The Outdoor Living Space Upgrades That are Totally Free

Between furnishing, lighting, and decorating your patio, porch, or deck, outdoor ambiance is anything but free—unless you DIY it. Complete one of these 19 upgrades to make an everlasting impression on your outdoor living area without making a dent in your wallet.

Spruce up your outdoor living space

19 DIY Outdoor Projects on a Budget

Whether it's a sprawling yard, cozy balcony, or something in between, take advantage of your home's exterior space. You can make it a fun and comfortable spot to spend time under the sun and stars without having to spend a fortune on new outdoor furnishing and decor. Check out these affordable DIY projects for the outdoors, so you can enjoy it all season long.

Favorite Hangout

DIY Hanging Chair

Snag extra seating in a pint-sized yard by installing a hanging chaise on your porch, deck, or patio. This lightweight lounger, comprising a canvas drop cloth supported by wooden dowels and natural rope, is perfect for basking in the sun—yet doubles as a swing for family fun.

Related: 10 of the Best Porch Swings You Can Buy on a Budget

Let There Be Light

DIY Tin Can Lantern

Make light work of illuminating outdoor spaces with these tin can lanterns, created by drilling a personalized pattern onto the faces of empty coffee cans. Coat the cans with primer and paint, and then place a tea light inside of each to illumine the night with color.

Related: 8 New Ideas for DIY Outdoor Lighting

Screened Out

DIY Drop Cloth Patio Curtain

Installing a privacy screen on the porch or patio is a simple way to screen out unwanted attention. Hang a canvas drop cloth (or any fabric of your choice) from the porch ceiling using grommets and hooks or with a pole and shower curtain hooks. If plain white isn't your look then add extra details using fabric paint. You'll attract the attention of neighbors—while keeping prying eyes out.

Related: 11 Ideas for Better Backyard Privacy

Turn Up the Heat

DIY Flower Pot Space Heater

Unused terra cotta pots offer an inexpensive way to heat a cold corner of the deck. Place lit scented candles in a glass bowl, covering them with an upturned plant pot. As the candle burns, the pot will diffuse heat into its surroundings, creating an ambiance as aromatic as it is warm.

Related: Genius! Cozy Up Without a Space Heater

Youtube via ICEEUVisuals

Island Fever

Spray Paint Faded Outdoor Furniture

If an island getaway is beyond your budget, bring the Caribbean into your backyard by repainting your old patio furniture in tropical tints. Spray-paint furniture in vibrant oranges, complementing them with electric blues and calming yellows for side chairs and tables with flair.

Related: 15 Doable Designs for DIY Outdoor Furniture

Crafty Cushions

DIY Outdoor Cushions

Why throwaway timeworn placemats, when you can upcycle them into throw pillows for an outdoor bench! Using a seam ripper, tear the seams of a dual-layer placemat. Fill the case with bargain craft stuffing, and stitch the opening to fashion eye-catching cushions for a budget-friendly porch.

Related: 21 Totally Free Ways to Upgrade Your Home

Strong Stumps

DIY Tree Stump Tables

If your small outdoor space is a few tables short of a furniture set, look to Mother Nature for extra surface space. Tree stumps and upturned wicker baskets can be repurposed into attractive side tables, and when adorned with home-grown planters, they evoke a truly rustic retreat.

Related: The Best (and Weirdest) Things You Can Do with a Tree Stump

Flower Power

DIY Tissue Paper Flowers

String lights aren’t the only option for elevating an outdoor space on a shoestring budget. These DIY florets, cut from tissue paper and stitched together with a needle and thread, create a luminous lantern effect when hung directly from light cords.

Related: 10 Outdoor DIYs You Can Do for a Dollar

Stencil It In

DIY Stenciled Floor

You don’t need pro painting skills to recreate this pallet wood deck that dazzles. Create personalized stencils with Silhouette Portrait, or print out pre-designed stencils. Then, using the stencil, paint the pattern over a portion of the deck to create a colorful welcome area for guests.

Related: 18 Design Ideas to Make Your Deck a Destination

Block Party

DIY Cinder Block Bench

Due to their light weight, negative space, and neutral tone, cinder blocks instantly add flavor and function to a garden. When stacked and topped with wood boards, they can provide support for you and a bevy of friends.

Related: 9 Creative Ways to Build a Backyard Hangout

Made in the Shade

DIY Outdoor Shade Awning

Shut out harsh sunlight and bugs, and create a clearly defined outdoor space by erecting a minimalist shade over the porch. Simply secure an old curtain or bed sheet to hooks attached to your home's exterior to create a chic canopy above dining and reclining areas.

Related: 10 Smart Ways to Bring Shade to Your Outdoor Space

High Lights

DIY Mason Jar Lights

Bring the regal look of a multi-tier chandelier outdoors with these mason jar luminaries. Filled with pebbles and tea lights, and wrapped with twine, the jars can be tied to a fallen branch and secured to the eaves of the porch roof to create an intimate al fresco setting.

Related: 18 Inspiring Ideas for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

Spare Surface

Wrap an Old Tire in Rope to Make an Ottoman

Got an old tire you're ready to kick to the curb? Upcycle it into a coffee table for your outdoor living room. Nail symmetrical plywood rounds to the top and base of the tire, followed by four feet to the base. Once the table has been covered in rope, its humble beginnings will go undetected!

Related: 14 Cheap DIYs for a Better Backyard

Block Bar

DIY Cinderblock Bar

Give a boring patio a boost with a backyard bar. Stack cinderblocks on top of each other and place a slab of wood on top for a fun and modern bar. It also works double duty as a planter!

Related: 8 Great DIY Ways to Use Cinder Blocks

Boosted Decor

DIY Fire Pit

There's no better way to spend time in the backyard than gathered around a fire pit. Stake the area where you want to build the pit and then dig the ring, about eight inches deep. Fill it with sand and level it, and then get to stacking stones. Once you have two levels, add a layer of gravel to the center, and then stack one or two additional rings of stones. The final step? Start a fire!

Related: No Money to Burn? 13 Fire Pits You Can Afford

Less is S'More

DIY Soda Can S'More Roaster

Skip the flint and steel, and create a miniature backyard bonfire with this DIY soda can stovetop. Cut the bottoms of two cans before adjoining them with sealant. Then, add a fuel, like alcohol, into a hole in the top of the can to ignite the stove, and get the s’mores cooking!

Related: 13 Exotic Ideas to Transform a Basic Backyard

Instructables via Von Malegowski

Cutting Edge

Grow Plants from Cuttings

Grow your garden without forking over any green by propagating plants—that is, growing new plants from existing ones. Cut the stems from houseplants at an angle, removing the bottom leaves and placing the cuttings in a moist pot to encourage their growth into hardy sprouts.

Related: Do These 8 Things and Never Pay for Plants Again

Nautical Star

DIY Outdoor Tablecloth

Just because you're dining outside doesn't mean you can't dress up the table. Make a tablecloth for your patio table by adhering painter’s tape to canvas drop cloth and stippling white or colored paint onto the exposed cloth with a foam brush. Remove the tape and let the cloth dry, then set the design with an iron for a perfectly fun finish.

Related: 11 Ways to Elevate Your Boring Balcony

Unlikely Luminary

DIY Outdoor String Lights

A small yard or balcony with no room for trees poses a puzzle: Where to hang the string lights in your outdoor oasis? You can still have a twinkling sanctuary by looping the lights around a patio umbrella, balcony bars, or potted plants. 


Simple Living

19 Backyard Ideas on a Budget

You don't have to spend a fortune to get great style and function in your outdoor space. With a few of these creative ideas, you'll have the coolest backyard on the block.

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