A survey by the National Multifamily Housing Council determined that 67 percent of people with residences in the U.S. live in owner-occupied housing; that’s 79,484,000 households. Homeowners who undertake do-it-yourself (DIY) projects number around 70 percent.

That’s a sizeable chunk of the American public, all picking up tools and getting projects done around their homes in their spare time during the weekend. The downside of this is that success at small jobs like repairing a leaky faucet, hanging a shelf or tending to the garden can breed inappropriate confidence. Homes and gardens can be harmed quite as quickly as egos, and that damage can take much longer and be far more expensive to recover from. Just because you can install your new TV mount or intricate shelving in your living room doesn’t mean you’re qualified to redo your backyard’s irrigation and install water features. Avoiding a catastrophic failure is cheaper and easier than learning from your own mistakes, so here’s our ‘what not to do’ guide for yard renovation and construction.

Research, Research, RESEARCH

The first, best general advice that can be given to any DIYer is: do not be blind to potential problems. Recognizing and then avoiding patterns that run up extra long-term costs is always preferable to bulldozing ahead with proven fails. Take the time to thoroughly research your project. It’s going to give you a much better idea on what to expect, how things should pan out, and areas where bottlenecks and setbacks are likely to occur. You’ll have a sense of the budget you’re going to be working with and where you can shop for expert services to fill in on areas that you’re not qualified to fulfill – we just talked about overly confident DIYers. Putting in the proper research and planning will help to keep you on course to finish your project with success and you’ll find time and money well spent on getting the task at hand completed and not on mistakes that could have happened otherwise.

Safety First

Let’s start off with some general guidelines:
DO NOT work without adequate safety gear and protection. No matter if it’s a project on the interior or exterior of the home, it’s vital to use proper safety equipment to protect your eyes, airways, head, hands, and other areas of the body. For outdoor projects like fencing timbers, for instance, may be alive with splinters and you definitely don’t want that in your eyes or airways. To add, many jobs require being on hands and knees for extended periods, which can put untypical strain on contact points. Wearing proper padding will save a lot of the wear and tear on your body that can cause long term damages. Your health and safety should always be a priority when pursuing any projects around the home. Looking at a finished project is far less pleasurable when you’re wounded.

Secondly, DO NOT use tools irresponsibly. Clearly nailguns aren’t toys, but perhaps less obviously, tools we’re used to seeing around also pose risks. A hacksaw designed to cut through steel will make short work of a finger, and a shovel designed to chop away at hard-baked earth will have no problem severing a couple of toes. If you get tired, or irritable, or weary, do not continue. It’s ok to take a break if it means avoiding an accident.

Common Project Fails 

Playsets: When installing a playset in the yard for kids, read the instructions and ensure you have all the parts first. Companies like BEAR of PA are leading suppliers of playsets, trampolines, basketball systems, and other playground materials and they recommend opting for professional installation whenever possible. For some sets you buy, some companies may even include installation upon delivery for free or for a smaller fee. Opting for professional help could save you a ton of time, not to mention stress.
Garden Beds: If you’re like many homeowners that have excess space in their backyards and looking to put it to more organic use, you may want to opt for in- or above-ground garden beds. What better way to make use of your yard space than to have it give back to you with fresh, organic plants and vegetation? Well, expert gardeners will tell you that the key to having a successful garden starts with proper planning, measuring, and strategic layout plans. Making the most efficient use of your garden space is a priority, the planting and long term maintenance will follow.

Water Features: If creating a relaxing ambiance in your yard is in the plans by installing a quaint little pond or water feature, ensure you take the time to properly plan and measure here as well to avoid any stresses and mishaps. Remember, you’re aiming for relaxation, right? Depending on the type of water feature you plan on installing and if it uses a filter or pump, the last thing you want is to dig a decent-sized hole in the wrong area of the home where it can’t get any electric service or maintenance it’s going to need. Or if it’s destined to be solar-powered, it’s a given that you’re going to need to plan on constructing in an area that’s fairly unshaded.

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