13 Easy DIY Backyard Landscaping Ideas

Best Of Hometalk
by Best Of Hometalk
2 Materials

If you’re looking to add some pizzazz to your yard, these 13 DIY backyard landscaping ideas have something for everyone. From easy ideas to build a raised garden bed to building retaining walls, fish ponds, and greenhouses, there’s something for everyone among these great makeover ideas.

Backyard Landscaping Ideas (Shutterstock)

13 Easy DIY Backyard Design and Small DIY Backyard Ideas

Not everyone has the luxury of acres to play with when they search for DIY backyard design ideas. We’ve included plenty of small backyard ideas, too.

Ready to get started? Feel free to pin the images or bookmark each page for project instructions. Then when you’re done, tell us about your project – we’d love to hear all about your backyard design DIY successes!

1. Total Yard Makeover

DIY Level: Beginner

George Yiannakus is a Hometalker from the island of Cyprus. And while you may think that someone gardening in such a beautiful place would have it easy, George moved into a new home with a bare dirt yard. Talk about a DIY challenge!

George and his friends made a trip to the lawn and garden store and returned with the project materials. These included synthetic grass (less to water in Cyprus’ long, hot, dry summers), white stones, edging and plants. Next, they cleaned weeds from the soil and raked it smooth. Unrolling the synthetic grass created an instant lawn.

The team added small islands of white stone surrounding climate appropriate plants and wooden planter boxes. Wicker furniture, edging to match the planter boxes, and geometric stones added to the final makeover which transformed this yard into a lovely, relaxing spot.

Backyard Design Ideas (George Yiannakis)

  See Post: George Yiannakis | Total Yard Makeover

2. DIY Backyar

DIY Level: Beginner

What to do when you remove a tree and all that’s left is an ugly tree stump? Build a raised garden bed! For sheer cleverness this is one of our favorite DIY backyard ideas.

“The Little Homestead in Boise” author constructed the raised bed from recycled untreated wooden pallets. Pallet pieces 2’ x 4’ screwed together to form an unusually-shaped bed that fit their yard. For small backyard ideas, take note: you don’t have to build a perfectly square or rectangular raised garden bed to make an attractive area for plantings.

Soil added to the three-layer high bed along with braces for support along the walls created a functional, pretty space for vegetables and herbs. You could also grow flowers and add garden statuary for a lovely backyard design.

DIY Backyard Garden Raised Bed (Little Homestead in Boise)

See Post: Little Homestead in Boise | DIY Backyard Garden Raised Bed

3. Amazing DIY Backyard Transformation on a Tiny Budget

DIY Level: Intermediate

The home featured in this backyard design lived a “maintenance free life” for over 20 years. During that time, the deck rotted and trees grew too close to the house. When the new owners moved in, they decided to complete an entire redesign of the space. The result? A lovely deck and garden for relaxing, playing, and daydreaming.

First, the Hometalkers removed the rotted old deck. Next, the area was smoothed and pavers used to outline the space for a new patio. Because the owners didn’t want to have to replace rotting wooden boards again, they filled the area with pea gravel and used a binding material to create a solid yet permeable surface. Pergolas for shade and steps for easy access added structure and practical elements to the garden area.

A bistro set, swing, and colorful flowers invite visitors to sit and enjoy the garden – a far cry from the dark yard it once was!

DIY Backyard Ideas on a Tiny Budget (Single Girl DIY)

See Post: Single Girl DIY | Amazing DIY Transformation on a Tiny Budget

4. DIY Backyard Makeover Before and After

DIY Level: Intermediate

Oregon’s climate leads to rotting wood if you’re not careful. These new homeowners spent the first eight years redoing the interior of their home and adding vegetable gardens before tackling the outdoor space. A wooden deck, once a feature of the yard, had now become an unsafe eyesore. These Hometalkers ripped out the rotted deck and like the previous DIYers, replaced it with pea gravel, which is suitable for Oregon’s wet climate. Transforming the pergola into a gazebo was the next step along with adding a convenient herb garden close to the kitchen for culinary inspiration.

DIY Backyard Makeover Before and After (Jami@ An Oregon Cottage)

See Post: Single Girl DIY | Amazing DIY Transformation on a Tiny Budget

5. Chalk Painting Backyard Patio Ceiling / and Back of House

DIY Level: Beginner

Hometalk contributor Deborah Luchak Nestor enjoys the beautiful porch along the back of her home but the original polyurethane finish the Nestors completed several years ago looked stained and tired. Deborah loved the look of chalk painting, so she chose a pretty Niagara blue ceiling, icicle gray for the house and ultra white for the trim. Although painting the grooved boards was time consuming and took several days, the results speak for themselves. The clean, cheerful porch invites lingering afternoons enjoying the fresh air and summer breezes.

Backyard Patio Designs (Deborah Luchak Nestor )

See Post: Deborah Luchak Nestor| Chalk Painting Backyard Patio Ceiling / and Back of House

6. Backyard Makeover: DIY Landscaping Project

DIY Level: Beginner

If you’re looking for small backyard ideas, this post is for you. When this Hometalker purchased a condo, they found themselves with a weed garden (you have to love someone who dubs a weedy patch weed garden). They transformed the weed garden into a pleasant garden area.

A few smart tips: The Hometalkers hand-pulled weeds first, rototiller, sprayed weed killer and used weed barrier fabric BEFORE adding paving stones and gravel to form a patio. This may seem like overkill, but if you have a weedy area in the garden, it’s actually a very smart move. Pulling existing weeds may not be enough to remove them for good. Weed seeds can lie dormant in the ground for years, depending on the weeds, and some weeds spread through long, underground roots. Weed killer destroys any weeds or roots leftover while weed barrier or landscape fabric prevents any seeds from germinating or emerging seedlings from receiving light. All of the steps lead to a carefree patio area from which to enjoy pleasant afternoons or relaxing container gardening. 

Backyard Makeover: DIY Landscape Project (Alchemy House)

See Post: Alchemy House| Backyard Makeover: DIY Landscape Project

7. Bench for Your Backyard

DIY Level: Beginner

Cinder blocks may not seem like the most inviting building material – wear gloves, this Hometalker advises, when handling them. But they make great supports for the corners of this DIY bench. For small backyard ideas, this is an easy project that can be adapted to almost any size garden. Plus, the cinder blocks double as cute planters for succulents.

First, stack the blocks and fill them with soil. Sand and paint the wood, then insert into the stacked cinder blocks. Add your succulents and voila – instant backyard bench!

Backyard Bench Ideas (Zest It Up)

See Post: Zest It Up | Bench for Your Backyard

8. Green House

DIY Level: Advanced

Can you really build a greenhouse in a small yard? Yes, and among the DIY backyard ideas, this one adds a gardener’s dream to a backyard design. The homeowners used salvaged windows to build a little greenhouse in the yard.

They paid nothing for the windows, which were given to them when someone replaced their existing windows. They framed the greenhouse with wood, making sure each area was level before adding the windows. The mosaic-like effect of the windows is achieved by using windows of varying sizes. Benches were added inside the building for plants, seed trays, and potting up new seedlings. The result is a little recycled greenhouse that uses old materials to new purpose and offers great small backyard ideas!

Backyard Greenhouse (Amy)

See Post: Amy | Green House

9. Fish Pond Makeover

DIY Level: Advanced

After a long New England winter, the homeowner’s fish pond was clogged with plants and mud and needed a makeover. The fish agreed. After all, they’d just spent the winter there and wanted a change, too.

First, the homeowners transferred the pond’s resident fish to safety. Next, they hauled away rocks and plants that had overgrown the existing pond. A new pond liner with a faux-rock finish spruced up the pond immediately, but additional rocks added to the perimeter created a neat border.

After adding the liner, the landscape around the pond was revised. Plants were removed, moved, and shared; new landscape barrier fabric was added before the plants were replaced. Solar lights created a beautiful picture so that they can enjoy the new pond by day or by night.

Backyard Fish Pond (Handan & Greg @The Navage Patch)
Backyard Fish Pond Makeover (Handan & Greg @The Navage Patch)

See Post: Handan & Greg @The Navage Patch | Fish Pond Makeover

Among our DIY backyard ideas, this one is ambitious, but the final result is well worth it. The fish agree.

10. Creating a Stone Mosaic Front Garden Path

DIY Level: Intermediate

A great backyard design includes hardscapes, like walkways and benches, that add to the overall picture of the yard. The practical concrete pathway in this yard got you from one place to another but did little to add to the yard’s beauty. Hometalker Kendall K had some help jackhammering the concrete away, but once it was gone, and the area tamped and smoothed, she was ready to roll up her sleeves and play. A collection of colorful stones, rocks, and mortar enabled her to paint with mosaics, created both a functional and beautiful pathway in the yard that reflects her garden aesthetic while still keeping the pathway in place.

Kendall’s tip: Make sure you work on each section at a time, and sand the mortar in between laying each stone.

Backyard DIY Path (Kendall K)

 See Post: Kendall K| Laying a Stone Mosaic Path

11.Retaining Wall on Property Line

DIY Level: Advanced

Hometalker John Riha needed to stabilize the soil on a hilly area dividing his property from his neighbor’s yard. A lovely stand of laurels begged to be kept, too, so the new retaining wall had to be both functional and respectful of the beautiful shrubs. John accomplished both with a retaining wall that offers both function and form.

Tip: John asked his neighbor’s permission before building the wall. He also asked for permission to work from her property side, which helped him access the wall easily. Always ask for permission from neighbors before undertaking any landscape project such as this, which can affect their property too. Check building codes and local utilities too if you need to dig into the soil.

John’s solution straddles the trees with a high and low retaining wall. Bump outs keep the trees in place without smothering them with excess soil or moisture pooling from the wall. First, he build each course and ensured it was level. Precision was important since the stability of the wall depends on a level, even surface. A six-inch gap behind the wall, filled with pea gravel, provided drainage. The resulting wall offers a practical yet elegant way to prevent erosion.

Backyard Retaining Wall (John Riha )

See Post: J ohn Riha| Retaining Wall on Property Line

12. Building a Tree house

DIY Level: Advanced

Need DIY backyard landscaping ideas that offer a play-escape for children? Add a tree house! What child doesn’t dream of a tree house, their very own personal place to escape to?

Tip: Pick a sturdy tree and avoid nailing boards directly to the tree. Affixing nails directly through the bark of the tree can damage the cambium, the living tissue of the tree that transports water and nutrients through the trunk and limbs. It can kill the tree. These Hometalkers sunk supports into the ground for the floor of the tree house, avoiding damage to the cherry tree.

A wooden platform and walls, formed the basis of the tree house. Clear plastic roofing materials allows lights into the house for safe play. A stained, rounded door, like a door on a hobbit hole, adds charm and whimsy to this adorable design. 

Backyard Tree House (A. Nguyen)

See Post: A. Nguyen| Building a Treehouse

13.DIY Curved Floating Deck

DIY Level: Advanced

A bare dirt area next to this home left the homeowner frustrated. When it rained, it was mud. When it was dry, it was just – ugly. What to do?

She leveled the area, tamped down the soil, and dug holes for concrete block footers. Next, she cemented them into place. Pressure treated 2 x 6 boards were cut to size to form joists. Ends were shaped to form the curve that mimicked the cement pathway, which remained in place.

Deck boards were then added and the curved area cut to shape against the cement walkway. Although not an easy task, the resulting deck offers a lovely place to relax (without the mud).

Shaping the deck boards freehand-style:

Backyard Floating Deck (Pinspired to DIY)

See Post: Pinspired to DIY| DIY Curved Floating Deck

Great DIY Backyard Ideas on a Small Budget

These clever DIY backyard ideas were all undertaken on relatively small budgets. Some, like the greenhouse and the raised bed, use recycled materials to minimize costs. Small backyard ideas including the transformation of the condo ‘weed garden’ into a patio and the beautiful walkway made from stones into mosaics all prove that creativity and a little sweat equity can change even the barest yard into a garden paradise.

For more backyard design ideas, visit Hometalk’s Backyards Page

Written for the Hometalk community by: Jeanne Grunert

Suggested materials:
  • Stones
  • Wood
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