DIY Outdoor Trash Station
Do you have any problem spots in your home routine? Like the trash station outside? Nobody likes taking out the garbage, but here’s a hack that’s made this chore a little less dreadful around here.
Taking out the trash has primarily been my (Leah’s) chore since moving into the new house. I really don’t mind it, and I think it’s landed on my list because I’m much more on top of noticing when it’s full. We honestly don’t have a lot of trash to speak of. (At least 2x more recycling, hence two recycling bins and only one trash can.) And I seem to always remember when trash day and recycling day come each week, therefore I take them down to the curb. I actually like doing the easy little things like that. Makes me feel like I can check something off my to-do list and get a few feel-good, easy wins around the house.
This is where we would put the trash cans before, against the side of the garage. But when we get a lot of rain (like we have been lately, oofdah!), it gets muddy around our trash stash. Grass seems immune to growing in the shade here, and the area was a slippery, dirty eyesore. Probably not the biggest or most amazing transformation we’ve ever done, but it was an easy project that’s definitely helped ease this leg of our household routine.
Pouring a Concrete Slab
Our solution was to pour a small concrete patio for the three cans to sit on. The goal was for this to always stay dry and keep things looking tidy, while also having an even surface to slide the cans onto easily.
- Bags of concrete mix (we ended up using about 7)
- 3 12′ 2×4’s
- Speed square
- Miter saw or Circular Saw
- Tape measure
- Screwdriver and Screws
- Metal strip *optional*
- Large bucket or wheelbarrow for mixing concrete
- Cement edge trowel
- Tamper tool
- Flat/square shovel
- Trash cans 🙂
Like I said, we didn’t end up using all the bags of concrete mix, but it’s better to start with more than you think you’ll need than to run out half way through your project. (It dries rapidly.) Assess the size of the area you want to pour your concrete, and read the square footage on the bag to determine how much you’ll need. Buy a few extra, just in case. We used about 7/10.
First, we cut a temporary frame out of 2×4’s for the area we planned to fill with concrete. Measure carefully and be sure you end up with all 90 degree angles for your rectangle or square.
We set our 2×4’s down first to mark out the edges.
Then we leveled out the piece of ground, digging two or three inches down.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. The square-nosed shovel helps keep a straight edge all the way around.
You’ll obviously want to call anytime before you dig to be sure there aren’t gas lines below. In this case it’s a super shallow dig, but fyi.
Once you’ve shoveled out the perimeter, start to work your way inward.
Next, use this ground-compacting tamper tool to pack the ground down. Then level the area to make sure you have a smooth, flat surface. In our case, we wanted a slight slant to roll the trash cans up. But not so much that they’d roll down. So we made a level surface, then tapered it to a slight incline.
Now you can screw your 2×4’s together to create the frame!
Wedge the frame into the ground and do a little more packing.
And some more…
This sets up the foundation for your concrete surface, so make sure it’s level and just how you want it before moving on. Take your time on this step.
Pouring the Concrete
We had some scrap pieces of metal on hand to use as rebar to reinforce the concrete mix. This isn’t 100% necessary, but will likely increase the life of your concrete slab.
Just cut them up and sprinkle them inside your area.
Once mixed, get pouring that sexy slab!
It’s going to take a few batches, so keep moving and mixing. It helps to have a partner on hand: one for the hose and one to mix with a shovel.
Use your hand trowel and shovel to smooth and pack in the concrete, section by section.
Fill it flush to the top of your timber frame.
If at any point it looks too dry before you’re finished, sprinkle a little water on top.
Keep smoothing it out. It doesn’t have to be perfect here either.
See the long 2×4 here ^ ? We used that to run across the frame, skimming off any extra to create a perfectly smooth surface. Like leveling off a measuring cup with a knife (yes, all my analogies are baking related.) After that, you can fine-tune spots with your hand trowel.
Here’s the magic of the leveling 2×4.
We also used this edge trowel to define the edges and make it easier to pry away from the frame.
This trowel is bent at 90 degrees. Gently run it along all sides.
After you’ve let your creation dry (24-48 hours), it’s safe to pry off the wood frame.
And there you go! Any type of surface you want, you got. Maybe we’ll try concrete countertops next? Who knows.
Then we smooth in the surrounding area to bring it up to the same height.
Joe packed in the dirt around it and added more to keep it flush with the ground.
Now we can park all three trash cans neatly.
This may be the only time you’ll see Joe taking out the trash. 😆
Much better. It’s not the most exciting update ever, but it’s helped start to get the yard a little more in order. The best part is that it only took an hour or two, and only cost around $20!
We’d eventually love to add some wood chips, patio pavers or gravel around this area. And also add some shrubs or climbing plants. Maybe a walkway. It will be super nice to be able to shovel or snowplow this surface in winter. As we mentioned, grass is allergic to growing right here, so we need a solution. Any ideas for us?
What’s been your biggest back (or front) yard project this summer?