DIY Network

How to Create an Outdoor Entertainment Center

A custom outdoor entertainment center is perfect for showing movies. It's like having your own private drive-in without having to get in the car.

More in Outdoors

  • Time

    Two Days

  • Price Range

    $2,500 - $5,000

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard


Step 1: Grade the Area

This site used to be a track for remote-control cars, so it was riddled with tunnels and small ditches. The crew and homeowners cleared away boulders and used professional-grade rototillers to loosen the soil and make it easier to work. After knocking down the high spots, use grading rakes or iron rakes until the entire area is close to level.

Step 2: Tamp Down the Area

Use lawn rollers to compact the soil for a stable surface. These available for rent and are normally used to roll new sod so it connects to the soil underneath. To use, fill the roller with water and push it like a lawnmower.

Step 3: Install Weed Fabric

The best theaters never have weeds, and neither will this one. Cover the entire area with a sturdy weed fabric, overlapping the rows of fabric by 1 foot or more to prevent gaps.

Step 4: Spread Gravel

The crew topped this area with 3/8-inch Sierra limestone; its silvery, grey/green color complements the olive trees in the yard. Spread the gravel throughout the area, building it up to a depth of about four inches.

Step 5: Add a Horseshoe Pit

For more active fun, the crew installed basic horseshoe pits around the seating area. To build a simple horseshoe pit, dig a squared-off hole a few inches deep and box it in on three sides with redwood. A piece of plywood supported by a simple wooden frame serves as a backstop, and a forming stake driven into the center of the pit makes a perfect target post. Cover the bottom of the pit with a deep layer of sand to finish.

Step 6: Accessorize

To turn this space into an outdoor movie palace, add landscape lighting, speakers, a projector and an inflatable movie screen. This heavy-duty screen inflates in minutes, but folds down to the size of a golf bag for easy storage.

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