My yard is so big and my budget is so small!!

Audra Bailey
by Audra Bailey
I have about 1.5 acres in my backyard and I just dont even know where to begin. Id like to fence off an area for the dogs, have a garden and a patio area with a firepit. I also have a rental property in the basement which exits through the backyard. Please any thoughts? I need to figure out a way to build a fence on the cheapest budget known to man also!
My exit is the top of the stairs. my tenants is underneath the stairs
i have a screened in porch on one sie of the house
looking out into my yard. very hilly and uneven
  18 answers
  • Patricia W Patricia W on Oct 08, 2013
    A fence is a good place to start. If you plan on constructing anything later you may want a large gate you can drive through to have landscape products delivered. Also for off street parking of your toys, if you have a boat, or whatever. I love your yard!! We also have a very large yard, lots of work to maintain.
  • Carole Carole on Oct 08, 2013
    Fencing is expensive whichever way you look at it. If you want it dog proof it needs to be at least 5 feet high and if your dogs dig - you might even need to sink part of it into the ground about a foot or so. Have you considered an invisible fence? There are companies that install a fence that will give a jolt if they try to cross it but not so bad as to cause harm to the dog. That way you keep your open vista whilst keeping your dogs from straying. Our friends are on 150 acres and they use this method to secure an area around the house for their border collies to stop them wandering. We are on 1/2 acre and we fenced only a quarter of our garden to keep our dog safe and contained and it cost us a fortune for chain link fence with treated pine posts. Chain link fencing is hard to scale and if you choose black, it blends with the landscape (surprisingly better than if you picked a dark green colour). If you garden has peaks and troughs, the fence will need to compensate for that as there could be areas where the dog could scramble over the fence if the ground is higher in some spots that others. We have this in one spot in our garden and the fencing guys had to put extra piece of chainlnk on top of that area to maintain the 5 feet height of the fence throughout. Anything lower and your dog could climb over it. I agree with Patricia W to think carefully about your needs going forward re access as once the fence is constructed it is a very expensive exercise if you have to re-do any part of it later. Another thing to consider is that if you build a physical fence - don't put any object close enough to the fence that the dog can use it as a leg up to scramble over the fence! Sounds obvious but I moved our compost bin yesterday and then realised - duh! Too close to the fence and could be used by an escape artist! Had to empty it and move it again and it was back breaking work!
  • Audra Bailey Audra Bailey on Oct 08, 2013
    Thanks ladies, im willing to do this a little bit at a time. I heard a way of making a fence using old pallets and chicken wire that I might give a try. Couldnt hurt right? I drew up a sketch of what Im thinking. Id love to hear your thoughts!
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    • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Oct 10, 2013
      @Audra Bailey I think you are on the right track. Very nice drawing by the way. You have a wonderful yard, sectioning off entertainment areas is also a good idea. You may want to have such an area around your fire pit. You could use old but large logs to create a seating area as well. For ease of maintenance you may want to use some form of gravel around that area as well, would help to define it and would add some fire safety as well. Don't forget to put a weed barrier down under the gravel or if you prefer sand. Another thing you could try is a geometric garden - something wavy or perhaps two triangles, at the back of your yard by that nice big tree you have back there. You could shop for some perennials in August when they are on sale, usually the bushes are on sale at the end of the season as well. Hit you friends up for slips of their perennials as well. I usually fill in two or three gardens per year for those just starting out. I even have bushes that need thinning as well. Here is a site you might be able get some ideas from Thanks for posting and do keep us updated, love to see the creativity people have for gardening :)
  • Connie Mar Connie Mar on Oct 09, 2013
    I've seen fences made from old pallets on Hometalk. You want to make sure the dogs still have lots of space to run, and shade/access to their dog houses and water. With a yard this big, it would be awesome to plant some fruit trees and bushes, and maybe even start a garden. I've seen gardens started with just debris from the yard (and neighbor yards, wood chips from utility company or tree trimmers) using the Hugelkutlur method - very economical! You might even be able to talk your tennants into helping, and they can enjoy the produce as well. You have so many options with a yard this big! Drawing out plans and deciding on plants based on sunlight and water needs is a great start. Not sure what your rainfall is like there, but we've had such severe drought for a number of years, a lot of trees and bushes are dying off. I've tried to replace some with low water bushes & perennials instead. It's hard to lose big trees, though!
  • Wallace Gardens Wallace Gardens on Oct 09, 2013
    Re an affordable fence for animals: how about a split rail with galvanized wire mesh? This link offers a "how to" install:
  • Wallace Gardens Wallace Gardens on Oct 09, 2013
    Raised planting boxes for a cutting garden and/or a kitchen garden located near the house is a great idea (easy access, easy care). The property looks beautiful . . . and I love the rolling hills with the historic trees. Creating garden spaces near the house makes good sense, and is more manageable. If you have a full sun patio, you may want to put a pergola over part of it, to provide some shade during the heat of the day, or an ornamental tree like a Japanese Maple. Do you have a place you can install an arbor for a climbing rose, perhaps along the walkway to the new patio? Last thought: forgot to mention using a climbing vine along the dog fence, using something that is free to wander across a long fence, unattended. Depending on your climate zone, there are probably several options - just check to make sure it isn't one of the poisonous vines if you use it for the dog fencing (for example, Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is a vigorous vine with beautiful fragrant yellow flowers, but all parts are poisonous).
  • At Home Depot they have wire fencing which is in 50' rolls about 32" tall I think for $24 each. chicken wire is more expensive and you will need a ton of pallets to make a fence. You can set up areas to attach the fence too and keep costs down. The steel posts for corners and small steel posts every 6 feet or so to keep fence up. We have had this fence up for 2 weeks now and our rambunctious Australian Shepherd and Jack/Fox stay in it. I will take pics when it stops raining of the wire fence.
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  • Sheryll S Sheryll S on Oct 09, 2013
    Personally, I would put the cheapest fence..... and what is cheap anyway? on my back perimeter (already have that) but it is only chain link and it is expensive too. Tell me when you find something actually not high in cost? Also, I would fence off the back exit to go to the front so the renters can exit and put a small walk in gate with padlock on it, for if you trust them to use your back yard......... I would not. I will never put a fence up to keep my fur babies from being with me at all times, but that is just me. Take a small corner at a time...... like I said back when ever that I would also do....... lol....... hope you do better than me.
  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on Oct 10, 2013
    You've already taken a big step, that sketch is a great plan. That's a lot of area to transform, so take it smaller bites, figure out your priorities, i.e. the fence. Get that done first, there are several examples of pallet fences on Hometalk with directions. Plus you can surf the web for other "budget" friendly ideas. We use the wire fencing C Renee mentioned which works very well for our Boston Terriers and Pittie.
  • Always check out your local home improvement store and the clearance rack for bargains. I You may also check out Craiglist or freecycle or any other site for people who put on their to dig up or come get their old plants. I would go for walks too and if you see someone with a beautiful plant and garden ASK them about the plant and ask if they would share. Always ask. I share if someone asks and many gardeners love to share and help! do not take cuttings or seeds from stores, parks, or other people even though you may hear that people do. I used to have someone sneak/ take my seed pods and this is wrong. I have also seen stores in my area ask for the seeds and cuttings back from people they see doing this.
  • Debby Boyle Debby Boyle on Oct 10, 2013
    Sounds like me, I just put beds around the house & planted tree in the yard. It would be way to much work to have the whole yard full of plants!!
  • Margaret Barclay Margaret Barclay on Oct 10, 2013
    @Audra Bailey What a magnificent backyard! First and foremost - one thing at a time. List your priorities - pick one high priced and one low priced to start. I would really consider a dog run until I could afford invisible fencing. That way the beautiful view wouldn't be hampered. Your can install it yourself - if you are willing to make a fence, this should be a piece of cake. Second, I would consider something that you could enjoy like the fire pit. Thirdly, I would join the local garden club (every area has one even my rural one horse town). We gardeners love to divide and share. Plants can be very expensive. Spend your money only on bushes and trees - things that are not easily procured from other gardeners. Finally your fence: It does not have to encompass the yard (way too big for that). It should serve as a 'backdrop' for the eye with a garden in front of it. Split rail works well for this. We did a 70' fence for about $400 and believe me 70' of garden is lots. Good luck and the way I tackle my 1 acre lot is to divide it in 6's - I do one 6th every year. Best wishes
  • Nancy Nancy on Oct 10, 2013
    Let the edges go back to forest and make some walking paths. Spring wild flowers will arrear after time. Stop mowing! :)
  • Tobey McCool Tobey McCool on Oct 10, 2013
    Check with the restore for fencing and put an add on kijiji or craigs list that your looking for fencing. Sometimes you might come across someone who is going from chain link to wood. I know the yard is large and it might seem overwhelming, just start with a bit at a time. It will all come together and you will have a beautiful yard. Get the word out to friends of the materials you need, they might know someone who has what you need. Good luck , love the drawing and your vision.
  • Jim Pack Jim Pack on Oct 10, 2013
    You might consider an electronic fence for the dogs. They sell them at Lows and Tractor Supply. They cost around $150.00 and work well in large yards. This would leave your yard open for what ever else you wanted to do with it.
  • Chris kirkham Chris kirkham on Oct 10, 2013
    check out pinterest-diy using pallets-makes a fence using a pallet for the post or can attach pallets to a post in the ground.
  • Tegma Tegma on Oct 10, 2013
    Your drawing is great, but it's all on the renter's side of the fence. Are you willing to share a patio and all with them, or are you looking for privacy?? If it's privacy you want, I think I would make a fence straight down the middle of the yard to the back.... from YOUR deck, out. That would leave the renter's with the deck area under your steps, so that they might have a grill etc. of their own. If they should have company, or you, both of you would have privacy that way. Make everything on your side of the fence whatever you want it to be.... and perhaps add some flowers etc. on their side. Later you could add to that as money is available, and you could have two lovely yards. The dogs can roam on your half, or you could make a dog run for them along the chain link fence. Find some companies in your area who have pallets to give away, and the only expense you'll have is concete to put the posts in the ground. With an acre and a half in just the back, two yards would not at all look chopped up! Each could have a back yard with 3/4 of an acre each. Most people don't have anywhere near that. Anyway, just my tho'ts! If your renter is family, that may or may not work out for one big yard with a fenced off area for the dogs. But, if not, you'd want to have some privacy, I think, and halving the yard would be the way to go!
  • Audra Bailey Audra Bailey on Oct 10, 2013
    Wow thank you all for your ideas and advice! I wanted to add that my drawing is all basically on my side of the property. There is a corner that i didnt really show thats dedicated for them cuz I definitley dont want to share my yard. Its family in there right now but who knows in a year or two. I will for sure look into climbing roses or something similar to that along the fence for the dog run and am putting an add on craigslist as we speak!!