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Backyard Makeover Guide
During the pandemic lockdowns, we all realized how important our personal spaces are for enjoying time with family and friends, but you might have also realized that your outdoor living space needs some love. It takes more than a small concrete patio to create a dream backyard. If you enjoy fresh air, grilled food, and good company, a backyard makeover is worth considering.
Our Favorite Backyard Additions
Creating the perfect outdoor living area is all about combining functional space in a beautiful backyard. If done well, you can transform your outdoor space into the focal feature that makes your house feel like a dream home. We dive into all the areas you can consider with a backyard makeover, but if you are looking for simple additions that will have an outsized impact, these are the statement pieces we would consider.
If you add a few of these pieces, you will be off to a great start in making your outdoor space more functional, but you might have bigger ideas for your backyard project. Regardless of whether your yard is currently a blank slate or if you need some major improvements, there are plenty of ways to make your green space unique, beautiful, and useful.
Outdoor Kitchen Design Ideas
The kitchen is where most families spend their time together, so it makes sense to design this area as well. If you have children and want them involved in designing your new outdoor kitchen, they will love helping choose colors and materials. You may also like to include some fun features such as a water feature or other landscaping ideas. The best part about having an outdoor kitchen is that it provides more room for entertaining guests. This means less stress on the host!
If you have cash for kitchen appliances, be sure to check out our review comparing Weber vs Char Broil, which are the top-tier gas grill makers. When you see outdoor kitchens with built-in gas grills, chances are that those grills are either a Weber or a Char-Broil.
Still, our favorite kitchen appliance is an Ooni pizza oven, which can be used for a lot more than just pizza. If you get one of the larger 16-inch models, you can also fire cook everything from bread to steak. The Ooni pizza ovens are available as gas-fueled models, and also wood, charcoal, and wood-pellet-fueled models. Pair an Ooni pizza oven with a Breeo fire pit, and you are talking about a dream outdoor space.
Cottage Style Outdoor Kitchens
If you’re looking for something different than traditional kitchens, then cottage-style outdoor kitchens might just fit the bill. Cottages were originally built by farmers who needed extra storage areas outside of their homes. Today, many people still build cottages because they provide privacy from neighbors while being close enough to walk into town if desired. These types of designs tend to incorporate rustic elements including wood siding, stone accents, brick walls, etc. Some even add small decks or porches at the front of the home.
Modern Outdoor Kitchens
A modern outdoor kitchen has become increasingly popular over recent years. Many homeowners prefer these styles simply because they look clean and sleek. Modern outdoor kitchens often contain stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, glass backsplashes, high-end lighting fixtures, tile floors, and much more.
Start with a Healthy Lawn
If you want to create a green, healthy yard then it is important to have some type of grass growing on your property. You should also plant trees and shrubs around your home so they provide shade from direct sunlight during hot summer months. If you don’t already own any plants, there are many nurseries located throughout the United States where you can purchase them.
To maintain a healthy lawn, you most likely will need to start a fertilizer and watering regiment. We are big fans of DIY Lawn Care Subscriptions because they send you exactly what you need at the perfect time to apply it. But here is what you need to know: Not all subscription lawn care services are created equal. Old-school players, such as Scott’s lawn care products, still include synthetic fertilizers some research suggests could be harmful to your family or the environment.
Fortunately, several newer companies offer natural fertilizers that are sent directly to your front door as part of an easy subscription model. We like Sunday Lawn Care, because they were one of the original companies in this space and make a great product. When you get started with Sunday, you will send a soil sample to their testing facility so that they can plan the perfect fertilizer routine. Then they will send you liquid nutrient pouches, which you can apply by attaching the pouch and provided nozzle to your house. Very simple.
Another company called Lawnbright upped the game even further by introducing a natural pre-emergent weed control product, and natural insect repellents which you can apply to your lawn. Since then, Sunday has introduced similar products, as well as grass seed. There is healthy competition growing between the two brands, and we are here for it.
If your lawn is in bad condition, but you are interested in a backyard makeover, the first thing you need to do is take care of your yard. If your lawn is in bad enough shape, you might consider sod. Otherwise, we recommend that you consider Sunday Lawn Care or Lawnbright, and you will have healthy, green grass in no time.
Improve Your Livable Areas
What’s the point of a backyard remodel if you don’t create inviting spaces to enjoy with your family and friends? And you don’t have to go so far as installing complex Japanese gardens (unless you want to of course). A stone patio is a beautiful addition to any backyard and provides plenty of versatility too. Something as simple as a stone patio can serve as the gathering place that connects indoor living with outdoor living. But there is so much more you can do.
If you already have an acceptable patio, you can consider adding visual interest by added a custom pathway through your backyard garden. Sure, you could simply pour a concrete pathway, but you might also consider options such as pea gravel, paver bricks, and flagstone, all of which can be used to create compelling walkways. You can also consider lining your walkways and patio areas with string lights, which are beautiful and helpful as it gets dark.
Create A Space For Fun Yard Games
Setting aside a space focused on outdoor games can be a great way to entertain. Have you ever played a game of corn hole, bocce ball, or horseshoes? If not, you’re missing out. None of these games provide a serious set of athleticism, but I guarantee all three will bring out your competitiveness. Outdoor lawn games will keep your guests busy for hours on end.
And there is no shortage of options these days. You can find corn horn games outlined in LED lights so that the game is playable at night. And you can find human-sized Jenga towers, which would surely bring back fun childhood memories. If you are looking for something that requires a little more athleticism, keep Kan Jam nearby; or if you prefer something more traditional, you can keep a game of croquet set nearby. The options for fun lawn games are nearly limitless.
Add Some Landscaping To Your Yard
Adding landscaping to your yard can add beauty and value to your home. While most people just focus on planting flowers and other vegetation, it’s possible to design your landscape in order to attract wildlife. For example, if you live near wetlands, you may wish to install birdhouses and feeders so birds like bluebirds and robins can come to visit. Also, if you’re interested in attracting butterflies, you could try placing butterfly houses and nectar-producing plants around your yard.
Have you ever considered adding art pieces to your backyard? If that sounds crazy, research pieces such as Arteflame grills that serve both functional and artistic purposes. Arteflame makes statement-piece grills that are spun from Corten steel.
These European-styled grills develop a beautiful patina over time and are incredibly durable since they are made from architectural steel. You could reasonably expect an Arteflame grill or Breeo fire pit (also available in Corten steel) to last decades in your yard.
Install An Outdoor Fireplace
An outdoor fireplace provides warmth and ambiance while giving off heat as well. This makes this feature perfect for those cold winter nights. The best thing about having one installed into your backyard is that it will not only keep you warm but it will help reduce energy bills by keeping out cooler air. When installing an outdoor fireplace, think about what size would work best for your needs. There are different types of outdoor fireplaces available such as gas logs, wood-burning stoves, freestanding brick fire pits, etc.
Upgrade Your Outdoor Furniture
Once you built the perfect outdoor patio, it’s time to add some furniture. If you already have furniture, upgrading to new outdoor furnishings might be the quickest way to update the vibe in your outdoor space. Adding furniture can get expensive fast, but if you have the budget, it’s worth considering. But where do you start? There are so many options ranging from tables to chairs, benches, umbrellas, lounges, grills, and more.
We recommend that your start with Polywood furniture, which is made from recycled plastic materials. More specifically, Polywood furniture is made from durable recycled plastic derived from sources such as milk jugs, laundry detergent containers, and bottle caps. The result is outdoor furniture that is extremely weather-resistant, easy to clean, and available in vibrant colors.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider a set of Adirondack chairs and side tables. The chairs are comfortable to lounge in and work well in nearly any setting.
Add A Water Feature To Your Backyard
You might also think about adding a waterfall to your yard. Waterfalls add beauty and interest to any landscape. They create a soothing sound while providing a refreshing feeling during hot summer days. A good place to put one is near a window or door. It’s important to keep in mind that most homes aren’t designed to handle heavy rainfall.
Of course, if you are ready to get a little crazy, you could always install a koi pond in your backyard. Installing a koi pond is a little more difficult than collecting water in your yard. Mechanical filters, water and air pumps, drains, and skimmers need to be installed to promote the health and well-being of the koi. This isn’t a beginner DIY project by any stretch. Still, if you have the money and interests, koi ponds are one of the most interesting and luxurious water features you can add to your yard.
If you are not quite ready for crazy (and don’t worry, neither am I), adding a small garden fountain with running water, or even a small birdbath, is an easy and fun way to add variety to your backyard.
Consider Adding A Small Garden
A garden is a wonderful addition to almost every house. However, even though gardens are beautiful and beneficial, they require quite a bit of maintenance. Here are five ways to make sure your garden stays beautiful year-round:1) Watering - Garden watering is essential for maintaining a healthy garden. Plan ahead and water early enough in the day so that the soil has had ample time to dry before evening. Keep track of how much water you use with a rain gauge. Use mulch to retain moisture and prevent weeds from taking over. Mulching keeps roots cool and prevents evaporation of water.
Where Do You Start On a Backyard Remodel?
If all of this has you feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and remember your outdoor space is meant to be a source of joy. If you need to spend a week or two looking over Better Homes & Gardens magazines or flipping through Pinterest, by all means, do that. Otherwise, set a budget, prioritize what you want most, and get to work creating the backyard of your dreams.
Is Renovating A Backyard Worth It?
Renovations of any kind are usually not cheap. So before starting anything, ask yourself if renovating is worth it. If you have an old home that needs some work done in order to increase its value or sellability, then yes, renovate may be worthwhile. However, if you live in a newer house where there’s no need to improve its resale value, then maybe you should just stick to basic lawn care and landscaping instead.
With that said, you also have to consider what will position you to enjoy your house and yard the most. If you decide to finish a backyard makeover, prioritize where it makes the most sense to spend money, and figure out how what other items on your list you can do yourself. And while you might be daydreaming of backyard waterfalls, just remember the most important thing is to create a usable space.
How To Do The Work Yourself
If you’re going to DIY, start by doing research online about how to complete each project. You’ll find plenty of information from people who’ve already completed similar projects. Also check local building supply stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s, which carry materials needed for most jobs, but also offer free classes on how to complete common DIY classes.
And don’t forget to save money by buying supplies at discount prices. Look for discontinued products and overstock products that local hardware stores are selling at rock-bottom prices.
Get Help From Friends Or Family
You might also want to consider asking for help from friends or relatives. This could mean asking them to perform certain tasks such as pulling out old landscaping, painting fences or walls, installing new garden features, etc. When you are young, your friends and relatives might agree to help in return for pizza and a cold beverage. As you get older, you may have to rely more on their goodwill than free food to entice your friends, but if you add a pizza oven to your backyard, that might make the experience more experiential and memorable.
Another option is to hire someone through sites like Craigslist or Kijiji.com. These websites allow homeowners to post free ads looking for handymen, plumbers, electricians, painters, carpenters, roofing contractors, etc. Nowadays, you might be able to hire help for certain tasks on apps like TaskRabbit and Thumbtack. Often, handymen and specialists alike try to pick up odd jobs in their spare time utilizing one of these apps. One benefit to hiring individuals on these apps is that you may receive a more immediate response than you would from contacting someone on a website.
Use Free Materials First
Before getting started on a renovation project, always try using free items first. For example, look around your own yard to see what kinds of things you can use for your project without spending too much cash. As time goes along, you’ll probably accumulate more and more material resources until finally, you feel ready to begin shopping for the real stuff.
Well-manicured tree stumps make for pretty cool seating, after all. You Might also consider visiting your local Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity stores, which are open to the public, and frequently feature leftover building supplies sold for cheap. With a little luck, they might also have some previously loved patio furniture that you could give new life too. Realistically, though, if you could pick up some leftover building supplies, that would be a big win.Quick Tip: Don't visit a local Habitat for Humanity store, or even Lowe's or Home Depot, dead set on buying any certain item. If you keep an open and creative mind, you might be surprised what gems you can find.
Don’t Buy Too Much At Once
When planning a major remodeling job, it helps to keep track of all the costs involved so you know exactly when you need to break down and buy things. Start with a budget in mind, and manage your budget like a cunning hawk. For instance, you can blow a budget real fast by constantly buying too many supplies at once. Ending a job with a pile of extra supplies is pointless. The pile represents wasted money, and you will have to determine where to store or donate the extra supplies.
Prioritize Projects That Are Most Important To You
To effectively manage your budget, you also need to prioritize the projects that are most important to you. When I was growing up, I had a friend with a massive rock installation surrounding his backyard pool. There was a cave, a waterfall, and a rock slide. As a kid, it was incredibly cool, but now that I am the adult writing the checks, I also understand it was a little excessive for the average backyard. You don’t need a similar setup to create the perfect spot for family and friends.
Focus on a livable space where you can gather. Put down a pea gravel patio where you can roast marshmallows over a smokeless fire pit. Set aside a patch of grass where you can play bocce ball while enjoying your favorite beverage. Whatever it is that you envision yourself enjoying the most, devote resources to those areas before spending money on anything else.
Get To Work On Your Backyard Oasis
If you can dream it, you can make it, but it won’t happen unless you get started. We are certain that your backyard makeover will result in a picture-perfect setting, so send us some photos when you are done. Whether you are dreaming of a backyard perfect for entertaining guests, or a quiet space where you can feel serenity, we can’t wait to see what you come up with.
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