The 5 Summer Projects That Will Make Your Summer Epic.

It will soon be summer.  Horrible news for anyone with pale skin or a nicer winter than summer wardrobe. For everyone else it’s something to look forward to even if the skin that used to be on top of your kneecap is now below it. These are the summer projects (big and small) that have made my summers epic.

Elegant black, wood outdoor table set up in front of a homemade cob pizza oven and hearth.

During the summer there’s a work stoppage on any indoor work at my house. I vacuum because if I don’t things stick to the bottom of my feet, but other than that basic chore, my house really becomes more of a flop house.

If the days are long and warm, I’m outside with my good friend Mother Nature. I’m pretty sure she’s bi-polar.

5 Epic Summer Projects to Try

Outdoor LED Lighting

Time Required – 1-2 hours

Cost – $130 for 6 high end metal lights, wiring and transformer.  The cost will increase with the more lights you want and therefore the bigger transformer you’ll need.

DIY LED lighting shines up on a horizontal wood fence with a climbing hydrangea.

In a house one of the things that has the biggest impact but gets the least attention is lighting.  Ditto for outdoors.  Have you ever driven past a house at  night and thought OoOoOooooahhhhhhh?  It’s the lighting.  Lighting on the porch, under the eaves and landscape turn a little bungalow into something you assume must be a vacation home for Meghan Markle.

This post outlines the step by step information  you need to install LED landscape lighting.  IT’S NOT AS HARD AS YOU THINK. In fact it isn’t hard at all.  Maybe …. unfamiliar … but not difficult. It’s an easy, high impact summer project.

Drip Irrigation

Time Required – 1 Full Day (for a large garden)

Cost – $324 for a 40′ x 40′ garden.  (approximately 0.20 cents per square foot)

Tidy, large vegetable garden with newly laid out drip irrigation tubes.

If you have a small garden, drip irrigation will save water.  If you have a large garden drip irrigation will save you water, time, money and a lot of therapeutic sessions with friends discussing how you kill everything you grow.  It’s summer project #2. 

By August the rain usually slows down, things dry out and shrivel up. Sadly it’s also the time we’re least likely to water the garden because by August we’re all secretly wishing things would just up and die so we don’t have to take care of them anymore.  This only applies to plants, not friends or relatives. The fed uppiness with gardening is a short lived and usually only last for a week or so prior to the big harvest.

Drip irrigation, again isn’t all that difficult, doesn’t cost that much and can save you time.  The benefit of being able to water your garden while you’re working in it is reason enough to install a drip system (no overhead sprinkler to dodge, no hose to stand there with pointing at the dirt.)

When I installed my drip system a few years ago I wrote an entire tutorial on how to install a drip system from beginning to end.  Only one other thing has done more to improve my harvest than the drip system.

The Hinged Hoop House

Time Required – 3 hours

Cost – (around) $50 per hoop house


Massive kale plants growing in a raised bed fitted with a hoop house to keep critters away.

Who knew building a box with hinges on it would revolutionize my gardening. I’m not sure how many of you have already built yourself a hinged hoop house after I featured it last year but if my community garden is any indication, a pretty large percentage of you have done it.  I know my hinged hoop house was met with a few suspicious eyes up at my community plot but one by one people started to soften to the idea of these monstrosities in the middle of nature.

After living with the hinged hoop house for a year I  found a couple of areas that I could improve on so I updated it.  I’ve made it taller to accommodate my monstrous kale and Brussels sprouts (ick). I also beefed up the structure of it.

Learn how to build the hinged hoop house of your dreams right here.

In a week or so I’ll be bringing you the Hinged Hoop House 2.0. so hold off until then to build one if you can.  Until the new and improved version is posted you can see the basics of how it’s built and why it’s so great here. 


Time Required – a few hours per tree.

Cost –  Around $50 for the tree, $25 or less for the hardware.

An espalier apple tree runs along a pure white porch railing.

If you’ve always, always, always, always wanted a fruit tree but didn’t think you had room for one (or two which is what you need to produce apples for instance) you can finally have what you want.  An apple (or pear or fig …) tree that takes up almost no room at all.

I planted a pair of matching espalier apple trees (which are now available at most nurseries) a few years ago and they’ve performed way better than I thought they would.  They’re easy to maintain, look neat and tidy and shock of all shocks … supply me with apples.

This type of espalier has 6 varieties of apples grafted onto one rootstock so it’s like having 6 different apple trees.  That means an espalier like this can be planted as a single tree (you don’t need two of them) because it can pollinate itself.

The only trick to an espalier is wiring it. You need to attach it to a sturdy wire (either against a fence, wall or between posts) to help it keep its shape over the next few decades as it grows.  If you’ve always wanted to grow an apple tree but didn’t think you had room, here’s my full tutorial on how to plant and wire an apple espalier.

Pizza Oven

Time Required – 3-4 weekends

Cost – Anywhere from nothing to $200. Depends on how much you can scrounge.

DIY cob pizza oven with a barnboard and antique brick heart, shows a roaring fire inside and freshly baked bread.

You didn’t think I was going to forget this did you?  My backyard pizza oven.  THIS is a DIY that I know a lot of The Art of Doing Stuff readers have done which SHOCKS me because it’s kind of a big project.  It’s led me to believe I’m not alone in my enthusiasm for cuddling pizza.  I mean eating.  Eating pizza.

This pizza oven has led to countless pizzas, breads and other foods being baked in a roaring fire through the spring, summer, fall and winter.  It’s also led to a lot of pizza parties and yes, I’ll say it again, back fat.

I built my pizza oven 2014 and as of today  in 2019 it’s still in close to perfect condition. Much better condition than my kneecaps. You can read the entire tutorial on how to build a pizza oven here with Part 1 in the series. 

Good luck and have fun with your own summer projects!  Reading this in the winter?  Start planning now, lol. 







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  1. Holly says:

    I must have a pizza oven and for years my husband has said that I don’t need a goat… Not even for goat yoga. He thinks since I don’t do regular yoga, now goat is necessary for pizza. I am not living in the country with no pizza delivery and goatless any longer. Ready to tackle this.

  2. Teresa says:


    Where can I find your instructions on how to build the pizza oven? I love the look and the idea of making fired pizza in my back yard!.

  3. Robyn says:

    Jealous of the pizza oven! Wish I had time for a fun project!
    On behalf of cats and chickens that cannot speak, Happy Mother’s Day!

  4. Laura Lee says:

    I had drip systems for my gardens, walnut orchard, and the trees along our loooooong driveway. I was new to the area and to “country living” – I had no idea what “pocket gofers” were, but I got a quick education. The little buggers LOVED eating the drip lines! Every day I had to go out and check each line to see if it worked, or if the little buggers “had their way” with the drip system. It was a constant nightmare! Finally I just got a hose and watered them all by hand…which seems like a lot of work, but waaaay less work than finding the leaks and replacing drip line. Another thing the little buggers did, is eat the roots at the base of my trees and killed them! I spent over 2 grand replacing fruit trees! I tried all sorts of thing, caster beans, mole thumpers, etc etc and they just laughed and flipped me off. Then last year, I went to a permaculture event and got some berry bushes. They said to leave the bush in the pot and just cut a large hole in the bottom for the roots to come out. The gofers only go about 6 or 7 inches below the surface and will crash into the side of the bucket and go around it. They cant eat the bucket because it is flat and they can’t get their little choppers around it. So far, it’s worked great! Also, I put my garden in plastic kiddy pools. The little buggers can’t climb up the sides because it is too slippery so -0- have gotten in my garden to destroy the plants, and this is my 5th year using the pools. Just thought I’d share my tragic story with a happy ending. ;-)

  5. cathy clark says:

    My pizza oven. Can you tell we raise bees?

  6. Jane says:

    That pizza oven is a wonderful idea, but too ambitious for us these days. On the other hand, the hinged hoop house is manageable. My raised beds have been making do with 2×2 stakes along the sides and 2×2 screwed on top to hold the row covers up. Also netting all around the sides to keep out critters (starting with our cats). Essentially I caged in the plants until they’re big enough to withstand critters, birds, and insects. My only problem is after heavy rain: the row covers sag between the supports and a bloody pain to get rid of the water without showering myself. Can’t wait to see your v2.0.

  7. Meghan Gray says:

    We’re actually thinking of taking a page from your book and building our own lawn furniture. How is your homemade Restoration Hardware stuff holding up?

  8. Carrie Krumrie says:

    For me, this has been your most, on time blog, that I have received.
    Husband got his great/huge deck!!! And prior to him sodding the tiny scraps of yard!
    We have a retaining wall, which is going to be perfect for your apple esp….
    Then, drip system for herbs and garden; and hinged hoops!!!
    And the pizza oven!!! This is better than the trifecta for my back yard!!!
    Thank you so much!!

  9. Vanessa says:

    Love the lighted, woven ball in your LED lighting picture. I’ve made a couple metal versions for my self and will be adding some lights to them myself now. The cast shadows are as beautiful as your sphere.

  10. RuthAnn says:

    “my good friend Mother Nature. I’m pretty sure she’s bi-polar.”
    Good one!

  11. Heather says:

    Always a pleasure to find The Art of Doing Stuff in my in-box, Karen. Your projects are inspirational. Thanks! I’m moving to the country soon, and plan to try my hand at all these projects. Will let you know how it goes.

  12. whitequeen96 says:

    Some of your projects take more oomph than I have these days, but I still love reading how to do them! Your directions are clear, interesting, and FUN! (And I can dream about doing them.)

    On the other hand, many of your tips and ideas have helped me in lots of ways. They’re creative, practical, and also FUN! Thanks for all you do!

  13. Brin says:

    Oh my gosh! I remember when you started the plans to build your pizza oven. Hard to believe it was that long ago. Yes, it turned out fantastic and still is. Admire you so much for all you do and share. Some of your ideas have made my life so much easier and I appreciate all your levels of expertise and humor. Have a great summer!

  14. brenda says:

    I can’t wait till you grow enough wheat to keep yourself in bread and pizza all year long … you need a cow (or at least a goat) for the cheese-making + my mind is blown by your ability to grow 6 kinds of dessert apples on such a pretty, fancy espalier apple tree. I need to take a closer look at those hoop houses.

    • Karen says:

      It’s really fantastic! Low tunnels work well too, they’re just more of a pain to put on and off. ~ karen!

    • Nicole says:

      Karen DOES need a goat (well, 2 actually) – just think how amazing it would be to make your pizza dough from scratch, put on your homemade goat mozzarella and fresh veggies then bake it in your pizza oven. That would be some serious bragging rights! lol

  15. Sofia Parks says:

    I, absolutely love your page. It’s informative, uncomplicated, easy to follow and all the instructions have been 100% successful, even when one has two left hands, like I do!
    Thank you for your creative help.

  16. TucsonPatty says:

    That pizza oven always knocks my socks off. I would love to have one, and I know I will never make one. But I would love to have one. Such a dilemma. I have too much back fat and front fat to be having that in my yard. Oh the bread I could make and eat!

    • Karen says:

      You can also buy small tabletop pizza ovens for outside. I think they’re gas fired but they still look really nice and I’m guessing they work well. So … that’s an option. ;) Ilfornino and Roccbox are the best makes. ~ karen!

      • WoniyaWaken says:

        I have one! I wanted one I could take with me. It was probably round about as expensive as building one. Not to say I still don’t want to try my feet at mud oven clay blending at some point, but I did just enjoy a lovely pizza from my portable oven, and it was grand. YOU gave me the idea to even start saving for one. I make salmon, veggies and lots of healthy things in there besides pizza. But yeah..a nice pizza in there is the bibbity-bomb.

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