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Check Out These DIY Backyard Glow-Ups Done During Quarantine

Photograph courtesy of Shane Morgan.
Coronavirus 2020

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Most of us have spent a lot of time at home recently. And even as the DMV begins to slowly reopen, it’s likely we’ll spend much more of our summer in and around our houses than we usually would.

That means finding a place to safely spend time outside has taken on a new level of importance. And those lucky enough to have their own designated outdoor spaces are using this moment for backyard refreshes. Take a walk through a street in DC and you’ll likely see plenty of newly purchased string lights or flower pots (and, yes, patio goods are apparently selling out online). Here, some folks in the DC area share the glow-ups they’ve given to their outdoor spaces while in quarantine:

Photograph courtesy of Jessi Gordon.Photograph courtesy of Jessi Gordon.
Photograph courtesy of Jessi Gordon.Photograph courtesy of Jessi Gordon.
Photograph courtesy of Jessi Gordon.Photograph courtesy of Jessi Gordon.
Photograph courtesy of Jessi Gordon.Photograph courtesy of Jessi Gordon.

Jessi Gordon, 31, joined forces with the HOA of her Shaw apartment building to refresh their shared outdoor space. The group was able to easily settle on a bright, fun look that they all liked, says Gordon. Although there were some delays with shipping supplies, they were able to assemble a living area with faux greenery, string lights, a mural, and a container garden. The group uses it all the time now, says Gordon.

Photograph courtesy of Tim Ebner.Photograph courtesy of Tim Ebner.
Photograph courtesy of Tim Ebner.Photograph courtesy of Tim Ebner.

Tim Ebner, 33, lives in Capitol Hill and just put the finishing touches on his year-long backyard project. Originally just a brick patio, he redid everything on a strict budget, spending around $700 total, he says. He found the white outdoor dining set on Craigslist, and the wooden patio furniture is from Wayfair. Costco rope lights and Craigslist raised planters round out the space (Ebner is growing herbs, vegetables, and mint, he says). He and his fiancé had to postpone their wedding to next year, but the fire pit and grill were gifts from their registry.

Photograph courtesy of Morgan Scarboro.Photograph courtesy of Morgan Scarboro.
Photograph courtesy of Morgan Scarboro.Photograph courtesy of Morgan Scarboro.

Morgan Scarboro wanted to create a spot at her Adams Morgan home where she could hang out and have a cocktail after work, she says. So she decided to give this tiny patio a glow-up. She’s usually a trial-and-error person when it comes to decorating spaces, she says, but since this area is so small, she used an online furniture planning tool to make sure everything she bought would fit. To distract from the view of the brick wall across the way, Scarboro hung string lights and flower planters along the railing.

Photograph courtesy of Anthony Hunt.Photograph courtesy of Anthony Hunt.
Photograph courtesy of Anthony Hunt.Photograph courtesy of Anthony Hunt.
Photograph courtesy of Anthony Hunt.Photograph courtesy of Anthony Hunt.
Photograph courtesy of Anthony Hunt.Photograph courtesy of Anthony Hunt.
Photograph courtesy of Anthony Hunt.Photograph courtesy of Anthony Hunt.

Anthony Hunt, 31, has completed several outdoor projects while spending more time at his Shaw home. He built and stained a wooden planter and drilled holes in a galvanized tub (bottom, right) to plant strawberries. He also ordered metal planters online for vegetables (top, right), hung flower beds (top, center), and built a rolling planter box (top, left), which is filled with herbs to use in cocktails. He also decided to build and stain his own wooden table (bottom, left) when he realized all the ones he liked online cost thousands of dollars. His version cost $200 (and his dogs Atlas and Jean-Luc seem to approve).

Photograph courtesy of Blake Johnson.Photograph courtesy of Blake Johnson.
Photograph courtesy of Blake Johnson.Photograph courtesy of Blake Johnson.
Photograph courtesy of Blake Johnson.Photograph courtesy of Blake Johnson.
Photograph courtesy of Blake Johnson.Photograph courtesy of Blake Johnson.

Blake Johnson, 36, and his girlfriend Paris Sachek, 32, live together in Alexandria. Johnson has been working on the backyard for several years, but it wasn’t until Sachek recently moved in and the pandemic hit that they put the finishing touches on it. Even though they’re both essential workers, they used their weekends and date nights at home for the outdoor redesign, which took about a month. Sachek began by scouring Pinterest and Google Images for inspiration, then the duo hit Home Depot and Greenstreet Gardens for plants and supplies. The outdoor furniture is from Overstock, and the couple purchased a custom metal sign from Etsy bearing Johnson’s last name. A fountain, string lights, and candles add to the atmosphere.

Photograph courtesy of Shane Morgan.Photograph courtesy of Shane Morgan.
Photograph courtesy of Shane Morgan.Photograph courtesy of Shane Morgan.
Photograph courtesy of Shane Morgan.Photograph courtesy of Shane Morgan.
Photograph courtesy of Shane Morgan.Photograph courtesy of Shane Morgan.

Shane Morgan, 37, turned his previously worn-down Brightwood patio (top, left) into a backyard hangout space with a grill and planters. He let the way the light hits the yard dictate the layout, he says: the left side gets more sunlight, so that’s where he put his planters, and the right side has shade, hence the furniture. He and his father looked up some easy plans online for making raised planters, ordered all the supplies for pick-up from Home Depot, and got it done over four days. He didn’t want any outdoor furniture that was too fancy, he says, so he stuck to Amazon. The fire pit is from Home Depot.

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Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. Her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Petworth.

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