37 Backyard Ideas on a Budget

ohsokel outdoor movie night

@ohsokel / Instagram

Your backyard is a work in progress that can benefit from the smallest of upgrades to make it more beautiful and usable. Whether you want to add some plants, light up your garden with twinkle lights, or tackle a DIY project like building a simple fire pit conversation area or painting the back patio, you don’t have to splash out to make your backyard feel like the luxury that it is. Check out these stylish and affordable backyard ideas on a budget that will help you spruce up your outdoor space without breaking the bank. 

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    A Garden Mural

    A cactus mural in an outdoor dining area

    saratoufali / Instagram

    If you have a natural talent for drawing, a mural on a plain outdoor wall can really bring your outdoor space together. This cactus painting brightens up this outdoor dining space while adding Southwestern-style flair. Plus, it's an Instagram-worthy spot to post pictures of yourself enjoying your backyard.

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    Stock Tank Pool

    A white stock tank pool in a farmhouse-style backyard.

    the_little_homesteader / Instagram

    Not only is a traditional pool pricey, but it requires a lot of maintenance. A great alternative is a stock tank pool. Here, the_little_homesteader painted an eight-foot round galvanized stock tank with exterior white paint to match her home's aesthetic, and added a filter, pump and chlorine.

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    Outdoor Bar Cart

    A DIY outdoor bar cart made from wire shelving.

    home_on_the_bluff / Instagram

    For your next outdoor party, put your favorite concoctions on a wire shelf with wheels. It's compact, budget-friendly and you can stock and dress it up to fit your personal aesthetic.

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    Hanging Flower Pots

    finding lovely hanging plants

    Finding Lovely

    If you love a backyard with plenty of color and lush plants, look to every corner you can to grow flowers including your porch ceiling or your fence. If you don't want to install any hardware or make any holes in the wall or ceiling, you can easily hang pots of colorful flowers to a fence using S hooks to add that extra pop of color.

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    Bird Bath Fairy Garden

    A fairy garden in a large bird bath.

    Ryan Overman/Getty Images

    Both kids and adults will enjoy this summer activity. If you have an old bird bath or large planter, create a fairy garden with your kids filled with soil, moss, yard clippings, and trinkets from around the house. Your kids will love using their creative skills to make a place for all the little fairies.

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    Cinder Block Firepit

    Lady Landscape outdoor firepit

    Lady Landscape / Instagram

    A firepit is a backyard must (especially if you live in an area with a cooler climate), but they can be pricey. You can still gather around a nice firepit by making your own at a much lower cost. To do this, surround a metal firepit bowl with cinder blocks or pavers in a staggered pattern to mimic the look of a nice stone firepit.

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    Colorful Seasonal Pillows

    Modern House Vibes

    Modern House Vibes / Instagram

    You'd be surprised at how much pops of color can change the entire look of your backyard. Brighten up your outdoor furniture seasonally with bright pillows for spring and summer and more earth-toned pillows for fall and winter.

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    Garden Potting Station

    allie wilson home garden center

    Allie Wilson Home / Instagram

    If one of your favorite pastimes is gardening, designating a potting station will help you garden more efficiently and can even save you from back pains. Use an old table or scraps of plywood to create a space to hold pots, planters, soil and gardening tools and make sure the surface is about waist high to make it easier on your body when you're gardening. Or take a page out of Allie Wilson's book and upcycle a pallet into a slim vertical garden center. No storage is no problem—hang your supplies on the wall.

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    A Relaxing Hammock Nook

    Julian Porcino privacy fence

    Home Consultant

    You don't have to go far to enjoy a quiet sanctuary; you can create your own little getaway right in your backyard. Set up a hammock, and add pillows, string lighting in trees, blankets and even a plate (or basket) of food for when you get hungry to create a place you can quickly sneak away to enjoy some quiet time.

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    Hanging Mason Jar Illuminaries

    lady landscape mason jars

    Lady Landscape / Instagram

    To create ambience in our backyard for quiet summer nights, completely fill Mason jars or other glass jars with LED battery-operated string lighting and hang from trees using rope and hooks. They're reminiscent of fireflies, and you can even keep them up year-round as winter decor against a snowy backdrop.

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    Upcycled Strawberry Planter

    Strawberries growing in an upcycled blue barrel.

    Iryna Veklich/Getty Images

    Strawberries are a favorite crop to grow during summer months. If you have a large barrel or container, it's the perfect place for your strawberries to thrive. We love this bright blue one that instantly brightens up the yard. To make the pockets for the strawberries to grow, follow this video tutorial from Tim Burrows.

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    Backyard Movie Night

    ohsokel outdoor movie night

    @ohsokel / Instagram

    Bring movie night home by hanging a large white sheet using rope or zip ties in your backyard. Lay down some blankets and pillows and use a projector (you can get a budget-friendly one that connects to your phone) to watch your favorite movie with friends or family. Take inspiration from Kel Harmer of OhSoKel and take your movie night up a notch with twinkle lights, snacks, candles, and a few glasses of vino—beautiful living at its best.

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    Painted Ceiling and Flooring

    A swing chair hanging in the corner of an outdoor room.

    Dwell Aware / Instagram

    Paint can go a long way in a backyard, and it's one of the most budget-friendly and easiest ways to update a backyard. Paint your patio flooring and ceiling in bold colors to add some visual appeal. We love this outdoor room by Dwell Aware where the ceiling and flooring are painted in contrasting colors.

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    Upcycled Bottle Planters

    Glass bottles filled with blooms hanging from a wood fence

    nedjelly/Getty Images

    Next time you're enjoying a cold beverage, don't toss the bottle in the recycling bin. Instead, you can fill them with blooms from your yard and hang them using rope or twine all the way across your fence or even hanging from a pergola.

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    Symmetrical Mirrors

    An outdoor room with two matching hanging mirrors.

    Allie Wilson Home / Instagram

    Bring the outdoors in by creating a living space in your backyard. Add a coffee table, comfortable furniture and even hang furnishings like mirrors to bring a welcoming feel. Simple furnishings like mirrors and candles will make your outdoor space feel like an extension of your home like Allie Wilson Home did here.

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    Budget-Friendly Al Fresco Dining

    A gravel backyard with a picnic table set up for al fresco dining.

    southernsudsandsimpleliving / Instagram

    Buying an entire patio set can be really expensive. Instead, you can dress up a budget-friendly picnic table for your next gathering outdoors. Here, southernsudsandsimpleliving dressed up a picnic table with patterned outdoor seat cushions, outdoor-friendly dinnerware and bistro lights hanging from DIY posts set in cement. Lay gravel and add outdoor rugs for a low-maintenance and low-budget patio alternative.

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    Vertical Lattice Garden

    A patio with a dining table, chairs and a lattice filled with potted plants and decor.

    My Bohemian Nest / Instagram

    No backyard, no problem. You can still grow and display plants even if you have a small yard or patio. This lattice wall by My Bohemian Nest is the perfect place to hang potted plants and other decor.

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    Wheelbarrow Planter

    wheel barrow planter

    @plant_ing_joys / Instagram

    For a lush garden, you'll want to add as many flowers and plants as possible to your backyard. Look to your garden for items where you can add more plants to your space. For example, you can fill up an old, unused wheelbarrow with your favorite blooms or succulents. Bonus: you can move it around the yard to the corner you feel needs dressing up the most.

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    Cozy Curtains

    An outdoor room with sheer curtains, hanging pendant lighting and a sectional.

    Kirsten Diane / Instagram

    It's always nice to have some privacy when you're enjoying the outdoors with a book and a cocktail, but depending on where you live, it might be difficult to get that privacy. If you have a pergola or gazebo, hang curtains (you can even use drop cloths for a more budget-friendly option) so you can enjoy some peace and quiet like Kirsten Diane did here.

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    A Lush Vertical Garden

    A metal screen with various hanging potted plants.

    dmf87 / Getty Images

    An old screen or wired fence section also works perfectly for a vertical garden if your yard is too small for a traditional one. Use hooks to hang a variety of potted plants. This is a great idea for herbs and other edible plants, so you don't have to constantly bend down to clip what you need for dinner.

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    A Napping Nook

    A napping nook in a yard with a wood pallet bed and bedding.

    S.U.S.A.P. / Instagram

    If you spend almost all your time in your backyard, it's time to elevate your relaxation experience by creating a napping nook. Use a pallet of wood and add an old futon cushion and bedding for the ultimate place to take a snooze like s.u.s.a.p. did here.

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    A Charming Garden Shed

    garden shed

    Ursula Carmona of Home Made by Carmona

    Your garden shed doesn't have to be an eyesore. It could even be a feature! All you need to spruce it up is some shutters if it has windows, a fresh coat of paint on the door, and window boxes filled with colorful flowers or some twinkle lights.

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    Backyard Sleepover

    An outdoor teepee with blankets, pillows and a fruit bowl.

    @S.U.S.A.P. / Instagram

    Enjoy your backyard overnight even if you don't own a tent. Use sturdy branches or even a tripod and tie a large sheet to the top and supports to create a teepee. Then, add some pillows, blankets, and candles to enjoy a solo or romantic night in your very own backyard.

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    Build a DIY Fire Pit Bench

    backyard ideas on a budget fire pit

    A Beautiful Mess

    This DIY curved fire pit bench from A Beautiful Mess cost $125 in materials and took two days to put together, an affordable backyard upgrade for those with woodworking skills. 

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    Ambient Lighting

    Herzen Stimme lighting

    Herzen Stimme / Instagram

    Lighting can really set the mood, and it's a budget-friendly way to change the look and feel of a room. Instead of hanging bistro lights across a pergola, hang them down like teardrops for a more whimsical feel. If you don't have anything to hang them from, go for candles and short strands of twinkle lights draped around your seating area.

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    Contrasting Rock Garden

    A rock garden with contrasting colors and succulents.

    Chakarin Wattanamungkol / Getty Images

    You don't necessarily need a green thumb or live in a good climate to have a garden in your backyard. You can create a beautiful, lush look with a rock garden. Use rocks in contrasting colors to create a visually-appealing design, and add a variety of succulents and planters.

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    A S'mores Station

    suncadia smores station

    @suncadia / Instagram

    If you're throwing a summer night party, a s'mores station around the fire pit is a great way for everyone to have a good time. Fix a plate for every guest filled with everything you need for a s'more: Graham crackers, chocolate candy and of course, marshmallows.

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    Upcycled Tea Cup Bird Feeder

    @kastlesvintage teacup feeder

    @kastlesvintage / Instagram

    If bird watching is one of your favorite activities, you can put out an inexpensive bird feeder by making one out of an old tea cup and saucer, like the one Kastles Vintage made here.

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    Outdoor Rug

    A spring inspired outdoor living room with an umbrella, love seat and rug.

    kirsten.diane / Instagram

    If your patio is just a concrete slab, you can easily dress it up with the right furnishings like a colorful or patterned outdoor rug. You can find many outdoor rugs for a great deal on online stores, or you can thrift one from a secondhand store. We love the way this outdoor rug on this patio by Kirsten Diane pulls the entire space together.

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    Upgrade Folding Tables With DIY Wood Toppers

    backyard ideas on a budget

    My 100 Year Old Home

    My 100 Year Old Home created a cozy outdoor dining area in a farmhouse backyard that includes affordable DIY elements like wood toppers for inexpensive folding tables and industrial hanging cage lights painted rose gold.

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    Outdoor Kitchen Island

    A DIY outdoor kitchen table with shelving and storage buckets.

    home_on_the_bluff / Instagram

    Your outdoor kitchen prep area could always use more storage. Add a pallet of wood, paint it and add magnetic strips to hold knives and towel rods to hold other essential items like Home on the Bluff did here.

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    Transform an Eyesore

    backyard ideas on a budget concrete

    Most Lovely Things

    Most Lovely Things transformed an eyesore in the backyard—a random patch of cement where the previous owner's had installed a jacuzzi—into a cozy outdoor entertaining space by painting the cement in a simple gray and white checkerboard pattern and outfitting it with seating.

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    Dark Privacy Walls

    An outdoor room with black privacy walls, wood furniture and a hammock

    ann.living / Instagram

    When you think of a backyard design, you may initially think of bright, summery colors, but if you're more into neutrals, try darker, moodier colors for your outdoor space. If you have a privacy wall or fence, paint it in black and decorate with neutral furnishings for a polished more refined look like Ann Living's outdoor space here.

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    Wood Pallet Furniture

    An outdoor living room with wood pallet furniture and a woven pendant light

    afrobohemianliving / Instagram

    Outdoor furniture is expensive, but with a little DIY work, you can have a place to sit and relax in your backyard. You can attach pallets of wood together and paint it in your favorite color and add some cushions to create a sectional, chairs or even a coffee table. We love this wood pallet furniture in Afro Bohemian Living's outdoor space.

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    Make It Kid-Friendly

    backyard ideas on a budget

    A Beautiful Mess

    This DIY hexagonal sandbox from A Beautiful Mess creates a shady spot at the base of a mature backyard tree that will delight the kids.

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    Outdoor Rug by the Pool

    A Bohemian style pool area with a large umbrella, rugs and lounge chairs.

    jcdesign1.1 / Instagram

    Normally you'd find an outdoor rug on a patio or outdoor room, but we love this look of the rug right next to the pool by jcdesign1.1. It adds a boho vibe and creates a relaxing space right by your favorite backyard feature. Plus, then you don't have to burn your feet on the hot pavement.

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    Repurposed Backyard Oasis

    A DIY backyard tent made from white sheets and faux flowers.

    denadanielle_designs / Instagram

    Whether you want to create a backyard oasis for a special occasion or for everyday enjoyment, you can look around the house for items to make the perfect, relaxing nook. Here, denadanielle_designs used items from her house to create a backyard oasis. She used safety pins to attach sheets to a hula hoop, and used twine to hang it from a tree. She then added added a faux flower garland to the hula hoop and an old chandelier for a whimsical look.

What is the most affordable way to do a backyard? 

The most affordable way to landscape and decorate your backyard is to work with what you have. Keep grass mowed and watered, tend to your existing garden, and spend on your priorities, whether that means a backyard fire pit conversation area, an affordable dining set for outdoor meals, or a DIY playhouse for the kids.

How can I make my backyard beautiful on a low budget? 

Keep it simple. The beauty and luxury of a backyard is having outdoor space that is yours alone. Devote time to maintaining your existing landscaping, mowing the lawn, pruning the hedges, and sweeping up leaves. Install inexpensive raised garden beds planted with herbs, vegetables, or flowers. And don’t forget the power of inexpensive outdoor LED string lights that can turn any backyard into a magical setting after dark.

What is the least expensive type of landscaping?

Large green lawns are expensive to maintain and water, with both financial and environmental costs. Look for grass alternatives such as mulch or a more sustainable low-maintenance option like gravel and succulents that will give your landscape a modern look.