Tips From a Pro
As host of DIY Network's Yard Crashers, Matt Blashaw has seen plenty of backyards in need of sprucing up. The common thread in all of them? A lack of planning when it comes to outdoor space. Fortunately, it's easier—and less expensive—than you may think to undergo a backyard makeover. Here, seven ideas from Matt that can give your backyard a boost without breaking the bank.
Define Your Spaces
Deciding what spaces you need—dining area, cooking area, shady lounging area, play area—and clearly defining them can make a big visual impact on a yard. Doing this can be as inexpensive as repositioning the furniture and accessories you already have. You may also want to build or buy a storage shed to keep kids' toys out of sight when not in use.
Create a Garden Path
Adding a meandering path gives a polished look to an otherwise untamed space. Rather than using pavers, Matt suggests quarter-inch crushed rock, available in a variety of colors. Drive in stakes to determine the shape, then wrap bender board (used for edging lawns) around them. Lay down four to five inches of crushed rock and flatten the surface with a plate compactor, which you can rent from a garden- or home-supply center.
For anyone who has a plain concrete patio (and, according to Matt, many of us do), there are two easy, inexpensive ways to give it a fresh look. The first is to coat the surface with masonry stain in a color of your choice, like warm honey or deep brown. You might even consider a checkerboard pattern. A second option: Lay slate tiles over the concrete with a thin-set mortar like VersaBond to create an elegant appearance.
Try a Trellis
You see trellises in garden centers all the time, and you've probably never even thought about picking one up, but these architectural details can add a quick and easy accent in the yard. Matt advises placing one toward the back of the garden as a focal point, perhaps using it to mark the entrance to a sitting area or vegetable bed. Choose a flowering vine to plant on either side.
Add Some Paint
Single-story homes, Matt observes, are perfect for this idea: Paint the back of your house a different color than the other three sides, opting for a shade that compliments the garden. Neutral shades like taupe, beige, or light gray work well and can coordinate with landscaping features such as a stone path or a honey-hued fence.
If your backyard features a large, flat lawn, add some dimension by positioning boulders (available at landscaping supply stores) throughout the space. You might choose to arrange them individually or cluster a few together. Don't be afraid to cut into the lawn to accommodate them, Matt notes, and leave some space around for planting colorful perennials or small shrubs.
Mulch, Mulch, Mulch
Whether you're a lawn care novice or a master gardener, everyone can use a little help around the yard. Subscribe to The Dirt newsletter for tips, recommendations, and problem-solving tools that can help you tame your great outdoors.