24 Budget-Friendly Ideas for Backyards to Create an Outdoor Oasis

outdoor den seating area with firepit
Photo: David Tsay

Upgrading your backyard doesn't have to be costly or time-consuming. A few inexpensive projects and design tricks can turn your basic green space into the ultimate outdoor retreat. Try these backyard ideas on a budget, including DIY furniture and affordable landscaping tips, to create a yard you'll love (and never want to leave).

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Make DIY Planters

Two geometric planters near pool
Carson Downing

Container gardening adds interesting color and layers to your backyard, but large outdoor planters can be expensive. Save a little cash and create your own DIY geometric planters. These easy-to-make containers are made from corrugated plastic, so they cost just a few dollars to make.

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Cozy Backyard Ideas

Patio seating with white furniture and colorful pillows
Dana Gallagher

Make your backyard more inviting by piling on pillows to give wood and metal patio furniture a cozy touch. Choose durable outdoor fabrics in bright colors and eye-catching patterns for style that will last throughout the season. To make this backyard idea more budget-friendly, consider stitching together pillow covers from outdoor fabric to recover old pillows.

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DIY Backyard Fire Pit

DIY firepit in yard with adirondack chairs
Matt Clark

Enjoy warm summer nights spent around a backyard fire pit. To build your own, you'll need inexpensive materials including angled pavers and gravel for the base. This easy DIY outdoor project can be completed in a weekend, and your family can enjoy bonfires for years to come.

Editor's Tip: Check local regulations and/or your homeowner's association regarding fire pits before installing one in your backyard.

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Plant Inexpensive Perennials

rudbeckia perennials
Joshua McCullough

Perennials come back year after year, which means you'll save money on landscaping in the long run. Fill your backyard flower beds with colorful perennials and watch them bloom every spring. When planting, be sure to complete the proper prep work to keep perennials looking their best.

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Living Fence Idea

espaliered wall tree backyard patio black table
Bob Stefko

For a high-end look without the expense, try this budget-friendly backyard idea: Espalier a tree to create a living fence. The simple technique involves planting a tree and training it to grow in a pattern. The result is a custom look that adds visual interest and texture to a blank wall.

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Invest Smartly

outdoor den seating area with firepit
David Tsay

When looking for backyard ideas on a budget, identify one element to invest in to help you create a yard you'll love for years to come. Consider spending a little extra on a freestanding fire pit or one special piece of furniture you'll use regularly. Finish your backyard with more affordable accents, such as pillows and string lights, to complete your space.

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Backyard Furniture Ideas

refinished rustic patio furniture spray painted
Ann VanderWiel Wilde

Outdoor furniture, while made to withstand the elements, can take a beating over the years. Rather than splurge on new furniture, try a few DIY fixes to revive your existing pieces. This once-rusted patio table looks brand-new thanks to spray paint, new strapping, and a little cleanup.

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Small Backyard Ideas

corner bench with pillows, blue table, lounger patio area
Kim Cornelison

One of the best backyard ideas for small yards is also a budget-friendly choice. Employ furniture pieces that work in two different ways. A two-in-one piece, like this bench with a lounger, maximizes space and can be more cost-effective than buying multiple seating options. Alternatively, select backyard furniture with built-in storage to provide additional seating while hiding away accessories that are used infrequently.

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Backyard Patio Ideas

Try these backyard patio ideas on a budget to bring style and comfort to your space. Consider defining your outdoor living room with a retaining wall, or incorporate an outdoor kitchen for a patio that's prepped for entertaining. These easy backyard ideas will take your patio from basic to beautiful.

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DIY Outdoor Seating

diy patio bench with throw pillows gravel ground cover
Edmund Barr

Furniture can be an expensive investment for backyards, but you have options for affordable backyard patio ideas that still look modern and trendy. To furnish your backyard for less, rely on DIY outdoor furniture, such as benches, chairs, and tables. One of our favorite budget backyard ideas uses low-cost concrete blocks, dry-stacked and covered with a foam pad. The DIY bench offers lots of seating in a high-traffic spot outside the home's back door.

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Backyard Lighting Ideas

patio table white chairs stinglights
Ray Kachatorian

Outdoor lights remain a perennial favorite for porches and patios with good reason: They're celebratory and fun, with a warm glow that keeps the light from being distracting. For creative backyard ideas starring string lights, use them to wrap a tree or drape them down a table for a twinkling centerpiece.

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Vintage or Handmade Backyard Decor

Shingle siding and white accents on porch with table setting
Edward Gohlich

Utilize fabric and vintage finds for backyard makeover ideas on a budget. Sweeping fabric curtains—made from yardage, sheets, or other suitable material—add elegance and beauty. Plus, they can shield family and friends from intense rays at key times of the day. In place of a more expensive light fixture, repurpose vintage elements into decorative backyard focal points. Here, nonworking chandeliers are outfitted with candles and trailing vines.

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DIY Backyard Accents

leaf stepping stones garden path
Peter Krumhardt

For a fresh backyard idea on a budget, make your own accents. Enhance your backyard space by casting your own stepping stones using quick-mix concrete. This leaf-inspired stepping stone set is one of many backyard ideas that work particularly well in a cottage- or country-inspired garden.

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Display a Collection

miniature plant containers wall collection patio
Kritsada Panichgul

Collections are often thought of as high-end or expensive, but a simple gathering of plants in miniature containers can be a great focal point for a backyard. A plain outdoor shelf provides a display area for a low-cost stockpile of succulents and cactus plants. This easy backyard idea adds a fun pop of color to the outdoor area.

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Backyard Hardscaping Ideas

backyard patio remnant stone stairs
Matthew Benson

One of the most expensive elements in any landscape is hardscaping, including walkways, retaining walls, and edging. But the stone leftovers at your local landscaping, big box, or nursery supply store may be a less expensive option, especially if you're looking for small backyard landscaping ideas and don't have much square footage to cover. Placed together in a dry stack, the stones offer a pretty backyard element that looks as if it's a natural, always-been-there part of the yard. Choose low-growing groundcovers to soften the edges with charming blooms. Bonus: Those perennials can easily be divided to plant elsewhere and help you save even more.

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Use Off-the-Shelf Materials

two metal bar chairs at corner table yellow water can below
Matthew Benson

Custom elements quickly increase a budget for backyard landscaping, but creative recasting can get you the same function at a much lower cost. Ordinary blocks elevate lengths of decking to create an easy outdoor bar. The same materials in a different configuration can also be used to create an outdoor dining table, coffee table, or side table.

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Vertical Gardening Tips

vertical gardens wall hanging wood boxes
Kritsada Panichgul

For an easy and affordable backyard idea, outfit urban spaces or blank walls with vertical gardens. This simple, budget-friendly garden project can be used for growing pretty succulents or even low-growing vegetables. Here, simple boxes made with found wood hang from hooks to serve as a focal point in a backyard.

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Choose a Simple Plant Palette

red house exterior backyard patio plant palette
Laurie Black

For simple backyard landscaping ideas, rely on a tightly curated selection of plants. Choose a few favorite varieties and get creative with how and where you plant them. To expand your garden, consider dividing plants to cover more ground with growing material.

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Choose an Inexpensive Paving Material

backyard patio furniture gravel ground cover
Edward Gohlich

If you're looking for cheap backyard ideas with no grass, check out all your options for hardscaping, including less expensive crushed rock and gravel. Gravel provides a more casual surface underfoot for outdoor seating nooks and dining areas. If you do use traditional pavers, consider unusual placement—large stones interspersed with wide swaths of grass, for example—to cut down on the total material needed.

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10-Minute Outdoor Decor

Refresh your outdoor room in a flash. These quick and easy backyard ideas make a major impact in your space. Best of all, they can be done without straining your wallet. Use these tips to liven up a space without committing to a full remodeling project.

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Low-Cost Backyard Seating Ideas

Garden party with hammock nook patio
Tria Giovan

Use this simple backyard idea to instantly elevate your outdoor space: Create zones or separate areas with a few shifts in furniture to delineate eating, relaxing, cooking, and more. This doesn't require any new furniture purchases; use rugs to shift traffic or styles of chairs to guide people into nooks.

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DIY Backyard Ideas

concrete pavers patio wood table large stone planter
Peter Krumhardt

Get creative with backyard ideas that minimize costs and materials; you just need to be willing to invest time and effort. In this backyard, a slatted fence—with the boards spaced a bit wider than normal—helps to reduce wood costs. Big concrete pavers take the place of pricey stone for a patio, while building materials help create the containers and outdoor table base.

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Add Vintage Hardscaping Elements

Rebar Arch Over Brick Path
Kim Cornelison

Hunt down affordable treasures and bring vintage style to your space with this inexpensive backyard idea. Many hardscaping elements, such as simple trellises or arbors, can be found either used or at flea markets. These outdoor items can add height, define traffic flow, or indicate movement from front to back.

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Build Color with Containers

overall patio with assorted coleus and black chairs
Peter Krumhardt

Annuals can be less expensive than perennials and shrubs, and they're a great way to add color and impact to a backyard, especially when arranged in containers. Matching vessels offer design cohesion, as does a similar color palette for the plants. Another cheap backyard patio idea: A stone slab on top of a lumber scrap makes for a casual outdoor side table.

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