6 Expert Backyard Makeover Tips You Should Try This Summer

Outdoor DIY projects can be fun, but there’s always a bit of pressure to finish them quickly. After all, you can easily hide that half-finished accent wall inside your home, but that partially constructed cinder block garden is on display for the neighbors to see.

Rather than offer a list of backyard makeover ideas that might be too lofty to pull off, here are some ideas from folks—both pros and DIYers—who actually made good on their aspirations for improving their outdoor living space.

See if you can’t get inspired by their success and apply it to your own backyard.

A Drought-Tolerant Landscape Saves on Your Water Bill

Marek Bowers of Bolder Green

Digging out the dead grass in his Los Angeles backyard started as a way to relieve stress, but it turned into a transformative experience for Marek Bowers’ yard and his life.

He wanted to create a drought-tolerant landscape, so he applied for and received a sizable rebate from the Turf Replacement Program of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. The positive DIY experience encouraged him to start his company, Bolder Green, to teach others about sustainable landscaping. 

Bowers says you can revamp your landscaping by adding plants and shrubs that are appropriate for your hardiness zone. Don’t worry about blowing your budget on expensive plants—Bowers loves “plant rescuing,” or buying discounted plants at your local home improvement store.

If you want to tackle a larger project, look for funding. “Seek out electric company and gas company rebates that are utility, city, and statewide,” Bowers says. “This can save you a ton of money.” 

You Can Upcycle Items Already in Your Yard

Marek Bowers of Bolder Green

Ever find random stones, bricks, or other items in your yard that you don’t quite know what to do with? Consider upcycling them in your landscape to give your yard a reclaimed look.

Bowers found old bricks that were buried in his yard, so he unearthed them all and used them to create borders in his new landscape.

Not Every Deck Refurbish Needs a Pro

Joshua Parrish of Hammer & Handsaw

Joshua and Dejené Parrish are the husband-and-wife team behind Hammer & Handsaw, a home improvement company. The birth of their first child inspired them to transform their outdoor living space, starting with their deck.

In addition to a new set of patio furniture, they extended and restained their deck. A deck extension is a big task that could likely set off warning bells for newer DIYers, but Joshua advises that it is a project you can tackle with the right equipment.

“DIYers could handle updating their deck as long as they have the proper tools and materials to get the job done right and according to their local municipalities code,” he says. “Most homeowners these days are only limited by the amount of work they feel comfortable doing,” he says. 

Backyard Tip

If a deck extension feels too grand or the deck codes in your area are simply too strict for your DIY skills, consider restaining your wood deck in a different color instead for a new look.

Painting Exterior Window Trim Makes a Big Impact

Joshua Parrish of Hammer & Handsaw

This is another project masquerading as maintenance but can also contribute to your backyard aesthetic.

The Parrish duo gave their exterior window trim a fresh coat of bright, white paint, which made quite the impact on their upgraded deck—not to mention the look of their home’s exterior.

“A new coat of paint is always an easy way to improve a space either interior or exterior, as long as you have good techniques for sharp, clean lines,” Joshua says.

Most homeowners these days are only limited by the amount of work they feel comfortable doing.

Build a Children’s Playhouse with Room to Grow

@bungalowgirl_pdx / Instagram

Stephanie Brown and her husband completed countless DIY projects over the years, but one that brought them the most joy was building a playhouse for their kids.

The crafty duo built a platform for an elevated structure that would have multiple uses for the family over the years, and they recommend keeping this in mind when tackling any backyard project.

“We took inspiration from Japanese garden tea houses,” Brown explains. “After we finished, we joked that once the kids outgrow the structure, we’ll repurpose it as a wine pavilion.”

Add Ambient Lighting

@ann.living / Instagram

Jess Farinha, the founder of London House Cleaners, is also an avid DIYer alongside her cleaning business. She shares that creating a more beautiful backyard doesn’t have to be a chore—start small and grow from there.

A small feature that was important for Farinha to revamp was her backyard lighting. She invested in some soft white lights string lights to upgrade her backyard. 

“I used warm, white string lights to decorate my garden and hung some lights over the pergola roof to give it a royal look,” she says, noting her choice of warm white bulbs complemented her garden.

She also added frosted glass lanterns near the water feature to “create a magical effect.” Overall, upgrading the lighting created the calming ambiance of her dreams.

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