Blank slate.

I need something in my backyard. I don't have a huge budget. It is so unused but crying for something fun and or relaxing. Help!
q blank slate, gardening, landscape
There is a slight slope.
  13 answers
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jun 06, 2014
    The first thing you need to think about is what you want from your backyard. Would a fire pit draw you there? A water feature? A vegetable garden? Your own orchard? When you figure out what you want, there are budget-friendly ways to achieve almost anything.

  • Pauline Cobb Choate Pauline Cobb Choate on Jun 06, 2014
    As Douglas says, determine what you like/want. For me, it's different 'rooms' in my garden. I have a small water feature with goldfish in one area, a courtyard with arbor in another, a sun garden, a shade garden, and a vegetable garden, etc. If it's of any great size, I would start with one area, define it, and let it grow into an area you want to spend time in. Rome nor gardens/outdoor living spaces happens quickly. Unless, of course, you're in the right place at the right time and have Yard Crashers find you. :-) Then it all comes together at one time. Good luck...there's LOTS of garden diy info here and on Pinterest.

  • Anna Erishkigal Anna Erishkigal on Jun 06, 2014
    With a tight budget, the first thing you should do is figure out which direction the sun comes from and then, along the opposite border, plant a row of easy-to-maintain fruit trees seedlings. They will take many years to produce fruit, but in the meantime they flower and are pretty. Research your local extension to find out what fruit trees grow best in your area with the least amount of maintenance. You want to plant your fruit trees where they won't shade the rest of your yard until you figure out what to do with it. I grow MacIntosh apples, red delicious, seckel pairs, pie cherries and black walnuts pretty successfully where I am. My apricots and peaches, however, have always languished because it's kinda cold where I live, but if you live someplace warmer, you don't need to BUY fruit trees. Simply go to your local farmer's market and buy the biggest, juiciest peaches/plums/nectarines/apricots you can find, eat them, and then plant the seeds. Unlike apples/pears/cherries, these trees are grown from pits (not grafted). Big fruit trees will cost you, but you can buy the little 1-2 year seedlings pretty cheap if you're patient. The second thing I would do is stake out the second-most sunny area for your vegetable garden. With worries about pesticides, herbicides and GMOs in our food supply, not to mention price fluctuations, it's always good to have a place to grow some food. Your vegetable garden can be simple rows in the dirt, or you can enclose it in a beautiful picket fence and create raised beds. Use found items to create sculptures you can use as bean poles and meander your paths and leave room for a little table and chair to sit and enjoy your garden while you water it. Be sure to plant the '3 sacred roots.' Rhubarb, asparagus and horseradish. These are perennial and will keep giving you goodies for decades. Rhubarb is pretty and can be decorative. Asparagus is leggy-looking, so you'll want to put it in a less visible place. The third thing I would do is stake out the area closest to your house for a stone patio. This will cost you a chunk of change to buy stone or pavers, but you can do most of the work yourself. Or ... you could build a deck. But if you've got it staked out, you can avoid duplicating work and, for now, stick out your grill and an inexpensive patio set or picnic table to enjoy. The fourth thing I would do is stake out a future grape arbor. If your patio will be in a sunny spot, you can kill two birds with one stone. If not, pick a sunny spot someplace further in the yard. If you've got it staked out, you can plant grapes now on temporary supports The last thing I would do (now that you know where you DON'T want to plant decorative plants) is put out a plea amongst your family and friends for cuttings of various plants. Forsythia: those yellow-flowering spring bushes - take cuttings and dip them in root hormone. Grow like crazy to make a hedge. Japanese Red Maple - this is the time of year when the little helicopter seeds sprouted from last fall are sprouting in the lawn. Find a friend who has one and go scrounge around their tree for the seedlings before the lawnmower gets them. These grow beautifully. I've got about a dozen of them I rescued in a pot to give to friends. Hosta: these benefit from being divided every few years. Offer to help a friend weed out their hosta patch in exchange for letting you divide and take some. Love shade. Tall Bearded Iris's ... ditto. Love sun. Day lillies - ditto. Love sun. Lily of the valley - ditto. Love shade. Lilacs - if you have a friend with a lilac hedge, often it will have 'suckers' (parts of the bush which take root nearby). Dig out the sucker and sever the connecting root, plant it someplace fertile and water the heck out of it. Will take 4-5 years to flower, but you'll have free lilac bushes. Boxwood - ditto. Yucca - these can be divided and are impossible to kill. They can become invasive if you plant them someplace and then want to move them later, so make sure it's a permanent home where you can keep them contained. They do well near a road that gets salted a lot or crappy soil. I could keep going on, but hopefully this will give you ideas of where to scrounge up useful and free stuff so you can stretch your budget further on the big-ticket items (like a patio).

  • Linda Tasa Linda Tasa on Jun 06, 2014
    Get some gardening books and look at ideas for different gardens. What appeals to you. You will need to measure the area, & make a plan on a piece of paper, also consider the amount of sun that area gets, because plants require certain amount to determine if you need shade plants or full sun ones, also look at tree types as well, should you want to make shade. Make a picture board of the plants and rocks etc, check out cost for what you'll require.....then you start digging.PS Remember there are Horticultural groups, you might want to join, they have all kinds of plants in their gardens, that will usually cost you less than at green houses.

  • Melissa Leach Melissa Leach on Jun 06, 2014
    Lucky you, you have an open slate to work with. Figure out your needs and interests. Start with a small project and build around it as time and money are available. Good luck!!!

  • Stephanie Pyeatt Cripe Stephanie Pyeatt Cripe on Jun 06, 2014
    I think it looks like a great place to get a game of croquet going...ENJOY!!;0

  • Buster Evans Buster Evans on Jun 06, 2014
    It looks like a very large area... do you have children that play in the yard? If you want to design it for adult use there is always a fire pit, seating area, fish ponds are very relaxing... a small area for veggies? Flowers galore ... this blank canvas is wonderful.. you can start out small with seeds and add a little to the flower garden each year as you find things you like... its always fun to get a plant from a friend to add to your garden as a memento / remberance of their friendship... A lot of my flowers are from friends, and they just about all have their own story!... Bird bath with a flower bed around it... Ornamental grasses... THe list goes on and on... but Let your imagination and likes guide you.

  • Therese C Therese C on Jun 06, 2014
    Just a quick & inexpensive idea. This is very pretty when built north to south to allow te sun through it. This can be built out of pallet boards or cheap lumber, plexiglass, and paint. I built one for my sister's yard and it took only about 3 hours to build. Good luck and post pictures when done with whatever you decide to do!

  • Kc Nordquist Kc Nordquist on Jun 09, 2014
    It depends on how much time you want to spend on maintenance, and how much you like to grow food. I would do the fruit tree idea. In our neck of the woods (Seattle) now is the time for planting fruit trees, in another couple of weeks they'll have the last of the trees available at a discount. Perhaps make some raised beds for vegetables and melons? Don't scatter them around, make definite areas: trees in one area, group beds in another area. Find an area for a rock bed, try craigslist for rock (free) and the -patio furniture. Put out a patio table and some lawn chairs for another area: easy to find this time of year in thrift stores or garage sales. You are so lucky to have a level large yard! Don't forget a hammock...

  • Deborah Deborah on Jun 11, 2014
    I separate a yard into "rooms", playroom, sitting room, dining room...with pea gravel paths and the base. Use pots and garden art besides plantings to define edges.

    Look up 'labyrinth' on Google. You can make a walking/meditation path from scrap pavers, stones...even weed-wack the design. I built my raised bed garden with room in-between the beds to have one. They're beautiful, amazing and have a purpose.

  • Katy Katy on Jul 07, 2014
    I would start by going to your local recycling center or your dump...Many people doing new projects in the yards remove many different things like rocks, bricks, lannon stone to make garden edging and even old garden art just to name a few things I get for free.....a nice potting shed would be nice too...

  • Sharon Sharon on Oct 06, 2021

    First is this for just you, a couple, or a family with kids..... cause that would make a huge difference in the plan.

    1. Being single, I chose a chaise lounge and some extra adirondak chairs for visiting friends, and some end tables. Then I have large potted plants for interest. I used to have a large umbrella, but being windy here it kept blowing away. I also have a large BBQ.
    2. For couples, I would say an outside living room would be appropriate for after work, and having friends over. A fire pit would be nice, and certainly a BBQ area for entertaining.
    3. For family with kids, I would add kiddy pool, a volleyball set up for family play. You could even add a paver area for hop scotch or basketball, chalk drawing.

    If your area is buggy, you might consider getting one of those canopy screened in areas for sitting when the bugs are out.