Backyard ideas on a budget – create the ultimate outdoor retreat for less

These clever backyard ideas on a budget will help you create a beautiful space without skimping on style or quality

Backyard ideas on a budget, with raised vegetable beds, a gravel walkway and square paved patio area with bench seating.
(Image credit: Grit and Polish)

Are you searching for backyard ideas on a budget? You are not alone. For anyone who lives in a metropolitan flat or tiny cottage, a backyard seems like a luxury – one that requires time, energy, and, above all else, money to maintain. 

But, while an outdoor space is a great bonus to any beautiful home, it doesn’t have to cost you a small fortune. 

Need proof? Have a look at these innovative yet cheap backyard ideas, all of which are beautiful too. Turns out, all you really need to have a gorgeous garden space is time, elbow grease and some creativity.

Backyard ideas on a budget

Our beautiful but cheap backyard ideas will inspire you to update your space and create your ideal outdoor retreat, whatever your style and budget.

1. Create a vegetable garden

Two raised flower beds and a small back shed illustrating backyard ideas on a budget.

(Image credit: Rocky Hedge Farm)

If you’re looking for a budget-conscious backyard idea that will also allow you to save money on your grocery bill, consider adding some raised garden beds to your space.

The beauty of raised beds is that they can be tailored to your specific size requirements, meaning that a vegetable garden can be fitted into even awkwardly shaped spaces and easily integrated into small backyard ideas.

Sarah Blankenship, the blogger behind Rocky Hedge Farm, created several in her yard with a few wooden planks. Once you’ve constructed the raised beds, fill each one with soil and seeds for a homemade vegetable garden.

2. Add an arbor

A white arbor and picket fence around a vegetable garden with raised beds to demonstrate cheap backyard ideas.

(Image credit: Farmhouse on Boone)

Another way to dress up your backyard is with an arbor, perhaps incorporated into your garden fence ideas like in this yard's design. This garden detail can add a whimsical charm to your garden, plus it might discourage critters and nosy neighbors from infiltrating your space. 

An arbor might look like a fancy feature, but Lisa Bass from Farmhouse on Boone proves it can be an affordable undertaking. Once you invest in a drill and saw, all you need is some planks of wood, screws, and a fresh coat of paint.

3. Add interest to your patio – on a budget

A black and white patterned patio space with Morrocan-style furniture including a tasselled umbrella, pouffe and pink, orange and blue soft furnishings.

(Image credit: Hayley Stuart)

Whether you’re curling up with a good book, enjoying a meal al fresco, or simply admiring your garden, a patio never fails to offer an excellent vantage point. But, if you're looking for some fresh patio ideas, consider stenciling a cool design on the floor. 

Not only is this an easy project that can be completed in a weekend, but it can also be done for a fair, affordable price. Let blogger Hayley Stuart show you how it’s done.

4. Build your deck from the ground up

Decking as an example of backyard ideas on a budget, with outdoor lighting and rattan furniture with gray, cream and pink accents

(Image credit: I Spy DIY)

Or, if you don’t have a deck or patio in your backyard, you can always build one from scratch. 

Admittedly, this budget-friendly backyard requires time and a close attention to detail. In fact, levelling a sloped backyard can take a few days. But, as this final product from home decor blog I Spy DIY proves, the results are so worth it.

5. Give your small garden the textured treatment

Backyard ideas on a budget, with a gravel yard, raised vegetable beds, a patio area and bench seating.

(Image credit: The Grit and Polish)

Want to make a patio from scratch, but not willing to put in that much elbow grease? This patio refresh from the Grit and Polish offers the best of both worlds, making it the perfect backyard idea on a budget.

Here, husband-wife duo Garrett and Cathy used pea gravel to landscape a backyard with visual and textural distinction from the rest of their grassy plot. For a makeshift patio, the couple covered a portion of the gravel with large pavers.

6. Make a splash with a stock pool

A round black pool with decked steps in a small concrete and decked backyard, demonstrating backyard ideas on a budget.

(Image credit: Emerson Grey Designs)

Pool ideas offer endless fun and for many they are a backyard staple. However, building a pool can get expensive. If you’re looking to make a splash for less, add a stock pool a la Bri Moysa of Emerson Grey Designs

The designer accessorized a stock tank with homemade steps, tropical plants, and a fresh coat of black paint to make it feel like an intentional addition to the backyard, not an afterthought.

7. Introduce solar garden lighting 

Backyard ideas on a budget illustrated by solar powered outdoor lighting over a concrete patio with small planter pot, and a lawn and bushes behind.

(Image credit: Sugar Maple Notes)

A few strands of twinkling lights are an easy, affordable way to add some style to your backyard. But, unless you have a few trees to hang them from, you might be out of luck. 

Fortunately, this idea from Sugar Maple Notes is a good one, creating clever backyard ideas on a budget by using a planter as a base for a post to drape string lights from. Not only aesthetically pleasing, solar garden lighting ideas will also save energy and keep costs down.

'Our DIY planter posts project is so simple, yet makes a big impact in our backyard,' explains blogger Sarah Harmsen. 'The string lights add just the right amount of twinkle to our patio – much needed for summer evenings on the porch.' 

8. Set up a spot for outdoor lounging – and garden shade

Backyard ideas on a budget, with a red and white fabric draped over posts to create a shaded spot beside a stone pool, with a hilly backdrop.

(Image credit: Future)

A cooling spot for relaxing, entertaining or designed purely as a retreat will make your backyard a joy to use all day long. Think about a planning a shade garden that includes multi-sensory experiences of sight, sound and scent – all that's needed is some draping fabric, wooden posts and a bit of creativity.

If your budget allows, invest in a small pond or water fountain. The trickling water will feel cooling and add a relaxing soundscape to your sensory garden.

9. Enhance a sense of garden privacy

Backyard ideas on a budget incorporating privacy in the form of a black painted fence with wall mounted planters and bench seating in an urban yard.

(Image credit: Diana Elizabeth)

For a backyard ideas on a budget that are both affordable and space-efficient, consider decking out your privacy fence.   

'Because of the small footprint, we decided to use vertical garden ideas – and add plants in unique vessels on the fences,' explains Penny D. Francis, designer and owner of Eclectic Home

'Half -round brass wall vessels were perfect for the succulents. We created a planter made from white oak that extended the length of the fence that also doubled as a bench for guests.' 

The result? A small yard that doesn’t sacrifice style.

10. Defy gravity with a trellis 

A trellis all over a white wall, illustrating cheap backyard ideas.

(Image credit: Eclectic Home)

Speaking of your privacy fence, you can also spruce up often overlooked fence or garden walls with a DIY trellis. 

Blogger Diana Elizabeth used floral wire to create a diamond-shaped trellis on her wall, allowing her jasmine plants to reach new heights. It’s a budget-conscious idea that can appeal to all of the senses.

Contributing Editor

Kelsey Mulvey is a New York-born, San Francisco-based freelance journalist who covers lifestyle and design content. She started her writing career while studying magazine journalism at Boston University, where her work was syndicated by top digital publications like USA Today and MSN. Upon graduation, Kelsey covered lifestyle content The Wall Street Journal, Off Duty and Business Insider. In 2017, Kelsey started her freelance journalism career, where she contributes to design publications like AD PRO, Elle Decor, Wallpaper*, and more. W