12 Backyard Updates You Can Do in a Day

By:Anja Sonnenberg - July 13, 2017


Whether you’re looking to increase storage space, expand your patio, or add interest to your garden, upgrading your backyard can be as fast and easy as an afternoon of labor. Find inspiration with these budget-friendly backyard projects that can be completed in a day.

1. Build Trellis

Bringing lush greenery to a space-starved backyard is as easy as building and staining a DIY trellis, then planting some climbing vines. This bit of garden ingenuity allows plants to grow up instead of out, allowing you to conserve valuable outdoor space but still enjoy a verdant retreat.

2. Pour a Patio

Don’t confine yourself to a tiny patio space. With a few tools and a bag of concrete mix, you can quickly and easily extend your outdoor room by adding a fresh concrete slab. To create a safe, skid-resistant finish, gently brush a broom over the concrete once it has lost its sheen.

3. Add Color to Concrete Patio

This clever idea transforms a bland patio into a fun and modern outdoor hangout. Just see how a pop of color adds personality to an otherwise underwhelming backdrop! Spray-paint a few concrete patio tiles in the colors of your choice, and don't be afraid to switch up the colors next season.

4. Piece Together a Prefab Shed

Storage shortage is a common conundrum inside and outside the home, but here's a fast fix that builds in extra space in a hurry. A small garden shed is perfect for sheltering your lawn mower, garden equipment, and off-season items. With so many prefab sheds on the market and available for pickup at your local home center, this DIY addition is as easy as an afternoon's worth of work.

5. Assemble Together a Plant Pot Fountain

The tranquil sound of running water adds a special atmosphere to any backyard. To turn your outdoor space into a Zen sanctuary, consider installing a DIY garden fountain. This three-tiered version is made from repurposed planter pots—an idea so easy and versatile that it can be modified to fit any yard. All you need to build this fountain project is a small pump, 1/2-inch hose, a drill, rocks, and a little bit of time!

6. Give Your Garden Some Edge

Garden edging helps to define the border between the flower bed and the lawn, and prevents soil erosion in a sloped garden bed. There are many edging materials to try, including concrete, wire, bricks, or stones, and all can be installed in an afternoon. For an eco-friendly take on edging, try this whimsical wine bottle project. The colorful glass reflects the sunshine while creating a unique look for a stand-out garden.

7. Create Shade with Curtains

While a sunny backyard is an asset, the west-facing deck or patio may soak up more rays than your party guests can handle. To keep the cookout going, consider this budget-friendly shade solution that doubles as a privacy screen. For a festive touch, you can hang patio lights on the posts to illuminate the night. Be sure to anchor the metal posts firmly into the ground before hanging anything.

8. Erecta  Cinder Block Bar with Palnter

Convenient but a little austere, this cinder-block bar is softened by succulents planted in the holes of the blocks. (Chicken wire and landscape fabric support the soil and plants.) Before building your own backyard bar, plan your dimensions and location, then join everything together with concrete adhesive. For a rustic finishing touch, stained wooden boards serve as the bar top.

9. Construct Cinder Block Bench

If you have 20 minutes, then you have enough time to build this outdoor bench for your patio. In fact, it may take longer to purchase the materials than to put them together! The sturdy seat consists of wooden posts that have been slid through the holes in the cinder blocks. Colorful cushions enhance comfort and liven up this utilitarian bench.

10. Raise Up a Garden

Raised garden beds make gardening easier and more successful: They prevent soil compaction and provide good drainage, and the structure helps keep pests and weeds to a minimum. If you’re planning on growing any edible plants, don't build your bed with pressure-treated lumber, which is impregnated with harsh chemicals. Instead, opt for a rot-resistant hardwood like cedar.

11. Build a Sandbox with Seating

This DIY kid's sandbox is made parent-friendly (and cat-proof) by the addition of built-in seats that fold to cover the box when not in use. The smart design prevents leaves and debris—as well as local wildlife—from entering the sandbox, and the seats provide a comfortable place for both kids and adults to perch.

12. Decorate with Plants and Old Tires

When it's time to select new planters for an outdoor container garden, the options are endless, but they can set you back a pretty penny. Save your money for the plants themselves by recycling old tires into whimsical planters instead of buying store-bought containers. Use chicken wire and landscape fabric to cover the hole at the base of the tire, then paint and stack your colorful new planters, or arrange them throughout your yard for a playful display.