13 Before and After Backyard Makeovers You Can Do in a Weekend

Updated: May 24, 2024

Have a bland backyard and a free weekend? We'll show you how to update your outdoor space for fun and function. Check out these cheap backyard makeover ideas!

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before deck makeover
Family Handyman

Before: Sound Structure, Worn Decking

This home’s existing decking and railing was in in poor condition, but the pressure-treated structure holding it up was still sound. There’s no need to tear down the entire deck when adding new decking and railings does the job. The results of this simple makeover will surprise you.

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after deck makeover

After: Refreshed Decking Looks Brand New

If your existing deck is old, shabby and a maintenance nightmare, you don’t have to tear it all down and start over. Chances are that the structural parts are still in good shape. If so, you can simply remodel it with new decking, rails and stairs, and save tons of money over the cost of a complete rebuild.

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no-rot deck before

Before: No Space for Relaxing Outdoors

When a deck is inviting, you know it, and here’s one that will definitely draw you outdoors. It’s spacious and attractive. It features large planter boxes to put green plants and flowers close at hand. And it has a versatile railing system that lets you combine solid panels for privacy and open sections for great views and cooling breezes.

We framed the deck with pressure-treated wood, which will last for decades. Then we covered the framing with plastic/wood composite decking and an engineered wood trim, aluminum balusters and fiber cement siding. With these materials your deck will look great for a decade with little more than an occasional cleaning.

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no-rot deck after

After: Amazing, Maintenance-Free Deck

Build this spacious, semi-private deck, which features planters, a handsome railing, low-voltage outdoor lighting and a wide range of low-maintenance, durable materials.

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before privacy fence

Before: Unattractive View

The deck location on this home includes an unsightly view of the neighbor’s backyard and dog pen. When you can’t relocate a deck, try this simple project instead…

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finished privacy fence

After: Perfect Private Hideaway

If you enjoy spending time on your deck but the neighborhood pest seems to pop over every time you step outside, this deck privacy fence is for you. It’s designed to gracefully replace sections of your existing railing and make your deck more private. It also blocks unsightly views, reduces outdoor noise and gives you shelter from the wind, making your deck a more comfortable spot on those breezy days that usually drive you inside.

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before overall deck

Before: No Place to Kick Back

If there are no areas to gather with friends or just sit and relax, your backyard space is being wasted. Turn it into something special.

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full deck after

After: Space to Relax and Entertain

This dream deck isn’t huge — about 16 ft. wide x 18 ft. deep plus bays and stairs — but it’s big on features. The upper deck is just the right size for entertaining small groups — spacious but intimate. Cantilevered nooks on both sides provide space for seating and barbecue storage. The pergola shades the upper deck and the home’s interior from the sun, and it offers a space for hanging or climbing plants. The lower deck is a great place to hang out in the sun, while the cascading stairs flow into the yard and provide lots of space for planters and pots.

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new railing before

Before: Blah Deck Railing

We’ll show you how to dress up a dull deck with sturdy, handsome railing that provides a wide-open view.

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new deck railing

After: Safe, See-Through Deck Railing

Any deck can benefit from a cedar deck railing with glass. In addition to adding flair to your outdoor space, it also creates a feeling of spaciousness on even the smallest decks.

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gravel path before

Before: No Place to Pass

Add an element of interest as well as a practical way to walk through your backyard with a gravel path. It’s easier to do (and less expensive) than you may think.

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gravel path after

After: Affordable Backyard Pathway

Establishing a gravel path provides the simplest and most cost-effective way to create a pleasant garden walkway. It feels soft underfoot, but it’s solid enough to handle a loaded wheelbarrow. And although it looks informal, it can complement a formal garden, especially if you add a stone border.

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white pergola

Before: Hot Paver Patio

Is your paver patio too hot to sit on for more than two minutes? Create a touch of backyard shade by adding a pergola.

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white pergola after cheap backyard makeover ideas, patio makeovers

After: Pretty Pergola for a Hint of Shade

Build a vine-covered pergola in your backyard to shade a stone patio or wood deck using wood beams and lattice set on precast, classical-style columns. The dappled sunlight created by the overhead latticework creates a cool, relaxing environment perfect for backyard entertaining.

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screen porch before

Before: Buggy, Blank Backyard

Are you chased out of your own backyard by mid-summer bugs? Keep scrolling for the ultimate solution to take back your outdoor space! Here are a few tips to help you renovate your yard on a budget.

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screen porch after

After: Bug-Free Outdoor Room

You can add a spacious, airy outdoor screened-in porch to your home. We’ll show you everything you need to complete the project yourself, including how to frame the porch, attach it to your house and all of the finishing details. Sure, it’ll take a lot of time and work. But once it’s done, you can beat the bugs and spend more time outdoors during the summer.

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pond deck before

Before: Wishing for a Water Feature

Have space in your backyard for a unique garden water feature?

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deck pond after
Family Handyman

After: Zen Space, And Less to Mow!

Let us show you how to add this easy-to-build garden pond and deck to your yard. This serene retreat can be built by a novice and doesn’t require a lot of expensive tools, yet it offers a unique design.

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before brick and stone pathway

Before: Trampled Grass Walkway

Do you want to spruce up an ordinary, all-purpose sidewalk or patch of grass that’s constantly walked on? If so, this project is a great eye-catching solution.

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after brick and stone pathway

After: Heirloom Garden Pathway

This brick and stone pathway dresses up a space along the side of the house from the driveway to a service door. It also provides a firm, smooth surface for rolling a garden cart or wheelbarrow and keeps your feet out of the mud on a rainy day. Its seven-foot width allows room for a bench to kick off your boots, with plenty of space left over for potted plants.

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patio before

Before: Place for a Patio

Want to put in a patio for outdoor dining? There’s more to think about besides just space. You must consider critical factors such as ground slope, drainage, shade and obstacles like tree roots and underground utility lines.

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stone patio finished

After: Natural Stone Patio

Add a welcoming feature to your backyard with this attractive, long-lasting stone and brick patio. This design easily adapts to fit your yard. Choose from a wide variety of stone types and brick styles. The result will be permanent and maintenance-free.

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before backyard stairs

Before: Sloped Site for Stairs

Installing stone steps in your yard can be complex, but it is a doable DIY project. You’ll first need to figure out how many step risers you’ll need. Gentle slopes like ours require short risers and long treads, while steep slopes require taller risers (a maximum of eight inches) and short treads. If your hill has steep and gentle slopes, break it up into sections and calculate the step layout for each area.

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backyard stairs finished

After: Natural, Stepping Stone Stairs

These garden path steps are built on a gradual slope, but by changing the riser and tread sizes you can build them on slopes as steep as about 40-degrees. Rustic steps like these are well suited for informal garden paths like ours, but we wouldn’t recommend them for entry or other steps that get heavy daily use.

Besides basic gardening tools, leather gloves and carpenter’s level, you’ll need a few special tools for breaking and moving stone. Buy a 4-lb. maul to chip and break stone. If you have to cut a few stones, buy a dry-cut diamond blade. To move the stone, rent or buy a two-wheeled dolly with large wheels.

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focal point before

Before: Lacking Backyard

You don’t need heavy equipment and a week of work to lay an attractive and durable path. We designed this brick walkway for simplicity and ease of construction. It’s made from old street pavers and granite cobbles set on a sand bed. But you can substitute just about any pavers or types of stones that are readily available and fit your landscape.

backyard focal point

After: Fantastic Focal Point

Make a simple garden path from recycled pavers or cobblestones set on a sand bed. Learn the details of path building, from breaking cobblestones to easy, fast leveling using plastic landscape edging.