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When you consider the cost of professional design, materials and plants, construction, furniture, and decoration, contemporary backyard design, with its focus on outdoor living space, can get very expensive. Maybe you don’t have, or don’t care to spend, thousands of dollars on a team of landscape designers and decorators—and that’s ok.
Take heart, though, because there are several ways that you can incrementally upgrade the style and livability of your backyard without having to spend three months’ salary in the process. There are inexpensive landscaping tricks, backyard furniture hacks, and other cheap ways to create those backyard “rooms” that everyone seems to be talking about these days—all without breaking the bank.
Here is a quick list of ways you can give your outdoor living space a makeover without spending a small fortune.
If you’re tired of mowing, edging, weeding, and fertilizing your lawn, then consider replacing it. For the cost of some lumber (reclaimed lumber may be available in your area for much less than the cost of new wood), fill dirt (check Craigslist for free you-haul opportunities), and a couple of yards of pea gravel, you can easily install raised beds for perennials and annuals and construct a meandering path that rivals the look of any classic French or English garden.
Other potential ground cover ideas include reclaimed brick or stone as well as perennial ground coverings such as creeping thyme or blue star creeper.
If you have a deck or patio in place, chances are that you already have a dining and cooking area complete with a table and chairs set up near your barbecue grill. If you don’t, then consider installing a pea gravel or reclaimed brick patio as a foundation. Then you can purchase outdoor furniture at a garage sale, thrift store, or during off-season through a home improvement or department store.
Upgrading from the basics only requires some decorative elements—cushions for the chairs, a side table for the grill, some weather resistant decorative art, or potted plants. There are plenty of online design resources available to get your creative juices flowing.
If there is one area that backyard design fans are buzzing about these days, it’s the outdoor living space, better known as the backyard living room. This is a special area that’s separate from the dining and cooking space and often includes an anchored patio, outdoor art and furniture, potted plants, and a beautiful outdoor rug to bring it all together.
All of these elements are more or less essential to creating the outdoor living room effect, but they don’t need to be purchased all at once or for top dollar. You can slowly accumulate used chairs, tables and the like from garage sales or flea markets and then add your own DIY flair. Don’t forget about end of season sales—buying your furniture and decorative elements off-season can save you considerable money.
Lastly, if your yard is like many contemporary yards, it is rectangular in shape and likely came with a border that divides it from the house, as well as the fence. Upgrading a border or flowerbed in your backyard can be as simple as opting for a more sophisticated mulch, a nicer edging trim, or upgrading the plantings themselves.
The possibilities are nearly endless, only impeded by your imagination and what you are willing to spend and install. Visit your local nursery and home improvement stores for closeout deals and end of season specials. Your discounted investment this fall won’t look any less spectacular than a full-price planting next spring.
If you are patient and buy your materials, plants, furniture, and decorative elements when they are on clearance or at local garage sales or thrift stores, then there’s absolutely no reason why a full backyard makeover should break the bank. All of the backyard upgrades listed above are designed to be implemented incrementally, allowing for you to transition your outdoor living space over time and without spending a fortune. With the fall season approaching, now is a great time to look for deals. You may be able to save up to 75% on the cost of your backyard makeover!