For those of us who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors, the exterior of our homes is just as important as the interior. And whether you recently moved in or have lived in your home for years, completing a backyard makeover can make you fall even deeper in love with where you live.

Now, the average homeowner spends almost $1,000 a year on landscape and outdoor space improvements. But you don’t need thousands to create the backyard of your dreams!

With a few helpful tips, you can make your backyard beautiful on a low budget. To learn everything you need to know about designing the perfect backyard without breaking the bank, just keep reading!

1. Set Your Budget

Setting your budget is the most important part of any home makeover process and should be done first. Take your time with this step, as it will be the basis for every other.

Having a budget and sticking to it will prevent you from accidentally overspending on your backyard projects. Remember that the entire idea here is backyard design at a low cost – don’t budget for more than you’re comfortable spending. 

Don’t worry, you’ll be surprised to find how much you can do with a small budget.

Once you have your overall budget, you’ll need to allocate it to the different spaces of your backyard. This is where the next step comes in.

2. Plan Your Spaces

Before you begin making purchases, planting, or arranging furniture, you need to plan your spaces. Your backyard should be a reflection of you and your interests. What do you plan to use your backyard for?

Will you need a dining area? An outdoor kitchen? A cozy reading nook? A children’s play area?

Knowing your plan and sticking to it will be extremely useful when designing your backyard. You’ll have a better idea of which items you need to purchase, which you can DIY, and which you already own and simply need to repurpose or rearrange.

Taking inspiration from friends and family, magazines, and websites during this process is a great idea. However, be careful not to allow yourself to get swept up in trends and neglect your own wants and needs.

3. Add a Garden

Nothing brings life to an outdoor space, both figuratively and literally, like a garden. Your garden will depend on your preferences and the size of your yard, but every backyard design needs at least a plant or two.

Plants will not only improve the air quality of your outdoor space but will also add personality and a pop of color.

When you’re working with a budget, it’s best to go with perennials rather than annuals when choosing your plants. They will become dormant in the winter months, but will regrow in the spring! This prevents the need for repurchase every year.

If you’re a beginner gardener, you’ll want to start with plants that are easy to care for. The last thing you want is to invest your money in flowers, herbs, and produce, only to have them all wither.

Some of the best perennials for beginners include:

  • Daylilies
  • Purple cornflowers
  • Peonies
  • Siberian iris
  • Bee balm

Be sure to do your research before making your purchase, especially if you have pets or young children, as certain plants are poisonous if ingested.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your garden! For example, if you’re working with a small space, why not build a vertical garden against the exterior wall of your home?

That said, there’s nothing wrong with keeping it traditional. A well-maintained garden bed lining your pathway or home exterior can be the perfect focal point for any backyard design.

4. Don’t Overlook Lighting

Lighting is an often overlooked yet crucial part of any design but is particularly important to include in your backyard ideas. After all, you’ll want to be able to spend time in your backyard on a warm summer night, or around a fire pit as the leaves begin to change in fall, without sitting in darkness.

There are a variety of options when it comes to outdoor lighting, but the most important ones to focus on are pathway lighting, uplighting, moonlighting, and wash lighting.

Your wash lights should provide a gentle light over your entire yard. These are usually floodlights mounted on your home or deck.

Pathway lighting is as it sounds. Small lanterns or spotlights are used to light any paths or walkways in your yard. Though this can be beautiful, it’s easy to go overboard and create a washed-out, cramped space. Less is more!

Moonlighting and uplighting are accent lights. They should both be used to draw attention to specific aspects of your yard. The difference is, moonlights are mounted in trees or other high objects and shine downward, while uplighting is achieved through mounting lights at the ground level.

With the right amount of lighting, you’ll achieve your desired aesthetic without overpowering the yard with bright lights.

5. Spruce up Your Fence

If you have a fenced-in backyard, take advantage of it! This is where you can let your creativity run wild, but we’ll give you a few ideas to get you started.

For a whimsical appearance, use a drill to create holes throughout the planks in a wooden fence. Then, fill the holes with multi-colored marbles using a rubber mallet! The rainbow colors will fill your yard when the sun is in the right position behind your fence.

If you have an artistic streak, design a mural along the side of the fence. It can be as large and as colorful as you want it to be, whatever suits your style.

For those with metal or plastic fences, drape string lights over the top. You can leave your fence blank, but a fence creates an excellent opportunity to design a focal point at little to no cost!

6. Add a Deck or Patio

Adding a deck or patio to your home might seem like a bit too much for a DIY backyard idea, but you can absolutely build one yourself! There are tons of tutorials available for free online, so all you’ll need to buy are the materials.

A concrete patio is an especially easy project, making it perfect for beginners. However, if you do decide to lay down a concrete patio, you should consider adding a cover as well to protect yourself and your family from harmful UV rays.

Luckily, Butte Fence has you covered, as they have compiled the ultimate guide to patio covers.

If you invest in anything, a deck or patio isn’t a bad choice. It will add appeal to your yard and increase the value of your home. Even if you don’t plan to put your home on the market anytime soon, investing in projects with a high ROI is always a good idea.

7. Get Creative with Seating

Regardless of your backyard plans, you and your loved ones will need somewhere to sit. Choosing outdoor seating may sound boring, but it can be a chance to add some fun to your outdoor space.

For example, you can hang a traditional porch swing or even a swing that doubles as a cozy daybed!

It’s also a relatively easy DIY project to build a bench around a large tree in your yard. All you need are a few wood pallets, a drill, and a saw and you’ll be well on your way to creating a gorgeous reading nook under the shade of your favorite tree.

If you’d rather stick with a classic table and chairs set up, mix it up! Don’t worry about your chairs perfectly matching the table or even each other. Explore thrift stores, yard sales, and online marketplaces to find inexpensive pieces to add to your design.

An eclectic mix of chairs around a table on your deck will add a touch of whimsy and cheer to your yard.

Use These Tips for the Ultimate Backyard Makeover

As you can see, a stunning backyard makeover doesn’t have to cost a fortune. With some planning and a bit of creativity, you can create the outdoor space of your dreams, even when working with the smallest of budgets.

Remember with any design project that the most important thing is to stick to your own style. Don’t worry about trends and the opinions of others, do what’s right you for you and your home!

If you’re in need of more home and yard design tips and tricks, be sure to take a look at our blog!