When the weather starts to get warmer, it’s a great time for some outdoor DIY projects. It’s a perfect excuse to be outside, and it also means making improvements to your outdoor spaces that you can enjoy all summer long. Here are some DIY project ideas that you can do by yourself or that the whole family can work on together.

1. String lights

String lights are a simple way to add massive ambience to any outdoor space. All you need to do is measure, then buy some lights to fit your space. There are a lot of different styles, but it’s probably a good idea to opt for plastic rather than glass for outside. There are also solar options to power your lights, in case you don’t have an easily reachable outlet to plug them into.

You can run strands of lights across a patio area, drape them over bushes, and wrap them around trees—all of it will contribute a cozy glow to any evening gathering.

2. Backyard chess or checkers

For a whimsical and interactive DIY project the whole family can enjoy, try creating an outdoor chess or checkers set.

For the board, you can get 32 black and 32 light-colored pavers, and arrange them in an alternating pattern in a large square. You can use sand or fine gravel in the cracks between them to keep them from moving.

Make checkers or chess pieces out of hypertufa; it’s a mix of Portland cement, sand, and water that’s sort of like terracotta, but lighter weight.

When you’re not using it as a game board, the tiles make an elegant patio or even a dance floor—with a little Queen’s Gambit flair!

3. Living fort

Forts are fun at any age, but a living fort takes it to the next level—it’s a beautiful, calming nook made out of plants. You can frame out the shape you want using landscape poles and string, and then plant some vines or other plants that are drapable, leafy, and fast-growing.

Wrap the vines around the poles, as well as letting some hang, and pretty soon you’ll have some living walls forming a cozy outdoor hideaway. You can continue to add more plants and weave them in, for more visual interest or denser walls.

4. Fire pit

Building a fire pit can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like. If you want to keep it simple, you can form a ring out of bricks or stones. You don’t even need to use mortar or cement if you don’t want to—just make sure to clear away any nearby grass or plant matter that could catch on fire. Then, stack some kindling and logs to build a fire, and light it up.

If you want to get a little fancier, you can get some quick-drying cement to build a taller, more secure stone or brick fire ring.

5. Pallet couch

If you need some furniture to go with any of the above improvements, a pallet couch is a surprisingly simple way to make some nice seating. You’ll need four pallets. To get them for free, ask local businesses, like hardware stores, nurseries, or any construction site, if they’ll save some for you.

Once you have your pallets, all you need to do is stack two together for the part of the couch you’ll sit on, and stack the other two and stand them up vertically for the backrest part. Then, secure it all with deck screws.

To finish off your pallet couch, sand and stain it (unless you’d rather keep it natural), and add some cushions or blankets.

Any or all of the above projects will make your outdoor space a more comfortable, liveable place to hang out—and the process of building them can be a fun and satisfying activity that your friends or family can do together!