The sun is shining, the school year is winding down, and summer is nearly upon us. We're backyard dreaming, and we're pretty sure we're not alone.
Frankly, once spring break is upon us, it's a downhill slide into full-time outdoor living for this family. Our fleeting thoughts are about outdoor kitchens and resort-style pools.
But if your budget is more "Live it up on vacation for a long weekend in July" than "Spend your annual salary on a dream yard," you can still create a snazzy space. At least that's what we are always searching for.
Below, we share a few tips and tricks to create a resort-style outdoor space on a budget.
Bring in a water feature
Not only does it give you a great focal point, but a water feature can also create a relaxation zone. You can create a pond in your backyard for $100-300 according to This Old House, with a few tools you probably already have around the house and about six hours of effort.
For under $200, you can also bring in an inexpensive fountain, which has the added benefit of creating soothing white noise that can drown out the sound of traffic.
Build your own fountain for a custom look if you have a bit of DIY skill. Check out Sunset magazine for some ideas.
Create a patio
Looking for an inexpensive and easy-care alternative to grass or concrete? Try pavers.
If you can use a shovel to create a flat surface, lay down sand for a foundation followed by pebbles or mulch, and place stones on top, you can create an inexpensive patio area, or a walkway. Concrete step stones come in a range of pre-fab sizes from 12"x12" up, and can be found at Home Depot in gray or red for under a buck a piece. For a fancier look, you can also choose irregular shaped step stones that look like natural stone, or a herringbone paver patio like this.
You don't have to have a kitchen to rival a five-star restaurant outside in order to have a useful outdoor cooking, prepping, and eating area. If you already have a barbecue, you're halfway there. You can add a rolling bar cart or outdoor island for counter space. Or buy a high bar area with seating like this one from Target. "This can help to eliminate what can be costly custom improvements like concrete countertops and stone bases," said HGTV. "It's also a great solution for homeowners who would like to take the grilling station with them for a future home."
Bring in a small fridge like this one you can get for $119 at Walmart, and you're all set. Consider purchasing a pre-made outdoor grill island or bar-style structure.
Wouldn't you love one of those built-in things with a full-coverage roof with a fan and heaters and a flat-screen TV in the corner? Yeah, us too. But you can replicate the look inexpensively with a variety of arbors and pergolas, like this metal-topped gazebo for $1048 we've had our eye on at Lowe's that gives your yard a resort look for much less. You can find soft-top versions for half that price. Look for sales that make them even more affordable.
Outdoor fireplaces can invite great ambiance, and can also invite beg dents in your bank account. But you can create the same feel with an inexpensive pre-fab firepit. Set up some inexpensive but comfortable patio chairs around it and you'e got a great seating area. Better yet, build your own firepit. Get some ideas on DIY Network.
Nothing can transform a space more quickly at night than a few strands of twinkling lights. Hang them from your trees or along your fence and in and around conversation areas.
If you have a patio cover, you can also run rope lights along the interior. These LED fairy lights are solar, so you don't have to worry about electricity or non-functioning bulbs. Check out some more great ideas here.