DIY Backyard Skills Handbook

The Ecology Center, an educational facility in Orange County, held a series of DIY workshops in 2009 and 2010 to teach people practical, environmental solutions for the home.  With the popularity of the workshops, The Ecology Center decided to compile the projects as a reference, and that reference became Backyard Skills: A D.I.Y. Handbook.  We’ve been given a review copy to read and share on this site.

The first Backyard Skills edition includes 19 total projects among five chapters: energy, shelter, waste, food, and water.  Each project includes a description of the cost, time, and tools involved to completion.

To use one project as an example, building a pallet chair costs about $15, takes two hours, and requires a crowbar, hammer, saw, two pallets, wood glue, and certain nails and screws.

Other projects mentioned in the reference include: building a solar oven, planting a shade tree, making household cleaners, creating a worm bin, brewing homemade beer, designing a rain garden, and retrofitting a greywater drain pipe.  There’s also some additional information on home energy, water, and waste audits.

In the closing of Backyard Skills, the authors invite readers to “bring the tools, strategies, and practices featured in Backyard Skills into your home and then — and here’s where you can really make a difference — share them with your community.”  That’s a plan, so good luck if you win this copy or buy one from The Ecology Center.

[+] Order a copy of Backyard Skills: A D.I.Y. Handbook.

Update: The giveaway of this book has concluded.

  • Joel Waltner

    Thinking about building a house and this could definitely give me some ideas for reducing resources and costs

  • Robin

    I love the artwork! I’ve read a fair number of these types of books but I’m always ready to take on one more :)

  • Marc @ minimalistfreak

    This would make a great addition to my library.

  • Tom

    Contest Entry Post

  • Sage of Oregon

    Great way to foster a better relationship with neighbors!

  • K Spade


  • Aaron Delgadillo

     Nice giveaway!

  • Kat Polkadot

    This looks like such a nifty book!

  • Tj Stevens

    Thanks for bringing the book to my attention; whether I win or not I’ll have to grab a copy. 

  • Evan Brammer

    Very beautifully designed.  This would be great to have around the house.

  • John

    If sustainability is halfway between restoration and destruction, than resiliency is the skill that will permeate the continuum regardless of the result.  A book of this nature is just what Darwin ordered! 

  • Vallport

    The book looks amazing!

  • Casey Hyer

    I’m a father of 2 who just bought a house. I would love this as I am clueless

  • Jared Bybee

    I’d love the book.  Thanks


  • Lester Rios

    I’m currently designing my house to be a sustainable one. this could be of much help!

  • Kevin

    This book sounds great to keep my newly purchased Energy Star home going in
    the right direction.  Also a big THANKS
    to Jetson Green for all of your great ideas.

  • Debbie Moll

    My family could benefit from this book!

  • Martina Schuetzenhoefer

    OMG, I love this, it looks so interesting! would love to get a copy. :)

  • Wayne Ritchie

    I could use that

  • kali

    looks like a great book!  we are working on making a worm bin right now and the kids would love a solar oven!!

  • Brad K

    I would love to have something like this.

  • 1paulahenson

    Wish I’d thought of it!!

  • David Sigmon

    This handbook is a great idea. I’d love to get one in the giveaway. Also, I’d encourage more giveaways.

  • Carmen

    This would be a perfect book to help us become more sustainable with our limited money situation.

  • Jeremy Marin

    Looks like it’s got interesting and useful ideas.

  • Caitlin Close

    I learned how to make beer and seed bombs at the ecology center. Love that place! endless possibilities for learning!

  • Azlan Ayy

    I Love it!!!

  • Jason

    some cool projects.  just finished renovating a 1946 house and now we’re on to the backyard.  put me in for a chance to win a copy.  thanks

  • Casey

    Very useful information for not just surviving but keeping more in balance in North Carolina with it’s mixed-humid climate~thanks

  • Cassie burback

    Love it!

  • Benjamin Freeman

    Sounds like a great pamphlet on useful ways of re-use and re-building. Also interesting how many folks will jump on a chance to get something for free. But then I bet most of them like me has watched Junk Raiders. Free-Cycling at it’s best/worst.

  • Tshirtweather

    This looks awesome! If I don’t win I will buy a copy anyway.

    • Preston

      Tshirtweather, congrats!  You’re the winner of this book.  I’ll email you separately to get your information for shipment.  

  • Paul Westbrook

    Who doesn’t like free stuff.

  • Steve Bez

    Ooooh I’d love to share some of these with our customers! Any good HVAC energy saving tips in there?

  • Jo

    Thanks for bringing this book to my attention!

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