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19 April 2020

The global Coronavirus pandemic has seen a strong government response with the clear message for Australians to isolate at home with families. With many Aussies now homebound, a new trend has emerged that’s been termed “Work on Home!”

Since the federal government encouraged all Australians who could do so, to work from home, Google Trends data shows a spike in interest in working from home projects and a surge in demand for home office solutions and ideas. As those working from home establish their new home office, their attention turns to the backyard for the next home improvement project they can complete during containment, turning work from home into work on home.

“Once the home office has been made over, the backyard is the next natural target for DIY projects because while we are sitting at the new desk glancing out the window, we’re remembering all those jobs we’ve been putting off”, explains Adbri Masonry brand ambassador and landscaping expert, Jason Hodges.

The desire to limit contact with people outside the family unit has seen a steady increase in the number of people searching for DIY projects according to Google, with Aussies looking to get it done by themselves as opposed to bringing outsiders into the home.

“Australian’s have always had a love affair with the outdoors, and the prospect of our outdoor time being exclusively at home for the next few months is spurring people into action, motivating homeowners of all skill levels to tackle new DIY projects to improve the outdoor area and garden”, says Jason Hodges.

Margaret Sheahan from Mackay recently used her time to work on a home project with great results.

“We used the Miniwall® blocks as a garden wall”, Margaret said. “They were easy to work with and have improved the street appeal. We have a lot of positive feedback from neighbours and friends. We will be using them again on another garden in our front yard.”

Technology makes it possible to DIY almost any project with thousands of guides, videos and articles on DIY projects like lawn care, laying step stone pavers and creating edible veggie patches to feed the family.

Jason Hodges Top Work on Home project ideas for home isolation.
1. Edible Veggie Garden

Creating a garden bed for your veggies is a fun and easy project for DIY’ers of all levels. This project pays for itself as you start to grow your household a supply of fresh quality produce that’s only been handled by you, saving trips to the increasingly crowded super markets.

“There are a number of styles of veggie gardens, with some ready to go off the shelf and others requiring building. The ones you can make into any shape from concrete blocks like Adbri’s DIY friendly Versawall® are the ones I most often recommend as they are great for families, and they’re concrete, so they’re built to last the test of time”, says Jason.

Check out our two blogs that will help you get started: Top Tips To Starting Your Own Vegetable Garden and our Step By Step Instructions on How To Build Your Vegetable Garden.

2. Re-invigorate Your Lawn

Lawn care is the easiest job you can do at home – it just takes routine and commitment following these basics:

• Regular (and responsible) watering – deal with dry spots and water at dusk or dawn so your lawn has a chance to absorb the water to save wastage. Use a wetting agent to amplify your watering efforts.

• Feeding – your lawn is like the best of us, it loves a good feed! Autumn is the second most important time to feed your lawn ensuring that it is well prepared to last through winter.

• Weeding – weeds are generally less of an issue in winter, however, the infamous bindii does start growing in Autumn to annoy us come summer. Deal with it, and any other intruders, with a weed killer suitable for your lawn type.

“There is so much advice out there and the Lawn Solutions Australia website is a great place to start,” says Jason.

3. Create a New Outdoor Room

Home isolation, social distancing, work from home and now, school from home, can have the family abode feeling tighter than ever before. A great way to unlock a new space in your home is by creating an outdoor room.

“Outdoor rooms, entertaining areas and patios are the pinnacle of a backyard renovation. No other project can deliver such a benefit to your lifestyle and the value of your home”, says Jason.

Now is the perfect time to start these types of projects as they are typically bigger and take longer to complete. You can do an outdoor room in stages, getting the foundation right first with a flat base of concrete pavers. If you choose a large format paver such as Euro® Stone, you can create paving patterns to suit your style.

Once you’ve got the base right, it’s time to dress the area;

• Choose a furniture setting that is big enough to cater for your immediate family. Consider your family unit and the way you like to interact. Will you want a formal dining table or a causal outdoor lounge?

• Consider built in furniture, such as a new DIY garden bed that doubles as seating or storage.

• Light up the night – the beauty of a great outdoor room is it can be used day and night. Organise some feature lighting like festoons or garden lights to ensure your room is versatile.

• Use all surfaces – if you’ve got a pergola, consider hanging greenery or creepers up the posts to add a green element to your new outdoor room.

4. Paint and Patching stand out features

Every home has a paint project waiting to be done. A fresh coat of paint will make any surface look new, whether you’re refreshing a wall with the same colour or changing the look completely, painting is a DIY project that delivers instant results.

“Painting fences of pine or aluminium are great projects, they’re very easy with a roller and they’ll bring a new dynamic to your yard. Choose white, or also black because it actually masks the fence making everything else pop, including your magnificent plants”, says Jason.

5. Fire Pit

Fire Pits can be used immediately and as soon as you build, it becomes the immediate focus and central point of your backyard. It’s also an incredibly easy project to complete using DIY friendly concrete blocks like Adbri’s Miniwall®.

“Fire pits are the family projects, no other item you buy or build in the backyard will bring people together like a fire pit”, says Jason.

How to create a fire pit in 5 steps with Miniwall® blocks:

1. Locate an area for your fire pit. Consider windows and doors as you don’t want them too close to the fire.

2. Prepare the foundation. If you have an existing paved area, you can go directly on top of this. If you have grass, you can remove the turf and drop down some pavers to make a level base if needed.

3. Mark out the shape of your firepit.

Miniwall® is perfect for circular fire pits and you can create with just 21 blocks per course. Once you’ve marked out your shape, start laying the blocks. If you are laying onto pavers, you can place the blocks directly on top. If you are building on top of soil, spread some bedding sand down first and screed to level before you start laying the blocks.

4. Use a brush to remove dust and debris from the tops of blocks before laying the next course. Apply a line of landscape grade adhesive underneath each block and place on top of the course below. Remember, you need to install in a “brick bond” pattern so the block above sits on the join of the two blocks below (as pictured).

5. When you’ve reached desired height (usually 2-4 courses) you’re ready to bring in the finishing touches. For a nicer look, sprinkle some gravel or decorative stone within the circle and then place your steel fire pit in the centre. Grab some kindling, wood, marshmallows and the family and you’re ready to enjoy your first firepit.

Important safety note: Always keep a minimum 500mm distance between the open flame and backs of the blocks. Generally, a metal fire pit will resolve this. Always pay attention to local and state fire bans. Always enjoy your fire pit with a bucket of water or sand handy. Even though you’ve created a circular block “safety” barrier around the flame, keep a close eye on kids and pets!

6.Plant for Spring – a renewal for all

With the Australian government forecasting the coronavirus health emergency and social distancing restrictions could be in place for 6 months through to September, spring may signal a potential end of the worst of COVID-19, aligning with the earth’s natural period of renewal new life.

“It’s so important we all do our bit to stay home during this crisis, but there will be plenty of social catching up to do once we’re on the other side and the backyard will be the place to be. Use this time to build an amazing garden so that come springtime the vibrant greenery, flowering shrubs and plants add colour and vibrancy to your outdoor area”, says Jason.



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