact a professional several months before intended use. Use this inground pool cost calculator to determine the cost of your project.
Constructing a stone fireplace
A stone fireplace that is built into a wall outside of your home or that is more complex than the average metal fire pit can be a challenging job that usually requires the help of a professional. A contractor or expert in the subject of fireplaces will have knowledge of city regulations and safe building practices, as well as masonry experience.
If you want a simple outdoor kitchen with a propane-fueled grill and no water lines, you may be able to DIY. However, there are a few tips for designing the best outdoor kitchen. If you’re planning a complex outdoor kitchen with natural gas lines, electricity, and water, it’s best to leave it to a professional that knows working codes, plumbing costs, and safety regulations.
When to DIY
There are many DIY projects that have the ability to transform your outdoor space to give it the look and feel you want while keeping to your budget. A major incentive to DIY is saving money, and depending on the project, you can end up saving 50% on costs by completing the work on your own. DIY projects can be fun, rewarding, and make a big impact on the overall look of your space. Here are some hands-on projects for your outdoor renovations:
Build a pergola or trellis
Adding a pergola, gazebo, or trellis can significantly transform your outdoor space while requiring a basic level of construction knowledge. The tools, materials, and construction plans are easy to obtain by personal research and planning. With the right amount of allotted time and motivation, you will save money building it yourself.
Plant a flower bed or herb garden
Once you determine the location, building a flowerbed or herb garden is as simple as constructing the frame (or planting at ground level), loosening the soil, filling the area, and planting. This is an easy, kid-friendly, and rewarding DIY project with lasting benefits.
Create a stone pathway
Building a stone pathway requires minimal time, tools, and materials, with the outcome of a functional design. It’s a great start to outdoor landscaping with a plethora of online inspiration and resources.
Build an outdoor fire pit
Great for late summer evenings, an outdoor fire pit is a valuable addition to your outdoor space that doesn’t require a contractor or specialist, in comparison to a built-in fireplace. This project is timely, great for beginners, and can be as simple or elaborate as you wish.
Natural side tables
This is a great way to add unique character to your space. Use old whiskey barrels and top with table glass, or collect tree stumps to construct a natural-looking, weather-tolerant side table. Using natural materials will help you save on costs and also be easily accessible if the materials can be found in your own backyard.