Backyards and balconies may not be the entrance to your home but they deserve attention, too. They’re often a blank canvas, made up of a small lawn, a few shrubs and trees, and perhaps a shed or playground. Your backyard could even be a balcony with a skyline view.
If you long for a retreat from the outside world, learn how you can transform your backyard into an oasis, a haven designed for relaxation and entertaining.
Check out these inexpensive ideas for creative solutions for your backyard haven. Renters and apartment dwellers keep reading, because we have ideas for your outdoor spaces, too.
With some planning, some repurposing and a willingness to do the work yourself, you can transform your outdoor space. Don’t worry about doing everything at once. Instead, tackle projects in chunks to get the job done.
Begin with a plan that takes into account any problem areas in your landscape such as steep slopes, poor lighting or drainage. The pages of The Home Depot blog are filled with inspirational backyard makeovers featured in the Patio Style Challenge where homeowners and renters share their experience and reveal amazing transformations.
FLOATING DECK project FOR UNDER $3,000
Cristina Garay of Remodelando La Casa took a challenging, steeply sloped site and created a floating deck over what was previously an overgrown playground.
Now that her children are older, the family can use the space for entertaining and gardening. Total cost for the floating deck: $2,700. Low-maintenance composite decking took up the bulk of the budget. Cristina and her brother-in-law built the deck over three weekends, putting in approximately 54 hours.
Notice the potting benches: they serve a dual purpose, storing gardening supplies and serving as a buffet during parties.
Renter-Friendly Slat Wall and patio projects for under $350
Sara Walk of Tell Love and Party faced a different challenge. She rents her California home with a tiny backyard. In addition to the constraints of budget, she had to make sure that whatever she installed could be removed without damaging the property.
Sara’s solution for enhancing a concrete slab patio rimmed by a strip of grass in the backyard: no-fuss concrete stepstones to enlarge the usable space and eliminate the maintenance of a grass border. Total cost for 60 pavers, paving sand and rock came to just over $100.
Sara got a lot of decor mileage out of the slat wall that hides a boring fence. Spending only $225 for 1- x 3-inch boards, screws and paint, she and her husband transformed the space in a single weekend.
The wall will be easy to dismantle when the time comes to move, although you can imagine that the landlord might decide to keep this improvement.
Balcony Herb Garden for under $75
What if your backyard is an apartment balcony? Check out Miles + Smiles’ balcony makeover that includes tropical plants and a view of the Minneapolis skyline.
Blogger Claudia Camargo makes the most of a small space by incorporating an herb garden in a repurposed galvanized beverage tub (see below). The beverage tub is just under $30, and with soil, herbs and tools this project totals about $75.
Looking for more ideas? Try these:
1. Add water features to bring soothing sounds into a backyard.
If you can’t have a splash pool, try our terra cotta water fountain project that costs under $100 and takes an afternoon to assemble.
2. Pathways guide the eye as they steer your steps through the garden and backyard. Whether stone, brick or mulch, many pathways can be created in a weekend. Depending on length and material, price varies.
3. Light the way with outdoor lighting. Prices begin at $20 for a 6-pack of solar LED lights and go up from there. Learn how to install line voltage outdoor lighting with our project guide when you’re ready to add pathway lights.
4. Repetition. When creating your backyard space, avoid visual chaos by creating visual harmony with consistency in the design.
A row of inexpensive terra cotta pots planted with boxwoods guides you to the garden gate. The same terra cotta pots in varying sizes can fill a corner of the patio, or guide you up the steps to your deck. Prices vary depending on length and material.
5. Whimsy works. Surprise visitors to your garden with whirligigs, birdhouses, statues, repurposed containers and fairy gardens. Make your backyard haven memorable with unique items that you create or purchase, either new or thrifted.
6. Abundant containers. Fill up the corners of your backyard with containers planted with low-maintenance succulents, colorful summer annuals, easy-care perennials, even ornamental grasses and small shrubs. Buy containers new or secondhand, and keep an eye out for unusual containers from repurposed items.
Discover more DIY projects for your backyard:
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