9 Budget-Friendly Backyard Renovation Ideas

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

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WORDS BY Gillian Grefe

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Published on June 12, 2020

A recent scientific study proves what we already know deep down: Getting outside is good for our health and well-being. According to Science Daily, exposure to green space reduces the risk of diseases and conditions like type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stress and high blood pressure. With so much time spent indoors these past few months, you’ve probably got the impulse to get outside—and we’ve got the inspiration. These backyard renovation ideas are beautifying and budget-friendly to help turn your outdoor space into an oasis this summer.

Give your existing deck a facelift by reaching for paint instead of stain. Painting your deck obscures the wood grain but adds a splash of color and creates a fresh, modern look. Gradient effects, stripes, and patterns are all possible, too, with a little creativity and a handful of paint colors. Be sure to choose an oil-based or acrylic deck paint, which is specially designed to fill small cracks and conceal flaws. You’ll also need to put in a bit of elbow grease: check out this HGTV guide on how to prep your deck before you paint it.

Photo via txconstruct.com

Sometimes, the path of least resistance can have the biggest wow factor when it comes to backyard renovation ideas. If painting your deck requires too much time or effort (you’ll need a fair amount of both), opt for an outdoor area rug instead. These rugs, typically made of synthetic polypropylene, are heavy duty, stain-resistant, waterproof, fade-resistant and easy to clean. They also tend to be much more affordable than interior rugs, particularly ones made of natural fibers like wool. This clean and classic option from Crate & Barrel has a subtly nautical palette while the gray tones in this Target rug would suit a range of outdoor aesthetics from boho to farmhouse. Outdoor rugs also work well on other flat, hard surfaces, like a concrete patio.

Creating a simple walkway within your backyard creates an instant focal point. Add a path from your back door to a gardening shed, pool, back gate or other commonly trekked journey. We personally like the European-inspired look of stone pavers or pea gravel, but cement pavers, brick or even mulch can work. You’ll want to consider comfort level (pea gravel looks great, but can be sharp!) as well as factors like how much use the pathway will get. This detailed guide from Midwest Living is a great place to start.

Depending on your comfort and expertise level, you can create your own garden arch or trellis using simple, inexpensive materials—see the how-tos here and here. Fortunately, these types of structures are also affordable to buy ready-made: this cheerful trellis is less than $30 at The Home Depot while this stately white garden arch radiates major Martha’s Vineyard vibes for under $200. Next, simply choose a climbing vine or flower—this will depend on your climate zone (check out the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map for help), but sweet peas, Boston ivy, bougainvilleas, wisteria and star jasmine are all beautiful and popular options.

Photo via Flickr user Simon James

While building a pergola might be outside most people’s DIY capabilities for backyard renovation ideas, installing this premade option from Birch Lane is a bit easier. Add lounge chairs and even curtains to help create the ultimate outdoor living room.

If you have a wooden fence, you’ve got a blank canvas. After pressure washing and adding a coat of acrylic primer, paint a mural or graphic pattern on the fence to create an eye-catching perimeter around your yard. Or, use simple 1×2 cedar boards to build a tonal, geometric trellis directly onto the fence—check out the full tutorial here.

It might be awhile until we feel comfortable in movie theaters again. But with major motion pictures being released as instant streaming, you can watch new releases (and stay socially distanced) outside. This outdoor projector screen is easy to put together and portable. Pair it with a projector, speakers, comfy seating and plenty of popcorn. If you’re seeking a more DIY option, The Family Handyman has plenty of tips for creating a backyard movie theater.

Instant boho vibes ahead: simply string a fringed hammock in the backyard, like this one from Target. If your space allows, tie it to between two trees for a true nature vibe—or order a simple stand.

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly, water-conserving option for your backyard or simply prefer as little maintenance as possible, consider xeriscaping. Xeriscaping is a method rather than an aesthetic; it involves choosing drought-tolerant plants and materials, limiting the use of turf, and emphasizing native grasses as well as gravel, mulch and other materials that conserve water. This method has a special place in our hearts since it originated in Denver, where Havenly’s headquarters are located!

Photo via loveyourlandscape.org

As the summer solstice nears, you’re likely to be spending more and more time outdoors—these backyard renovation ideas will make sure you enjoy every minute of it, while boosting your health, mood and wellbeing.

Words by Sara Watson