7 Affordable Ways to Improve Your Backyard


If you feel like you need to escape the hectic life of your family, there is an oasis literally outside your back door – your backyard. The backyard is a part of our property that can provide a refuge from the mess of the interior of our homes, and it offers the option to commune with nature. Yet the backyard is the place most families spend the least time in. Whether sending their children outside to play to give mom some respite, provide the kids with a safe place to run around, or give the family a place to gather without messing up the interior, here are seven affordable ways to improve your backyard.

Clean It Up

For many people, playing in the backyard seems impossible because of the toys, half-completed projects and unkempt garden that clutter it. One of the cheapest solutions is cleaning it up. Remove the play equipment your children don’t use anymore so they have the space to run around. Require children to pick up their toys at the end of every play session, whether balls or water guns. Take down the hammock you don’t use so your family can better utilize the space. And, get rid of the pile of outdoor cooking equipment that is rarely used. Consider replacing all your dogs toys with an interacting puzzle toy, which is something they will actually use when you’re not there. When the space feels open and available, it will be used. Any unused furniture piling up in the corner or shed needs to go.

A Cool Retreat

One of the most affordable ways to improve your backyard is by setting up a cool oasis in your yard. It isn’t necessary to rip out the backyard to install a pool. One option is setting up a seasonal swimming pool for your children to play in, though they require as much supervision in one of these as they do an in-ground pool. Another option is a portable hot tub. Portable Tubs HQ looked at the portable hot tub options for families and reviewed a few inflatable ones large enough for multiple people but suitable to move onto the shaded patio or out into the sun based on weather conditions. It is far cheaper than the permanent hot tub that is unused half the year, whether it takes up valuable space in the sun room or shaded patio.

Make Garden Spaces Accessible

One affordable trick for making your yard more inviting is to put pavestones through your garden. This allows people to walk on them without damaging plants. You can save money by using broken and recycled pavers, or you can make it a family project by letting your children create pavers for use in the path. Take care to dig a modest hole to put the pavers in so that they are stable. If you like the look, put gravel around them for a low cost but durable garden path. A side benefit of gravel is how it lets the rain soak through, preventing puddles of water forming on one side of the garden that could threaten plants.

Add Planters

Planters are a good way to put in low maintenance plants that may not thrive in your soil. This has the side benefit of preventing them spreading where you don’t want them. And they are movable, since you can place them on the other side of the yard if the plants don’t get enough light or move them inside if the plants are not cold-tolerant. You could move some of your internal house plants outside to de-clutter the interior of your home or try to increase the production of your herb garden by putting the window planter outside. Remember that you can place planters on your deck or throughout a backyard converted to Astro turf or gravel beds in order to save water, making the area more appealing.

Plant Perennials

One reason why many people who want plants don’t plant a garden is the perceived maintenance. It just doesn’t seem worth the work. The solution is to plant hardy perennials like peonies or hydrangeas. They’ll bloom year after year and don’t require a lot, though you can learn how to care for hydrangea here. Keep in mind that there are different perennials that thrive in different climates, so you will want to find out which ones fare best in your location. There are even edible perennials you can plant once and harvest periodically such as wild leeks, ground nuts, asparagus, rhubarb, or herbs like French sorrel. You can also plant perennials in clusters around ornamental grasses to create a corner that is attractive year-round.

Use Unusual Materials in Your Yard

The ubiquitous steel sculpture is attention grabbing because it stands out against the grass and the wood deck. You can take advantage of the same concept to put steel sculptures in your yard, or you can take it a step further by using corrugated steel, wood scraps or artistic materials in your deck walls to shake things up. Another option is putting an espaliered tree on the deck wall, fence or wall of the house. Depending on where you live, running ivy, grape vines or blackberry bushes through the deck wall or fence creates an attractive and potentially useful living fence. Don’t forget the option of installing a trellis. They can act as decorative pieces at the back of the garden or a clear marker as to where the lawn ends and the garden begins. Trellises can be used to support growing roses, vines and other plants.

Cover Up the Concrete

One option for improving the look of your backyard is covering up the concrete. Putting in tile or masonry stone tile to cover it is one option, though a few adventurous souls paint it to look like stone. A masonry stain is sufficient to change plain gray concrete to a warm honey beige; this is far cheaper than ripping out concrete and building a new wooden deck.


First and foremost, clean up the clutter in the backyard so that the space is more attractive and usable. You could consider putting in a cool retreat like an inflatable hot tub or above ground pool. Make the garden easier to maintain by making use of perennials and install a garden path to simplify the upkeep. Planters let you bring greenery into corners where it otherwise might not be an option, and you can move them as necessary. Consider using unusual materials or low cost practical accent pieces to make your garden more attractive. Finally, you can cover up the concrete with glued on stone tile or masonry paint.

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