Thanks to summer’s long days and fair weather, home improvement projects are in full swing. Hammers are banging, power saws are screaming and lawnmowers are sputtering as homeowners busily spruce up their homes and properties.

Home projects can also provide a chance for family togetherness. You can even include small children in certain projects as long as you keep them safe throughout. Doing projects together with you helps your children learn, contribute and gain a sense of accomplishment.

In most regions, summer is the best time for improvements – especially outdoor ones. While it’s important to repair damage or make improvements to increase resale value, the outdoor upgrades listed below are all about fun. Here are a few summer projects that lead to family fun and summer enjoyment:

1. Build a Garden Shed or Clubhouse

Building a garden shed can accomplish several goals. Primarily, of course, you end up with a garden shelter that can store tools and equipment year-around, taking the strain off your garage.

But another perk worth considering is this: If you complete the shed early in the summer, your kids can use it as a clubhouse, playhouse or fort for the rest of the summer, keeping them happily occupied. Just be ready for some serious negotiations when the time comes to convert the clubhouse to storage.

Another less obvious benefit is the opportunity to teach know-how and skills. Because building a shed involves basic building practices, it becomes a great way to learn fundamental home construction. Building a shed is kind of like building a house, but on a much smaller scale.

For plans or instructions, search “how to build a gable shed” online. Or, to simplify the job, consider buying a garden shed kit at a major home improvement center.

Man sanding backyard deck2. Make Outdoor Areas More Usable

If you haven’t already handled improvements to your existing patio, deck or pool, do these as soon as possible so you can enjoy them throughout the summer. At the very least, pay attention to how your family uses your outdoor areas this summer so you can make improvements by next summer.

Note the angle of the sun at the beginning, middle and end of summer so you can consider heat control and shade improvements. Consider, for example, whether planting a few trees this summer might create natural shade next summer. Or, for more immediate results, build a patio roof, trellis or garden screen to provide welcomed shade.

3. Organize the Garage

OK, so this job may not sound like a lot of fun at first, but by the time you get well into it, you’ll be glad you’re doing it. Clear summer weather affords you the opportunity to drag everything out of the garage onto the driveway where you can sort, organize and toss unneeded items.

Installing shelving, cabinetry and racks in the garage will help you maximize organization in the space. As a result, you and your family will be able to find and use tools, sports equipment and anything else that is stored in the garage when you need them.

Doing this job early in the summer makes sense because it will help you clear usable space for doing workshop projects, potting plants or enjoying other hobbies.

4. Install a Garden Water Feature

It’s hard not to love a garden fountain, stream or pool, especially on a hot day, when the sound and movement of water in your garden or yard can be meditative and refreshing.

Using a small water pump, you can construct a fountain from almost anything. Many ideas as well as complete assembly instructions are available online.

Installing a garden pool is generally more involved. Though you can find plans and instructions online, you may need the help of a landscape professional to design and build a successful garden pool. If you build a garden pool, be sure small children cannot get near it unattended.

5. Build or Refinish a Deck

A low-level deck is the perfect stage for all types of family activities, from barbecues to yoga and sunbathing. If you have a deck that has seen better days, now is the time to get it back in shape.

If you don’t have a deck but you wish you did, search information on how to build a simple deck online. You’ll find a variety of easy-to-build plans and instructions. If you’re an accomplished do-it-yourselfer, you can build it yourself. Otherwise, line up a contractor as soon as possible.

6. Lay a Sod Lawn

Early in the summer, you still have time to get the lawn you’ve always wanted. By using sod – rolled up strips of pregrown lawn – you can turn a struggling lawn or barren soil into a lush green carpet within a few days. By the middle of summer, your kids can be doing somersaults, playing croquet and running through the sprinklers on it.

The secrets to a successful sod lawn are planning and preparation – including amending the soil. Though you can do the work yourself, it usually pays to hire a landscaping contractor or lawn specialist to install a sod lawn.

Sod is sold by the square foot. Rolls cost from about 30 to 45 cents per square foot. Installed, expect to pay from $1 to $2 per square foot.

If you lay sod in the summer, you’ll need to water at least once a day for several weeks. Before installing a new lawn, be sure to plan for an automatic sprinkler system so you don’t spend your summer hand-watering.

7. Install an Above-Ground Pool

Few projects excite a family more than putting in a swimming pool. Of course, an in-ground pool can be a very expensive, major improvement. But an above-ground pool is an amenity you can install for as little as $1,000, though most homeowners spend about $3,000 on one.

An above-ground pool requires a relatively flat and level area of ground (not lawn) that is at least 8 to 10 feet from trees. You can find thorough instructions online. Check with your local building department about permits, codes and restrictions.

Be aware that an above-ground pool requires regular maintenance and several thousand gallons of water. Think twice before installing one if your region is prone to drought. In most cases, an above-ground pool is not considered a permanent improvement that will increase a home’s value. In fact, if it isn’t installed with attention to aesthetics, an above-ground pool can be an eyesore. The best results are pools that combine with surrounding decks, which, of course, can cost significantly more. Be sure small children cannot go near the pool without very close supervision.