Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links, which means I may make a commission if you decide to make a purchase through one of my links, at no cost to you.
Special thanks to National Hardware for sponsoring and providing materials for this project! All opinions are 100% my own.
Man, oh man… this week has been an absolute terror on my back. But, it was totally worth it, because I got started on a project I’m really excited about:
What you’re seeing here is the frame that will be installed near the garage on the side of the house — the one that will become the wood screen to hide the ugly eyesore that is my outdoor trash can. But, before it can go in, there are a number of other tasks involving lots of physical labor that I’m going to have to knock out this coming month.
Here’s the plan:
- Decide on a spot on the site of the house (near the garage) for a flat surface on which to place the outdoor trash bin and recycling bins – done!
- Dig down into said spot, compact the soil – nearly done!
- Lay down crushed gravel & compact
- Create a form for a concrete slab & pour
- Build a wood screen (that’s where the decorative hardware & this post comes in) – nearly done!
- Bury the wooden screen next to the new slab/pavers
- Stain the wood once it’s had some adjustment in the elements (PT lumber needs a few weeks)
- Clean up the surrounding area with new plants
In case you weren’t following along this summer (which by the way, you can click here to do that), the general problem that I’m trying to address with this project is that the very noticeable trash bin given to me by the county doesn’t have its own designated spot when it’s not sitting out at the curb. And since it has no home, it sits in my driveway most of the time. With all of the work I’ve done on the exterior over the years, turning the corner onto my street and seeing this in my driveway just takes all the fun out of the curb appeal progress. Meh.
I absolutely hate the way the trash just sits out and wanted to find a new place that would keep it out of view — but I know myself. If I had to lug it to the opposite side of the house or drag it behind the backyard fence, I’d get lazy and wind up still putting it in the driveway far too often. “Just this once” would turn into me forgetting about it, and I’d leave it in the driveway until the following week when it needs to go to the curb again. As we’ve seen with the entryway closet makeover that I posted about earlier this week, a project’s value is only as good as it manages to fit with my daily habits (or it will just keep getting messy again). So I needed to find a practical option. I decided that the garden on the side of the house (on the right side in the picture above) was perfect.
I picked a spot about six inches back from the corner of the house and began plotting out the space. The entire area is going to be about three feet by five feet, and I’m going to learn how to do something new in the process: how to — and hopefully properly — pour a concrete slab.
Why a concrete slab?
I decided on a concrete slab as my solution for two reasons:
- This doesn’t need to be overly fancy, and paver materials are slightly more costly; wood is also an option as I’ve seen some ideas on Pinterest use, but I wanted something that would have a slight slope for me to more easily stash the trash bin away.
- I’m using this project as an introduction to laying a concrete slab. I have plans to build an outdoor shed in a corner of the back yard, but this is a much smaller scale where I can get used to the steps and wrap my head around the kind of labor involved.
Once the slab is in, I’m also going to install a screen in front of it to hide the bin away from the street view, thereby helping the curb appeal. I got started on digging out the space for the slab, aiming for about six inches in depth before I’ll go about building the frame:
This process, in and of itself, is pretty tedious. So to keep my motivation going, I also decided that now would be a good time as any to build the frame for the screen. I would have built the whole thing including the attachment of the front panels, but my tube of outdoor adhesive dried up and I didn’t feel like going to the hardware store for the fourth time in a single day. Thus, the frame it is!
As you may have seen me mention in another post earlier this week, I’ve been working with National Hardware this summer. They’ve been great at supplying me with the materials I need for projects like this (and their sponsorship helps me budget the rest of the supplies that aren’t hardware, so win-win). Here is what they sent me:
The bin itself is just shy of four feet tall, so I cut down lengths of pretreated (PT) ground contact (GC) lumber to five feet each, anticipating that it would get partially buried into the ground. In between each vertical support, I also attached horizontal cuts to complete the frame.
- 5 – 1 x 4 x 8 pressure-treated (PT) “ground contact” (GC) lumber (read more about the “GC” rating below)
- 4 – corner braces in black finish
- 8 – corner plates in black finish (in hindsight, I think replacing four of these with two T-plates is a much better idea)
- ¾” interior/exterior self-drilling lathe screws
- Cut all 5 pieces of PT lumber down to 5’ each
- Use the leftover scrap to cut 4 pieces of 24” each
- In hindsight, I would have replaced four of the corner plates I used for two T-plates instead; originally, I believed I was going to create more of an L-shaped screen with a front panel and a side panel attached at the corner, so I would need to create two identical panels each using four of the corner plates. But as I began to dig out the area for the slab, I realized that it would be a lot better of an idea to increase the overall width of the front panel to five feet and nix the planned-for side panel altogether. So, I’m recommending that if you try to repeat this same project on your own, you can spend less money and get a more stable frame by going with T-plates in the middle.
- Finding screws that are short enough to use with 1x4s outside that also have a wide enough head to catch the heavy duty plates (the plates do not come with accompanying screws) turned out to be tougher than I thought. I found some lath screws that were marked for indoor/outdoor use, so I went with it. And bonus, they were self-drilling, which was great! You could also modify this plan to use 2x4s instead of 1x4s, which slightly increase your options for screws to use.
A Note on Outdoor Lumber
Using pressure-treated lumber, or PT as it’s often labeled, is the way to go with this project. But what you might not know is that the rules for what can and cannot be used for your outdoor projects have been changing. A new standard went into effect this summer, which says that for things going into or coming in contact with the ground, such as decks or posts, you need to be using what’s called “ground contact” (duh) pressure-treated lumber, which is abbreviated on labels with a GC marking. You’ll be seeing more and more of this in stores as the stock of old PT lumber is depleted.
The project came together pretty quickly. Building the first frame on the left side was tight and secure, but I had a lot more difficult of a time (for whatever reason) getting purchase on the screws that went into the horizontal pieces on the right side of the frame, so they are flexing where I don’t want them to flex. But if you do this project and use T-plates in the middle instead, you should have less of an issue. Plus, once things are secured into the ground and the front panels are also attached (the front of the design will look similar to the A/C screen I installed earlier this year), I expect everything to come together nicely.
One part complete, many more steps to go. I think I’m going to grab some ibuprofen and some exterior adhesive so I can get those front panels on, but details on the cement slab, the dig, the pour, are all coming soon! Have a fantastic weekend!