Brad Staggs, and DIY show producer and host, and a licensed contractor, is a strong believer in continuing to entertain in the backyard well into fall and winter. “Outdoor living is becoming a huge way of life for more and more people,” says Brad. “I like the phrase ‘sta-cation’: It means hanging out in your own space and enjoying life, even as the weather gets cooler.”

So what’s hot right now? According to Brad, “We’re seeing decks, arbors and pergolas and even cool dog houses that are more inviting than ever before.” If your backyard is less than presentable, Brad’s here to help with three fall projects designed to upgrade the look of your yard and add style and flair for your next party.

Dinner on the deck. Now is a great time to build a deck! The traditional building season is drawing to a close and builders’ calendars will be opening up a bit. Think outside the box and take your deck beyond summer: Add a portable fire pit for roasting marshmallows, and be sure your benches are extra-wide to accommodate the entire family wrapped in cozy blankets.

Toasty paws. If the weather’s too nice for Fido to snooze in front of the fireplace inside, be sure he has a great place of his own outside. Your faithful companion deserves a cool new pad: Add columns, a window or two and a front porch and he’ll never come out!

Flowers: The crowning touch. There are many plants that bloom throughout the fall; choose one with a color you like and grow it up the sides of a built-in arbor. Within a few years, you’ll have a wonderful natural blind from the neighbors’ prying eyes!

“This increased focus on outdoor living, no matter the season, seems to be a result of the economy,” concludes Brad. “I think because we’re all feeling the crunch of higher energy prices, anything we can do to escape for a little while with our families is a good thing.”

As with any backyard DIY project, building product selection is important. For all of the above projects, Brad chooses pressure-treated Southern Pine. “It’s a no-brainer to me: pressure-treated Southern Pine is beautiful, natural, long-lasting, sturdy, safe for families and pets, and wood is a great value right now. If the environment is your thing, then wood is your product: It’s one of the only naturally renewable products out there. And our forests are in better shape today than they were a century ago!”

SPAN – the Southern Pine Awareness Network, recently participated in the 2008 Southern Living Idea House program by providing pressure-treated Southern Pine to build a deck, a pergola and a dog house. You can see photos of the projects and download plans at; click on “Southern Living Idea House.” The August 2008 issue of the magazine featured the homes and the projects; more information is available at

So bring on the World Series, bring on football season, and bring on the chips and dip! With these fantastic new elements in your backyard, you’re sure to be the hit of the fall (outdoor) entertaining season!

For dog house and pergola plans, plus other creative weekend DIY project ideas, please visit – Courtesy of MS.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.