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Style on a Shoestring: 12 Transformative Backyard Ideas on a Budget

Is your budget holding you back from renovating your backyard? It’s an understandable roadblock that many experience, leading to backyards staying stagnant and outdated.

But transforming your backyard into something you love doesn’t always need to cost a fortune. Backyard ideas on a budget, like a few DIY projects with inexpensive materials, can easily upgrade your outdoor space.

Keep reading to learn about specific ideas to get you started on your backyard makeover!

A red and yellow wheelbarrow with colorful plants is just one idea for backyard ideas on a budget


1. Create Wheelbarrow Planters

Do you have an old wheelbarrow lying around? It can make a great planter if you’re not using it! You can use plastic or wooden ones, but steel typically holds up the best in severe weather. It’s a sturdy material that won’t warp. And most have a coating to protect them from rusting or corroding.

There are a few methods you can try out when using a wheelbarrow as a planter. You can leave it as is, fill it with soil, and plant your flowers and plants.

Or you can turn the wheelbarrow on its side with the soil pouring outwards and then plant your flowers. This second method creates the illusion that your wheelbarrow is dumping out flowers.

Whichever way you use your wheelbarrow, you’ll have a beautiful garden of color. This backyard idea on a budget will make the perfect addition to anyone’s yard!

2. Add Some Raised Perennial Beds

Raised garden beds are a beautiful idea if your backyard lacks foliage and color. You can make rectangular box beds out of wood from your local hardware store. Or you can buy raised garden beds.

When you decide which method you’ll use, raised beds are easy to fill. You’ll need to put a weed barrier in the bed, fill it with soil, and plant what you want.

This backyard idea on a budget will help you create designated planting areas and provide organization. It’ll also provide your beds with an attractive border, which jazzes up your yard a little more.

Planting perennials is the best option if you want an idea to keep your backyard beautiful for years. These plants and flowers come back each year, reducing your future gardening time. 

Russian sageShasta daisies, and hosta plants are excellent options.

3. Plant Mosquito-Repelling Plants

You can solve the lack of color and excessive mosquito invasions by planting mosquito-repelling plants! A backyard idea on a budget like this can instantly brighten your yard and serve a practical purpose besides beauty.

Many mosquito-repelling plants have strong scents that often deter mosquitoes from coming near them. So, you can expect less itchy bites by planting them in your flower beds or pots. A Citronella plant is one of the most popular options.

Citronella plant with purple flowers

Research suggests citronella may disrupt a mosquito’s sense of smell, ultimately pushing them away from your yard. Its extract is one of the highest natural repellents. Not only this, but this plant also produces gorgeous pink and purple flowers!

Other repelling options like French lavender and marigolds also produce vibrant flowers and scents that mosquitoes hate.

Useful Features

4. Build a Firepit

Have you always dreamed of an outdoor firepit? Well, this can be a backyard idea on a budget with the help of some pavers and a fire ring!

You can find a variety of paver options at your local hardware store. But you may want to opt for something like concrete or stone pavers, which are sturdy and can handle the heat. Try to get curved ones to make your circular design easier to put together.

To get started, you’ll want to outline your pit. Then you can start stacking your pavers around it, in which you’ll need at least two rows. From there, you can fill the bottom of the pit with a layer of dirt or small rocks. Place your fire ring inside your pavers and light your pit for some s’mores!

5. Get a Gazebo

Many people tend to go for patio umbrellas to keep them cool in the blazing sun. But they can blow around in the wind and may only cover a small area.

garden gazebo is an option that can replace umbrellas, which offers more shade coverage and additional relaxing space.

This backyard idea on a budget is perfect for patios, as it’ll allow you to sit outside in any weather. Gazebos are waterproof, and many also come equipped with netting walls. This means, you’ll be dry in downpours, cool in the sun, and bug-bite-free at nighttime.

Adding a gazebo to your backyard will also give it a resort-like feel and look without blowing your budget.

6. Set Up a Dining Area Equipped With a Bar

Dining outside is one of the perks of warm weather. But you can’t do that unless you have a place to sit and enjoy your meal!

You can easily fix this problem with an affordable outdoor dining set and an outdoor rug. It’ll feel like you brought your dining room outside!

Another great backyard idea on a budget to go along with this is a bar cabinet. You can repurpose something you already have for this, or grab a potting table. Stock it with your favorite drink ingredients, cups and straws, and maybe some little drink umbrellas for a tropical vibe.

There’s nothing like sipping on a cold drink in the summer heat. Try out this cherry vodka sour for the perfect summertime cocktail!

7. Create a Patio

If you don’t already have one, you can upgrade your backyard with a beautiful patio.

You don’t need to spend all your savings on expensive patio materials. Landscaping gravel and large pavers from your local hardware store can work just as well!

You can solely use gravel as your patio, or you can use both gravel and pavers in tandem. If you choose the second option, the gravel will act as filler between each paver. It’s a great backyard idea on a budget if you don’t have a deck.

8. Add Comfortable Seating Options

Rusted metal chairs or broken wooden chairs aren’t the most comfortable things to sit on. Not to mention the possibility of injuries. And old furniture or a bare backyard that’s missing furniture can be unwelcoming.

Cushioned chairs or outdoor sectionals can quickly make your backyard much more comfortable. They should also make your backyard look more inviting to guests, allowing them to feel welcome when they visit.

Having comfortable places to sit with a good book and cold drink will be a relaxing experience for you too. A backyard idea on a budget like this will encourage you to spend more time outdoors!

9. Make an Outdoor Movie Theater

Do you feel like your backyard is missing something? You may need some entertainment. And a portable movie theater is a fun option that everyone will love!

An outdoor movie theater in your backyard with pillows, blankets, and popcorn

An outdoor projector and screen can turn your backyard into one of the best movie-viewing experiences. They’ll allow you to enjoy the outdoors and watch your favorite TV shows and movies at the same time.

All you need to do is hang your screen, hook up your projector, and pick what you want to watch! It might also be fun to hang some string lights for added ambiance.

Use your new comfortable seating options or grab cozy blankets for this backyard idea on a budget. And don’t forget to get all your favorite movie snacks!

Decorative Aspects

10. Hang Some Mirrors

It may sound strange, but using mirrors outdoors can help make your backyard feel bigger than it is. This backyard idea on a budget is especially great for small backyards.

Window mirrors can create the illusion of more space. And hanging them in dark areas will help reflect light and brighten the area. Try putting mirrors on fences, the side of your house, and even on your shed.

You may want to waterproof the mirror if it isn’t an outdoor mirror. And to do this, you’ll need a flexible sealant. Spray this material all over the back of your mirror to prevent water from getting behind the glass. Once the sealant is dry, you can hang it up!

11. Make Use of Lighting

Creating a calming ambiance is a great way to transform the vibe of your backyard. And it’s easy to do this with the addition of lighting. 

String lights are a popular option that many people like. But you can also try hanging flameless lanterns or adding garden lights to your flower beds.

A simple backyard idea on a budget like this will give you just enough light to enjoy the nighttime outdoors. Try opting for warm white lights, as these provoke a more relaxing feeling when compared to cold white lights.

12. Incorporate a Water Fixture

Another backyard idea on a budget that can improve the vibe of your space is a waterfall fountain. It is beautiful, and the sound of flowing water can be very calming to the mind and body.

Backyard water fountain with water bubbling over the edges

A good place for something like this would be in your flower beds, garden, or on your patio. Water features can give your backyard a resort-like vibe, which makes it feel like you have a personal oasis. It’s simple yet influential in your mental state when enjoying time outside.

Try out These Backyard Ideas on a Budget!

Landscaping, new features, and simple decorations are excellent ways to bring you closer to the backyard of your dreams. And they’re all affordable, helping you stay within your budget.

Hopefully, these backyard ideas on a budget motivate you and help you kickstart your outdoor transformation!

Do you need more ideas to help spruce up your backyard? Look through our Backyard Living page to get some more inspiration!