Creating your dream backyard doesn’t have to cost you thousands of dollars. With a few easy backyard ideas, you can have an outdoor space that’s comfortable, looks great and is perfect for entertaining. Learn how to beautifully make over your backyard using these inexpensive backyard ideas.
Build a DIY Deck or Patio
A deck or patio carves out a dedicated space for entertaining in your backyard. Plus, outdoor furniture sits more easily on a hard, level surface. Getting a deck or patio professionally installed can quickly eat up your budget. Building a DIY deck or patio can save you money, while still creating beautiful results.
- Build a floating or freestanding deck rather than a raised deck. Raised decks require more advanced carpentry skills and are typically more expensive and time-consuming to build. A floating deck rests freely on the ground and isn’t attached to your home, so you can make easy repairs and save money on building complicated structures. You also have the freedom to place a floating deck wherever you want in your yard.
- Build a concrete paver or brick patio. Laying pavers or bricks by yourself is easier than it sounds. Create unique patterns and shapes for a patio that is entirely your own design.
- Build a barefoot patio: Lay a grid of pavers with about one-inch of space between each one. Fill the spaces with a soft groundcover like moss.
- Create a gravel patio: Clear a patch of grass in your yard using a cultivator, then lay landscaping fabric and fill the space with gravel. This is one of the most affordable options for a patio space, especially when you need large backyard ideas on a budget. A bonus is that gravel requires little to no maintenance.
Tip: If you already have a deck, consider giving it a fresh coat of paint or stain to quickly and easily improve its look.
Give your backyard a whimsical look with these path ideas. Paths are an inexpensive way to segment large backyards, but they can be just as charming as accents to garden beds and smaller yards.
- Use the same barefoot patio technique for paths if you want an easy, overgrown and natural look. Space out pavers and fill the space between with your yard’s existing grass or with another groundcover.
- Use pressure treated and sealed wood boards to create wooden plank paths.
- Create easy gravel paths: If you struggle with flooding in your yard, gravel paths can help by collecting and letting runoff water pass through them. To prevent weeds and grass from growing up between the gravel, lay landscaping fabric before laying the gravel.
Build a Pergola
Shade your outdoor seating or dining area with a pergola. You can build a pergola from raw materials or find an affordable pergola kit. Pergolas offer vertical space for you to grow climbing plants or for you to decorate with lights. Alternatively, choose from other shade structures that better suit your space, such as canopies and patio covers.
Lay Fresh Mulch
- Choose uncolored mulch: Color-enhanced mulch is beautiful but can be more expensive than uncolored mulch, which has its own natural wood tones.
- Bark mulch degrades more slowly than shredded mulch, meaning you have to replace it less often.
- If you want mulch solely for the look of it and not for its soil nutrients, consider rubber mulch. It may be a more expensive initial purchase, but it can last ten or more years. By contrast, shredded mulch should be replaced once a year.
- Pine needles are an inexpensive, long-lasting mulch alternative. Pine needles only need to be replaced about every five years. Note that because pine needles are very flammable, they are not recommended for use in dry climates.
Plant a Tree
- Choose young trees and saplings: Trees can greatly vary in price, but usually younger trees are less expensive than older, larger trees.
- Plant fruit trees: Most fruit trees tend to be easy to take care of and can be pruned to fit your backyard space. You will have to be patient, though; it may take a year or more for newly planted trees to bear fruit.
- Trees, especially fruit trees, can add value to your home in the long run.
Start a Garden
- Plant perennials: Perennial plants will come back year after year. Annuals, on the other hand, will only last one season and will need to be replanted each year.
- Purchase young plants or start from seeds.
- Save money on groceries by starting an edible garden.
- Start a container garden on your back porch: Planting in containers is an easy alternative to adding garden beds. Garden containers are affordable, and some materials of containers can be painted to add bright pops of color to your yard.
- Build DIY raised garden beds.
- If you have a stump in your backyard, turn it into a mini garden rather than paying to remove it. Hollow out the center of the stump with a jigsaw and chisel. Fill the hollow with potting soil and plant flowers and succulents.
- Plant vertical gardens: Vertical gardens are great when you need small backyard ideas on a budget. Attach small containers to existing fences, hang premade vertical planters or create a DIY vertical planter to put against an exterior wall.
- Plant ornamental grasses: Ornamental grasses will take up a lot of space in your backyard but won't require the maintenance of a garden. Popular ornamental grasses include blue oatgrass, feather reed grass, fountain grass, maiden grass and zebra grass.
Tip: When starting a budget garden in your backyard, space out your purchases and plant in phases.
- Break up your backyard and emphasize certain spaces by building a small retaining wall. Build a retaining wall out of stacked pavers, masonry blocks or pressure treated wood.
- Add garden bed edging: Create your own custom edging from stone or wood or purchase inexpensive plastic or rubber edging.
- Recycle stone from other projects to create garden bed edging, walls, stepping stones and other DIY hardscaping ideas.
- Incorporate ground covers and succulents around the hardscaping for a soft, natural look.
Build a DIY Fountain
Adding water features to your yard is usually an expensive job, but you can save money by making a small DIY fountain instead.
- Put an inexpensive pump in a large ceramic planter. Surround the pump with stones or gravel, then fill the planter with water. Plug in the pump and you have an easy fountain for your patio.
- Stack multiple ceramic planters to create a tiered fountain.
- Use a metal watering can, wash tub and clear tubing to create a fountain that looks like a watering can continuously pouring water into the wash tub all by itself.
Customize Your Fence
Instead of installing a new fence, refresh the appearance of your existing fence. These fence customizations are also great small backyard ideas on a budget.
- Re-paint or re-stain a wood fence: A fresh finish can make an existing fence look brand new. Add some personality to your home by painting the fence a color that contrasts with the house color.
- Paint a mural on the fence: If you’re not an artist, consider using stencils to get a look you love.
- Cover your fence with greenery using trellises and vertical planters.
- Recycle a piece of old fencing to use as an accent in your garden beds.
Add Comfy Seating
When you need ideas that will help you enjoy your backyard more, try adding comfortable seating. Make your yard perfect for lounging so you spend more time outdoors.
- Add a hammock: If you have two trees near each other, string the hammock between them. If you don’t have two trees, many hammocks come with a stand. You can also make your own DIY hammock stand.
- Make your outdoor furniture stand out by adding colorful outdoor pillow and seat cushions.
- Thrift mismatched chairs and refinish them.
- Build an outdoor bench using masonry blocks. Put a foam seat cushion and an assortment of pillows on top.
- Create a shady spot to sit by, by building a DIY tree bench that wraps around the trunk of a backyard tree.
- Build a DIY porch swing or tree swing. Alternatively, search resale stores to find a porch or tree swing to refinish.
- Adirondack chairs and beach-style lawn chairs are affordable and low-maintenance seating options for smaller backyards.
Along with outdoor seating, consider adding an outdoor dining area so you can entertain.
- Build your own table or bar using wood, masonry blocks, reclaimed materials or a combination of materials.
- Bistro sets are a great option when you want a complete set of outdoor furniture for a lower price than if you had purchased all the pieces separately.
- Find and refinish outdoor tables and seating from a resale store.
- Repurpose old indoor furniture by refinishing and weatherproofing it before moving it outside.
Add an Outdoor Area Rug
Adding an area rug is a quick, easy and inexpensive backyard update. Outdoor rugs provide cushioning to anyone walking on your deck or patio, with the added benefit of covering unsightly cracks and stains. Rugs made for outdoor use are water-resistant and fade-resistant. The large variety of designs mean you can easily find the look that’s right for your backyard.
Get Creative with Lighting
Add a Fire Pit
Backyard fire pits are often considered a luxury, but many styles are available at lower price points.
- Premade fire pits are made from durable materials like steel and aluminum, come in various sizes and shapes and are typically inexpensive. Plus, you don’t need to install them. You can simply place them on your porch or patio.
- Adding a small fire pit to your backyard can create a cozy place to gather on cooler nights.
- If you have the space, you can install a built-in fire pit in your yard using a fire pit kit.
- Consider a dual-purpose fire pit table for your patio.
Sometimes all a back yard needs is better storage for garden tools, outdoor furniture, children’s toys and other miscellaneous items. Clear up your outdoor clutter with these inexpensive outdoor storage ideas:
- Build or buy shelves for your patio, deck, shed or garage.
- Add discreet storage benches to your assortment of outdoor furniture: Storage benches can double as seating and are great for storing pillows and blankets.
- Consider a storage cabinet for your tools: Small, subtle and easy to access, storage cabinets are a smart alternative when you don’t have the funds or space to install a garden shed.