How to Get the Back Yard of Your Dreams Without Breaking the Bank
Is your dream to renovate your back yard into an oasis of peace, beauty, and tranquility? Easily said and done if you have an unlimited budget. That pool, outdoor kitchen, waterfall, and solid stone patio can all be yours. But then, what if you have other more important financial commitments? How can you keep your back yard dream alive without splashing the cash?
It’s never easy to commit to a renovation project when you know you have limited means. The key is to try not to think about working with a restricted budget as being a disadvantage. Instead, use it as an opportunity to be truly creative, and think of ways to get what you want without blowing the budget. Even if you can only commit to a scaled-down version of your ultimate dream back yard, you’ll be on the road to it. The bigger, flashier items can be added later when you’re able.
The Perfect Back Yard – on a Budget
Most homeowners who have a back yard do so because they enjoy spending time outdoors. Who would spend all that money on a house with a yard only to leave it overgrown and underloved? As with many other things in life, it’s easier to maintain a beautiful back yard if you have a ton of money to throw at it. What if you don’t? How do you make your outdoor space somewhere you want to spend time, if you don’t have money to spend?
For the majority of people, their back yard isn’t just a space for them, but a space for their friends and extended family, too. You want to be able to host gatherings, have cookouts, and relax in the sunshine even if an in-ground pool is nothing more than a pipe dream. The trick is to be smart about where you spend your money, and to start with ideas that could be easily scaled up if and when you can afford to do so. You could also start with your dream back yard and scale your ideas back to a more budget-friendly version. Be bold and let your imagination run wild!
Keep it clean
Not the most exciting of tips, but keeping your yard clean, swept, and free of debris and clutter can have a huge impact on how you spend time there. Who wants to spend time in a place that’s piled high with dead leaves, or broken toys, or bits of twig? Regularly getting out into your yard and pruning the plants, sweeping, and just generally tidying it up will make it more appealing, without you having to spend a single penny. All that fresh air will do you good, too!
Make sure you’re sitting comfortably
Even in smaller back yards, a comfortable and functional seating area is an absolute must. This is the area of your yard where you, your family, and guests can kick back and relax, or catch up over burgers and drinks. Even if you’re unable to do anything else with your outdoor space, the perfect furniture is the place to start.
Furniture also tends to be easy to situate, as a lot of suburban homes have some sort of built-in patio. This helps prevent furniture from sinking into lawns and damaging the grass, and you could also add alumawood patio covers to protect the furniture from inclement weather. Just be sure to keep cushions indoors when it starts raining!
Royal Covers does an excellent job for that. You can find them on Google maps below:
If you’re on a very tight budget and can’t afford to buy a matching set of brand-new furniture, think outside the box and hit up a thrift store for great mix-and-match pieces. You could also shop for furniture during fall and winter, when many outdoor items are on sale.
Let there be light
Outdoor lighting can really help to set the mood, but again, you don’t have to break the bank to get something that’s incredibly impactful. You just need to be smart about what you buy. Don’t get hung up on not being able to afford a fancy spotlight system – a simple string of white Christmas lights will suffice for a cozy, romantic atmosphere. You could use the same lighting for parties. Just switch out plain white lights for colored or twinkling versions, and you’re good to go.
However, that doesn’t mean you can just buy any old Christmas lights. You’ll need to make sure they’re safe to use outdoors, and that you’ve installed them securely.
If you don’t have a convenient spot in your yard to hang string lights, then solar lights are a cheap and eco-friendly alternative. These lights, which have posts that are driven into the lawn, are especially handy because they’re entirely wire-free.
Having a bunch of plants that require lots of water is a surefire way to drive up the cost of maintaining your back yard, especially if you live in a state with a warmer climate. You can keep costs down, and keep your garden looking green and beautiful year-round, by choosing succulents and perennials that require much less water to stay looking good. It’s also much better for environmental concerns if gardeners can reduce their water usage, especially in areas with hosepipe restrictions.
You can also save money and water by making your lawn smaller and planting more succulents or perennials or placing container plants around. While this may not be an option if you have children or pets that need lawn space to play, if it is, it can save you money in both the short and long term.
If you want to reduce the size of your lawn, but aren’t keen on using pesticides or other chemicals, you can kill the grass by simply placing sheets of newspaper over the area. The grass will die naturally and can be easily removed.
If you really can’t live without fancy back yard features such as a fountain, pool, extended patio with cover, all of that expensive stuff, there are ways to cut costs without compromising.
Any renovations or updates will cost less if you’re able to comfortably do the work yourself. Hiring contractors is a huge part of the expense. However, be honest with yourself before taking on any projects. If you don’t quite have the skills and end up getting it wrong, it could cost significantly more in the long run if repairs are needed.
If you’re really committed to a DIY yard, a little research into ideas and options that are easier for amateurs to execute will help you make a final call on what will and won’t be possible. You could even build your own water feature from a pump and some pretty stones!
You can also score easy wins by landscaping with cheaper plants, without sacrificing quality. If you’re planning on planting flowers, you may need to commit to spending a little more. As long as you’re willing to put in a little extra time and think outside of the box, you can pick up plants from pretty much anywhere – even online. Once you have them planted in the ground, you may need to give them a little extra love in the first instance, but once they’re established, you should be golden.
Another great way to fill space with minimal outlay and maintenance is to plant trees. Considering how tall they grow, and how relatively cheap they are to buy, trees offer great value for money and can make a huge difference to the overall feel of your garden. Just make sure not to get one that’s going to take over the entire space!
Add a little color
If your yard is surrounded by a fence or has a deck, you can completely change the overall atmosphere by simply adding a lick of paint. Choosing the right color can make a straightforward fence a stunning addition and a striking backdrop for your flowers, greenery, and garden furniture.
Think carefully about the overall vibe you want your yard to have, and which colors will best accentuate the amount of space you have. If your yard is small, for example, you may want to avoid darker colors that will only make it look smaller.
This is also an important consideration if your fence is particularly high, as high fences that are painted with dark colors can make a yard look gloomy. You can paint your containers and pots, too!
Feed the birds
You may not think of wildlife being a necessary addition to your yard, but listening to birds singing while drinking coffee outdoors in the early morning light sounds pretty good to us. In fact, listening to the bird’s song is proven to help us relax and destress. Installing a simple bird feeder, birdhouse, or birdbath (whatever your preference) will attract birds from your neighborhood. If you’re really short on cash, wash out a few old tin cans, making sure to file away any sharp edges, and fill with birdseed. They may not be as pretty as a store-bought feeder, but they’ll get the job done.