A Backyard Makeover Guide

The Ultimate Backyard Makeover Guide

Your backyard can be a place where memories are made and an oasis away from the challenges of everyday life. You can spend a lot, a little or simply spruce up your yard with some tender love and care. The possibilities are endless and only limited by your own imagination and vision. We’ll look at some budget friendly backyard ideas as well as some that require a larger investment. If you're a DIY type of person then the transformation of your backyard will be an even more fun project for you to tackle. For some great backyard makeover inspiration keep reading!

Backyard makeover tips on a budget

7 Ideas for a Backyard Makeover on a Budget

Before you get started on your backyard transformation it’s a good idea to have a plan. What are you hoping to accomplish? Are you just tweaking some things or are you going to have to rent an excavator and have a dumpster on site to clear out all of your old patio stones and yard waste?

The best place to start is by defining your budget. If you don’t want to spend a lot of your savings, but you still have your heart set on a backyard makeover there are several things you can do. Here are a few quick budget conscious ideas that can transform your backyard space this year:

  1. Apply grass seed to thicken your lawn
  2. Dig out some gardens and add topsoil
  3. Plant a few flowers
  4. Add inexpensive PVC edging to accent your flower beds
  5. Always keep your eye out for sales and bargains
  6. Start early in the spring and make small changes over time
  7. Research on YouTube, Home Depot and Lowes DIY channels

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How Do I Design My Backyard? (Bigger Budget Ideas)

Even if you’re not afraid to expand your budget a bit, that doesn’t mean you have a clear plan of where to start. If you’re a visual person you may want to look at one of the many landscaping design apps that are available.

Many of them have a free option. Some even allow you to take a picture of your yard and make virtual changes so you can see what your backyard makeover might look like once it’s finished. We have a great article on some of the best apps for landscaping design if you want to give this a try.

There are all kinds of different design elements you might want to consider including in your DIY backyard remodel. You may want to add some trees, flowerbeds, a vegetable garden, a new patio or even a backyard pond. There are so many possibilities, it’s hard to cover them all in one article, but we’ll take a close look at some of the more popular choices.

Transform Your Outdoor Cooking Space

We can’t think of a better place to start a backyard makeover than in your outdoor cooking space. In the summer months, it can be the center of family life. There are all kinds of options, from a simple BBQ on an existing patio to creating a full blown outdoor kitchen with granite countertops, stainless steel cabinets and a built-in grill. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and your budget.

Patio Dining and Socializing

Your outdoor kitchen is just the first step in your backyard makeover. It’s nice to have that perfect cooking setup, but you also need a place to enjoy your tasty creations with friends and family.

Building an outdoor patio of your own will provide you with a place to enjoy great food, provide exceptional outdoor entertainment and, enjoy the summer sun. You can build a wooden deck, pour a concrete patio or just lay a few patio stones. If you're looking to accesorize your outdoor living space, new outdoor patio furniture, new cushions or an outdoor carpet can really transform your patio area at minimal cost.

Socializing on the patio

Lighting Can Transform Your Outdoor Space

Lighting can truly transform your yard's appearance at night and it’s a relatively inexpensive backyard idea you may want to consider. If you have a gazebo, some strategically placed string lighting can add a nice effect. Solar lights along pathways and flower beds are another great idea. You can also add motion sensor solar lights in darker areas for safety and illumination.

Build Memories Around the Fire Pit

A patio isn’t the only great spot for socializing you might want to consider for your backyard makeover. A fire pit area can be a great addition to a backyard space as well.

The placement of your fire pit is crucial to the rest of the design of your backyard. Choosing a location with ample seating space is the best approach. With portable seating, you and your guests can adjust how close or far from the fire you’d like to be. This makes it great for roasting marshmallows or for keeping warm from a distance.

You can build your own fire pit with an old steel barrel or bricks and mortar if you have some decent DIY skills. Alternatively, there are some beautiful propane powered fireplaces available if you have the budget for it. There are plenty of different designs you can use to make your fire pit unique and meaningful to your outdoor space.

A fire pit will create a warm and cozy atmosphere that you and your guests will enjoy for years to come.

Fire pit in backyard

Create Intimate Appeal with Pathways

If you’re going to add lighting to your pathways you’ll want to create them first. A well thought out path can be both a practical addition for your backyard and a beautiful addition to its overall appeal. There are many different options when it comes to creating pathways from simple gravel, to intricate ceramic tiles.

Before you get started, think about where you’ll want them. Do you need a path along the side yard to the backyard? How about a path from the patio to the garden shed? Creating pathways as part of a backyard makeover takes some planning, but it’s well worth the time and effort. It’s one of the easiest landscaping ideas to implement.

Creative Accents and Tranquil Spaces

So far we’ve concentrated on practical additions to your yard, but what about the finishing touches? There are many different creative ways you can change the look of your yard with a backyard makeover.

You may want to add a waterfall, a water fountain, a bird feeder or even a sculpture or two. Just keep in mind balance and symmetry when you consider adding these finishing touches. If you’ve created a Japanese Garden, a Roman water fountain probably won’t make much sense.

Backyard fountain

Include Kid Friendly Backyard Ideas

If you have children you’ll want to consider their needs when you start on a backyard makeover. Consider creating a designated play area in your outdoor space. This might include a sandpit, swing set, a pool or just an open area to play games like cornhole, horseshoes or Bocci. Perhaps you want to use that area for outdoor movie nights as well. The key is to consider all of this in your initial planning stage so that your kids can enjoy your backyard as well.

Tools And Materials You'll Find Useful

With so many ways to tackle backyard makeovers, you may find yourself wondering what kind of tools you may need to get started. We’ll give you a breakdown of which garden tools and materials you’ll find useful to make your project fun and enjoyable.

Standard Garden Tools

Garden Tools

These tools are the usual suspects you’ll find in a tool shed. A rake will help clean up the area of any leaves and other garden debris laying around. A garden shovel will come in handy to dig out some of the soil to make room for plants or flowers you’d like to include. A larger digging shovel is perfect for deeper holes when placing a fence and the like.

Wooden Planks

Planks of Wood

Whether you’re building a patio wood deck or creating your very own gazebo, wood will be a material that you’ll be using a lot of. The most efficient way to purchase them is to find out what the measurements you'll need are first, and then choosing the right size at the hardware store. Most home hardware stores will even cut it for you!

Pea Gravel

Pea Gravel
If you'd like to create some beautiful walkways in your outdoor space, pea gravel is a great material you can use. You can let your creativity run wild when using pea gravel as it works well for creating designs around your driveway, fire pit and paver patio.


Can of Paint

Finding the right color paint is one challenge but knowing which type of paint to use shouldn’t be. When using paint outdoors, whether it’s for a fence or the house, you should always make sure it’s waterproof. This will ensure it’s properly protected from the elements and won’t chip or fade away.

Adding primer before you add the paint is also a great idea. The primer will seal the surface you’ll be painting on, help the paint stick and protect the color from fading. Find exterior paint and primer at your local home hardware store and ask a clerk to point you in the right direction.


Garden Stones

If you want to make a rock garden or plan on creating pathway stones will be a must for decoration and to be used as steppingstones. If you're creating a fire pit in your outdoor space, stones will come in handy as well. Backyard makeovers that involve landscaping can incorporate a lot of different type of stones.

Backyard Makeovers — Pet Addition

Your four legged friends should also be considered in your design preparations. If you have an open yard without a lot of shade you may want to consider building a kennel for your pet so they can get out of the sun when it gets a little too hot. You may also want to consider a pet pool for them to cool off in — the kids aren’t the only ones that enjoy cooling off in the pool!

Should your pet have a habit of wandering off exploring the outdoors, you may want to incorporate fencing if there already isn’t any. This way you can keep them safe from nearby traffic or dangerous wildlife. It's also worth noting that if your pet is likely to find its way into your garden, you'll need to put up some sort of garden siding that will protect your plants from becoming a midday snack! Making your backyard pet friendly is important and should be factored into your brainstorming phase when planning backyard makeovers.

Dog running in backyard holding a chew toy

What are the 7 Principles of Landscaping?

7 Principles of Landscaping

We all have our own ideas about what the best backyard space looks like, but there are some guiding principles to keep in mind now that you have a good idea of what direction your backyard makeover will take. Before you start on your new adventure keep these 7 principles of landscaping in mind so that you can be confident that your backyard makeover is the best it can be:

  1. Unity — Does everything you're doing fit your overall theme?

  2. Balance — Details matter, for example if you have a planter on one side of your patio, you probably want one on the other side as well for balance.

  3. Simplicity — It’s tempting to add every element you love to your yard, but too much can create an imbalance. Simplicity should be your guiding principle. Add a few changes for a stunning effect without extra clutter.

  4. Variety — While we’ve mentioned simplicity and reduced clutter, it doesn’t mean that you can’t add a little variety as long as your different design elements compliment each other and fit your overall look.  For example, you may have 6 foot evergreens lining your back fence, tall grasses in your flower beds and beautiful flowers in your patio planters. You’re not creating clutter by doing this, you’re just adding the right elements in the right area for some nice variety.

  5. Scale — Each element of your backyard makeover should complement the others for an eye catching transition. You shouldn’t have one big tree on the side of the yard that sticks out like a sore thumb — it will draw attention to it and detract from what you’re trying to achieve.

  6. Sequence — How each element leads into the next is important. For example, if you create a unique pathway with offset pieces you still want it to fit an overall pattern for greatest effect — there has to be some overall pattern to it. Otherwise the end result may be a backyard that looks mismatched and unappealing.

  7. Emphasis — If you want something to standout as a talking point you have to consider emphasis. A central water fountain or sculpture are great examples. They may be singular elements, but they don’t create an imbalance in your yard. They’re meant to stand out and add the finishing touches to your amazing backyard makeover.

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