Recently we told you about the summer home improvement projects that offer the most bang for the buck. Think small and smart, we advised, so that you would have more time to enjoy the season's fun. Well, many people find fun in tackling even smaller but no less rewarding DIY jobs around the home.

Most of the home improvement projects here can be done in a weekend. Pick one or a few that are right for your home and lifestyle. In no time it will still be summer and you'll be enjoying the results of the DIY project.

Build a Tree Bench

When your summer get-togethers in the backyard leave people smiling and sun-kissed but also trying to eat standing up or sitting in folding chairs sinking gradually into the lawn, provide the most natural spot for relaxation: a shaded bench under a tree. The folks at This Old House have a plan for a generously sized bench that encircles a tree, and they estimate 20 hours of work and about $770 in materials.

Herb container garden in old wheelbarrow.

Plant a Herb Garden

A rusty wheelbarrow or a child's metal wagon can make a charming herb garden. You'll never run out of crowd-pleasing pesto when you grow your own basil. The portability of these gardens can help you set the stage for a backyard party by blocking a less pleasing sight (a coiled garden hose, a chipped paver) or by gently directing guests to walk where you'd like.

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Build a Fire Pit

People have been gathering around fires since . . . well, we learned how to make fire. Nothing's more conducive to both solitary reflection and laidback socializing. The warmth also extends the hours per day when you can enjoy the outdoors. Design your own fire pit as primitive or fancy as you like, or consider building one from a complete kit. This video by Home Depot might spark your interest.

Backyard croquet play.

Set Up a Croquet Field

For a game once played by royalty, croquet can sure make staid adults look a little silly as they stoop to knock a bright wooden ball through a hoop. We can all use a little convivial silliness in our lives. Kids especially enjoy the game. Small ones have the best view of the action, which happens around their feet. The fun starts when you divide the players into hot and cool teams. Hot plays the red and orange balls; cool the blue and black. Read more about this classic outdoor game in a guide published by California State University Channel Islands here.

Install LED Lights Along Walkways

Boost the curb appeal of your home and increase safety when the long days of summer give way to night by installing LED or other low-voltage lighting along the front pathway to your home. A typical system requires no wiring experience. You'll need only three things: a transformer, low-voltage electrical cables, and the fixtures (This Old House).

Hang Exterior Shutters

Both attractive and functional, hinged exterior shutters provide relief from summer sun and protection from winter storms. The experts at Shutterland show you how it's done in a video and say the project is easy, requiring only time, tools, and shutter hardware. Video below.

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