Cheap DIY Backyard Ideas to Refresh Your Outdoor Space

There are dozens of cheap ways to refresh your backyard with DIY projects.

There are endless possibilities when it comes to cheap DIY backyard ideas. Refreshing your outdoor space doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. And the best part is, there are countless things that you can do by yourself, without getting into any sort of renovation.

It’s amazing what a few simple touches can add to your outdoor space. With a few weeks of summer still to go, now’s the time to try doing something new with your backyard.

Cheap DIY backyard ideas range from gardening to aesthetics to toys for the kids. Here are 30 to get you started:

1. Paint a few concrete squares

Sounds simple enough, right? It is. If you have concrete squares that make up part of your backyard, consider applying some latex floor paint onto a few select ones. These accents will brighten up the area, especially if you select colors that pop.

To make sure the color lasts, consider starting with primer. Then, paint multiple coats, allowing for time to dry between each. Finally, finish the tiles by using a concrete protective sealer.

2. Create pillows out of grocery bags

This is a great DIY idea for the backyard, with the added benefit of being able to recycle used grocery bags. Simply create a “bag of bags” as your pillow filling. Lay each individual bag flat, and roll it up loosely before placing it in the main bag. This will make your final product less lumpy.

Continue to stuff the bag until you get the density of pillow that you prefer. Then, once finished, simply use two tea towels and staple them together to create your pillow case.

Pillows not only add some color to your outdoor furniture, they also provide a bit more comfort as well.

3. Make a cinderblock couch

Using cinderblocks and long pieces of wood, you can make an outdoor couch. You will need 12 cinderblocks in total to be able to have 6 for each side. Make sure that the ground you are working on is completely level before you begin. If it’s not, consider relocating the couch.

First, set up your cinderblocks. On each side of your couch, you’ll want 4 cinderblocks standing vertically, and 2 placed on top, horizontally.

Next you will need to use your 4 pieces of 4” x 4” x 10 foot lumber. Feed each piece through the cinderblocks on either side. Make sure that there is at least 6 inches of wood sticking out on either end.

Make sure the placement and size of the couch looks good to you, then temporarily remove the beams. Use concrete adhesive to seal the cinderblocks. Once dry, put the beams back in. Decorate your new cinderblock couch with pillows and enjoy.

4. Add a cinderblock coffee table

If you have cinderblocks left to spare, you can paint and arrange them into an outdoor coffee table, similar to the way in which you would make the sides of the cinderblock couch.

5. Use a mailbox for storing outdoor tools

Not only is this one of the easiest cheap DIY ideas for your backyard, it’s fast to install. Simply purchase a mailbox with a lid from any hardware store. Then, install it on the fence near where you do your gardening or other yard work. A simple storage solution also tides up tools in your backyard.

6. Make colorful planters out of recycled tires

Using a few recycled tires is one way to make planters for your garden. You can spray paint them to add some color first. Place wooden slats in the bottom of each tire for support. Then, line the bottom with a burlap bag. Next, fill your tires with soil and plant seeds as you would normally do.

Old tires are the start of an easy and cost effective backyard DIY

7. Turn a large metal bucket into a coffee table

A metal bucket that’s approximately 3 feet wide can be the base of a coffee table. Use ¼ inch plywood as your base for attaching 2×6 boards. Next you’ll need to draw a circle and cut your plywood accordingly. You can add some stain on the top once the wood is attached.

8. Use concrete crack filler to stop weeds from sprouting up in your pathway

This is as easy and efficient as cheap DIY backyard ideas come. Simply apply concrete crack filler to the gaps in your walkway to create a smooth, even path with no more weeds.

9. Make a tool hanger out of an old rake

If you’ve got a green thumb, chances are you have lots of tools kicking around in your backyard too. An old rake fastened to fence or wall of the garage can make the difference between a mess and good organization.

Simply secure the rake in place, and use each piece as a separate hanging space for each of your individual tools.

10. Use an Ikea curtain system for optional shade

Ever wondered how to make a shady spot in your backyard without an umbrella? You can find all that you need at Ikea to make an horizontal curtain system.

A combination of the Swedish home outfitter’s Dyning Canopy, Dignitet curtain wire and Syrlig curtain rings are just the ticket. Install the curtain wire above the length of the space you wish to create optional shade, and simply add the curtains. You can pull them open or closed as you see fit. The best part is, unlike an umbrella, this DIY idea takes up no space on the ground itself.

11. Make a swing out of a skateboard for the kids

An old skateboard can easily double as the seat of a swing. After finding a suitable location (and a tree with a sturdy branch), remove the wheels from the skateboard. Sand it and paint it however you wish, then drill holes in the skateboard on either side. You will then use these holes to thread the rope through. Fasten it securely to the sturdy branch, and prepare for hours of fun for kids (and grown-ups) alike.

12. Use mirrors to make your backyard space look bigger

Just like with the inside of your house, a mirror tosses light and creates the illusion of space. Consider adding a mirror to your backyard to create the effect of a seemingly endless garden. If you are able to get an old wooden window frame from a flea market or antiques store, this could work as a creative border to a mirror that you could hang on the side of your house or a backyard fence.

13. Collect pinecones and use them as bedding for your garden

Cover the soil surrounding your plants with pinecones. They look nice, and also have the added benefit of keeping pets or another animals out of your garden.

14. Spray paint pebbles with glow-in-the-dark paint, and create a path for night time

Line the cracks in your walkway with pebbles that you’ve spray painted with glow in the dark paint. Night owls in particular may favor this of all the cheap DYI backyard ideas. Once the sun goes down, you’ll have a unique and visible walkway throughout your yard.

15. Cover your trampoline springs with pieces of pool noodles

It’s not only an extra safety precaution, it also looks cool. Take pool noodles of several different colours and slice them into pieces long enough to cover the springs in a trampoline. Place them on at random to create a rainbow effect that will also be handy in the event of an accidental tumble.

16. Create stepping stones using rubber door mat moulds

Rubber door mats come in all kinds of patterns and textures. If you’re planning to create some stepping stones for your backyard, why not use a rubber mat as a mould?

You can start by purchasing a stepping stone kit. Then, once in the process of working with the wet concrete, apply your rubber mat. You will need to be careful to gently pry the mat out of the wet concrete. Your stones will then need some time to dry.

Once done, a beautiful set of patterned stones will be the result of this budget friendly backyard DIY project.

Rubber mats have unique design and textures perfect for backyard DIY

17. Make a fence shelf (or side table)

Attaching a shelf or side table to your fence gives you more room to put stuff down in the backyard, and can be tucked away easily when not in use.

You’ll need one 8 foot 2×2 board, four 6 foot 5×8 pine dog ear picket boards, two 4” heavy duty tee hinges, and a box of 1 ¼ inch screws. When it comes to tools, you’ll need the following:

  • Sander
  • Level
  • Drill
  • Tape measure
  • Circular saw or hand saw
  • Speed square
  • Pencil

The first step involves cutting your boards to 48 inches. Then, cut the remaining part of the board so that it will fit underneath the 48” pieces. After you line them up, you can screw everything together. Once you have one solid piece, you can attach it to the fence with the tee hinges.

You can add scrap of wood to the underside of the table to hold the detachable legs stable at the top. Then, you will need to custom fit the legs of your table according to your fence. After you’re done doing that, you can sand it down and have a fence table that can pop up whenever you need it.

18. Sew pillows together to create a giant pillow quilt

If you have old pillows that no longer have a use indoors, think twice before you toss them. Sewing multiple pillows together into a large rectangle or square will make a comfy outdoor picnic blanket. It’s also perfect for kids’ sleepovers, outdoor movie viewings, and just spending time outside with a good book.

19. Make a giant outdoor movie screen for the backyard (the best of all cheap DIY backyard ideas for film buffs) 

You will need a projector to complete this DIY project for your backyard, but making the screen itself is both cost efficient and worth it for all the outdoor movie-watching fun that will result.

You’ll need a few things before you get started:

Once you’ve gathered your supplies together, you can begin. First, you will want hang your curtain wire between two trees or posts. You may want to consider using exterior screws that are 3” long for this part.

The next step is building the frame. This can be adjusted or customized depending on the viewing ratio that you prefer. Then, once you have created the frame out of your boards, you will need to staple the screen to the frame. First, make sure the fabric is centered and apply a few staples to the top and bottom, then the sides. Pull the fabric and staple your way to the corners, being careful to stretch out any wrinkles so as to create a smooth and tight screen surface.

Finally, hang up your screen. Add three hook screws to the top of the frame, and then hang the frame on the wire. You can add an extra step to stop the screen from moving too much in the wind by fastening bungee cords between the posts or trees, and the screen’s bottom corners.

20. Plant mini gardens inside steel pipe edging

Using the interior of steel pipe edging, add soil and seeds to plant a tiny garden. Try lining up multiple pipes with mini gardens inside along your path or walkway for another cheap backyard DIY.

21. Go big with long grass in galvanized tubs

The opposite of the mini garden, another cheap backyard DIY involves using galvanized tubs and planting tall grass in them. You can use a series of these to create partitions, or for extra privacy in your backyard. If mosquitoes are a problem in your area, consider planting lemon grass. The scent of lemon is a natural mosquito repellent.

22. Use upside down wine bottles to create garden edging

It’s as simple as planting a wine bottle upside down in your garden. Bottles will create a garden edge that is both effective and visually interesting.

23. Make a table that doubles as a storage container out of a terracotta pot and tray

All you need is a large terracotta pot, a terracotta tray that can sit on top as a lid, and outdoor paint that will weather well. You will want to make sure that the pot is large enough to sit at a good height for a coffee table or side table. You also want to ensure that the tray fits over the top of the pot without sinking in.

To add some color, apply tape around the outside of the pot’s rim, and paint this and the edge of the tray in a color of your choice. You may want to consider doing a few coats. Make sure to allow for plenty of time to dry between each coat. Once done, you’ll have a small table with the added benefit of storage. This cheap backyard DIY is especially great for a smaller outdoor space.

24. Try some DIY landscaping by making a buried pot garden.

It’s exactly what it sounds like. Try a “sunken garden” effect by burning a few terracotta pots in your garden so that only the rims are visible. Then, plant flowers or other plants in them as you would normally.

25. Apply stone or tile to the siding of your home’s foundation

Wherever siding is visible, try adding some stone or tile to refresh the appearance.

26. Paint some stones for your rock garden

Give a rock garden a ‘pop’ of color by painting a few stones with whatever pattern or design you like. It’s a great DIY summer project for kids and will result in a personalized touch for your backyard.

Get the kids involved in this budget friendly backyard DIY

27. Make a new tool for planting seeds more easily with wine corks

Your gardening is sure to be easier (and more even) with this cheap backyard DIY for seed planting. Start by taking a 2” wide piece of plywood, and cutting it into 2”x2”. You will then need to measure it into 2” grids.

At each 2” mark, apply a ¾” wood screw. Then, screw a wine cork in, after cutting them into 1” in length each. You can use a regular box cutter to cut the corks to the right size. You can also add a small amount of liquid nail at the base of each screw to ensure that the corks will remain firmly in place.

When you go to plant your seeds, use this new tool by firmly pressing it into the soil. You’ll have created a grid of 1” holes in one simple step.

28. Edge your garden with stone bricks or cement tiles to maximize your lawn mowing

By using stone bricks or cement tiles, you can create a distinct boundary between the end of your lawn and the beginning of your garden. This is a great way ensure you can mow as much of the lawn as possible without getting into the plants. At the same time, it will also keep soil and mulch contained within your garden.

29. Plant a multi-level herb garden with window boxes and stair risers

You can make a multi-level garden for your herbs with just a few window boxes and a stair riser. Simply place a window box on each level of the stairs, and let stand in a sunny corner of your backyard.

30. Create a foot-rinsing station out of a waterproof frame and flat stones

Ever wanted a simple solution to dirty feet coming into the house all summer long? A waterproof frame and some flat stones are your solution. Simply fill the frame with stones and set it up outside near your garden hose. Not only is it visually attractive (it will look like a mini rock garden), it will also serve as an effective foot washing station.

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