What can you do with $280 (CDN), a weekend and a bit of elbow grease?  

How about a COMPLETE backyard makeover?!

I love dramatic before and after projects – HGTV has made millions on people like me eating up every program (the beginnings and endings anyways) of incredible transformations done on a budget, as a DIY, and with ingenious tips and tricks to help you do it at home.

That’s why, when my friend moved into his new place, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on his backyard!  (yes I know, I know – left myself wide open with that one lol)

It’s a total shit-show!!

(Sorry Mom, there’s no sugar-coating this)

He took possession in the dead of winter, so it wasn’t until this past month that the harsh reality of this weed-filled, neglected and barren backyard was visible.

Before photo of backyard makeover

The patio wasn’t big enough to hold even a small patio table, and with it being a small yard with no place to store a lawnmower – seeding didn’t quite fit the bill.

Before photo of backyard makeover

It’s terrible right?

No one would ever go back into this yard to sit and relax – it was dirty and chaotic and an embarrassment….

Before photo of backyard makeover

which made it the PERFECT backyard for dramatic results!

Hey, I’ve been blogging long enough to know a diamond in the rough!

We had a couple of issues we needed to keep in mind when making over this space;

  1. The unit is a rental, so investing a lot of money into a property that he might not stay at long-term seemed wasteful
  2. There is no water spout.  Seriously… no place at all to hook up a hose (or pressure washer – which would have made a monstrous difference all by itself.)

There were a few items on my wishlist for this space…

  1.  Room for some kind of patio seating so that he and his daughter could use the backyard for what it was meant for; an outdoor room to enjoy
  2. Low maintenance, since mowing and watering were extremely limited, we needed to come up with a plan that didn’t involve much of either.
  3. Storage – with yards and kids come tools and bikes and toys and …. you know.  It all accumulates and this small space needed to have some way to corral everything in a tidy (aka non-eyesore) way

After searching for matching pavers to the ones that were already here and coming up short, we decided to expand the patio by pulling out every second paver and filling the empty space with pea gravel.

Removing pavers and inserting pea gravel

We left one row along the back of the house so as not to incur extra water running into the foundation, and along the side of the existing garden because of some drainage issues along the bottom of the retaining wall.

To keep this backyard makeover on a budget, we used limestone to level the moved pavers and create a base for the pea gravel, and then filled the empty spaces with the gravel.

removing pavers and using pea gravel

This small and inexpensive trick almost doubled the size of the patio and gave more than enough room for a patio set and barbecue.

The pavers themselves had seen better days and I got it into my head that the last tenant must have had a dog for all of the staining and grossness on the stones.  I had some concrete cleaner in my garage, so I added ‘scrubbing pavers’ to my list of “must do’s” for this backyard makeover.

I’ll be completely honest with you; a pressure washer would have done a much better job, but even water and a scrub brush would have given excellent results – the concrete cleaner itself really didn’t offer gleaming results – so I’d say save your money on that one.

scrubbing concrete pavers

We picked up 20′ of garden edging and spiked it onto place around the edge of the patio to keep the pea gravel in and the mulch out.

weeding the backyard

Chris went to town turning the soil to loosen all of the weeds so we could pick them out easily… and there were a LOT.

Right about here we made our first real mistake…

We should have lined the soil areas with landscaping fabric BEFORE laying down the mulch.  It’s been a couple of weeks since we did this weekend backyard makeover, and a few of the weeds have managed to battle through the 3″ of mulch we put down.  Nothing a little weekly maintenance can’t cover, but it would have been nice to make the yard work-free.

SO!  Speaking (writing) about mulch…  did you know that some cities will deliver truckloads of mulch to you for free?  It’s not cedar or tinted in any fancy colour – it’s the chipped-up wood from all of the local pruning at parks etc.  In our case, the condominium committee actually provided free mulch for all of the residents living there.

Backyard makeover, backyard makeover on a budget, backyard makeover in a weekend

Pretty dramatic transformation already eh?!

This is still Day 1 of the weekend backyard makeover and so far we’ve (almost) doubled the size of the patio, whitened the pavers, weeded, added edging, and mulched the planting beds.

Backyard makeover, backyard makeover on a budget, backyard makeover in a weekend

 

The heavy lifting of this weekend backyard makeover was done, but the space still didn’t serve it’s purpose.  Sure, it looked better, but there was still no place to relax and enjoy the fruits of our labour…

… now remember, not only was this backyard makeover done in a weekend – but it was also done on a pretty tight budget as well…

I found this patio table on Kijiji for $30.

Seriously!  It was in decent shape, no rust or scratches on the glass BUT the colour had bleached out in the sun.

patio table makeover

The chances of me finding matching chairs in this same sun-bleached colour were slim, which was fine because I wanted the set to look new again anyways.

I washed everything down with some TSP, then rinsed and dried it so I had a perfectly clean surface.

patio table makeover

All I needed was a little Rust-Oleum in a black satin finish to take the patio table from dreary and dated to crisp and new!

patio table makeover

Did I mention $30?

For a patio table that comfortably seats 4?

Yes, you won’t find that steal anywhere online!

I should say “deal”, because it actually would be cheaper to steal a table – but I don’t encourage that. lol

patio table makeover

The rest of the backyard makeover on a budget was just aesthetics…

I found an inexpensive circular rug at Home Depot, as well as some simple but bright patio chairs.

Backyard makeover, backyard makeover on a budget, backyard makeover in a weekend

We did a little bit of planting in the garden areas:

impatiens for the shaded garden box (that we had to do a small repair to),

impatiens in shade

and some sun-loving petunias and amaranthus which will give the garden a bit of height.

Backyard makeover, backyard makeover on a budget, backyard makeover in a weekend

Yes, I know – that begonia is NOT going to survive in full sun…  I’ll move it.

For the shaded area by the patio door, we brought in “Bernie the Fernie” and added some eyes for personality.

Backyard makeover, backyard makeover on a budget, backyard makeover in a weekend

The planters are hand-me-downs, but they work well with the black patio furniture.

begonia

The rabbits were dollar store finds that I spray painted with Rust-Oleum cement-look spray paint in this post last year.

Backyard makeover, backyard makeover on a budget, backyard makeover in a weekend

Backyard makeover, backyard makeover on a budget, backyard makeover in a weekend

Chris might have a small obsession with barbecues…

Backyard makeover, backyard makeover on a budget, backyard makeover in a weekend

one of which will be getting a makeover as well in the near future.

Backyard makeover, backyard makeover on a budget, backyard makeover in a weekend

Backyard makeover, backyard makeover on a budget, backyard makeover in a weekend

What is a backyard makeover/backyard makeover on a budget/backyard makeover in a weekend without the before-and-after comparisons?!

Backyard makeover, backyard makeover on a budget, backyard makeover in a weekend

 

Backyard makeover, backyard makeover on a budget, backyard makeover in a weekend

 

Backyard makeover, backyard makeover on a budget, backyard makeover in a weekend

I know you are waiting for the “budget” part of this makeover aren’t you?

Here goes:

  • Limestone  6 bags x $3.99
  • Pea gravel  12 bags x $5.99
  • Mulch   $0
  • Garden edging  $12
  • Concrete cleaner  $0
  • Patio table  $30
  • Patio rug  $39
  • Patio chairs. (birthday gift – but you can find them for ~$20 ea)
  • Planters  $0
  • Plants  $45

Budget Backyard Makeover:  $282

 

Backyard makeover, backyard makeover on a budget, backyard makeover in a weekend

 

Backyard makeover, backyard makeover on a budget, backyard makeover in a weekend

I still hope to build a bike shed to tuck tools and toys away, and I believe Chris is going to attempt a barbecue makeover as well, so this isn’t the last time you’ll be seeing this yard….

even if it’s just of me and a margarita.

Have a great one!