Backyard Ideas on a Budget: Our $160 DIY Patio Makeover

Posted in DIY, DIY & Recipes
on April 15, 2020

If you click a link in this post and make a purchase, we may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Read our full disclosure here.

Looking for backyard ideas on a budget? Here’s how I turned our sad patio from drab to fab for only $160 total.

We’ve been living in our house for almost 10 years now and we’ve never done anything with the old patio area in our backyard. 

Well, I finally got us something we’ve been wanting for a LONG time for Christmas – an inflatable hot tub for the backyard – and it was time to makeover the patio next to it. 

If you are looking for backyard ideas on a budget you will love this post on how I gave the patio area a total rehab for $160!

I’ll walk you through each step in this post to give you inspiration for your own cheap outdoor living space.

Backyard Ideas on a Budget: Our Sad Patio Before

Well, here is what we were working with. It is a neglected patio area with part of the concrete overgrown with weeds and partially deteriorated. The front part of the pad is 6 ft by 8 foot. 

It clearly backs up to our not-so-nice-to-look-at heat pump unit. And our house that badly needed power washed! Yikes…

My first thought was that I wanted to block the ugly view of our heat pump but wasn’t sure the best way to do that. 

I also had to decide what to do about the cracking ugly concrete.

Last, we wanted something to hang our towels on that was close to the hot tub. We had been throwing them onto a plastic chair but that wasn’t a great solution for long term. 

Here are the chairs we had been using. They are about 5 years old but still in great shape. 

Now on to how we tackled these problems and the solutions we came up with!

Backyard Ideas on a Budget: Wooden Bench and Panel

First I tried to figure out some way to block the view of the heat pump. The ground couldn’t take a fence post because there are power lines running underground and there are remnants of the old concrete. 

So I needed something free standing to block the view. I came up with the idea of attaching a fence panel to the back of some bench type thing after spending way too long on Pinterest. 

I wanted to create something like the planter/bench/screen combo pictured above. 

Together my husband and I decided a full bench seat would be a lot easier than the planter/bench combo. 

I picked up 6 pieces of 2 x 4 x 8 ft pressured treated lumber for the seat and one 6 x 6 x 8 ft post from Home Depot.

We decided that the 6 x 6 was overkill and that a 4 x 4 would have been MUCH easier to work with! I recommend that if you try this project.

We built this basic 8 foot long bench in place there on the patio. The main consideration was to make all of the back side flat so we could attach the fence panel. 

Here is my attempt at a rudimentary plan for the bench. I apologize if it is difficult to use – I’ve never drawn a plan before!

At the very least it will give you the cuts for the 2x4s.  

I considered a bunch of different materials for the screen portion but we ended up going with this Pressure Treated Fence Panel from Home Depot.

It fit the bill perfectly and only cost about $40. We ordered it online and picked it up in the store. 

Then we screwed the fence panel to the back of the bench. This meant we didn’t have to dig into the ground at all and the panel is free standing. 

Another plus is that we can move it if needed at some point! I was super happy with how to bench seat and screen turned out. 

Here’s what I recommend for the project. 

Pressure Treated Wood For the bench seat & posts: 

  • Six 2 x 6 x 8 ft boards = $33.42
  • One 4 x 4 x 8 ft post = $6.77
  • One 6 ft x 8 ft fence panel = $41.47

TOTAL = $81.66

Any benches we looked at buying started at about $200, so building one was definitely he way to go.

How To Cover Ugly Concrete

I considered trying to repair the concrete, but decided that was going to cost too much money and be too challenging for me. 

So the alternative was to cover it up. I first tried an outdoor rug from target, but it was way too flimsy and ugly. 

 

Then I found this amazing patio mat from Bed Bath & Beyond.

It is colorful and made of a super sturdy plastic weave. It almost feels like it is made of recycled grocery bags!

 

And I was able to get it on sale for only $16.79. It was on sale and I got a 20% off coupon by signing up for emails. 

It was definitely the cheapest solution for covering the ugly concrete. It turns out is also super easy to sweep and keep clean. 

Here’s what I spent covering the concrete: 

Outdoor Patio Mat = $16.79

DIY Free Standing Post With Towel Hook

We had been throwing our towels onto the chairs when we used the hot tub but I wanted a better solution for getting to our towels. 

I saw some free-standing posts in planters and buckets on Pinterest and thought that might be a good solution. 

I bought two bags of concrete and used some old flower pots we had lying around for the base. After we poured the concrete in I topped them with about an inch of gravel we already had as well to make them look a bit nicer. 

The posts were 4 x 4 x 8 ft pressure treated lumber. I think they were the perfect size for this. I screwed a towel hook on that I had leftover from some bathroom work we had done. 

Overall I was super happy with how the posts turned out. The only thing I’d do differentlty is to use pots with a flat base. Mine (since they were old and plenty used) have warped bottoms. This makes it hard for them to sit securely on the ground and they are a bit wobbly. 

I’d buy a new container for cheap if I were to do this again. 

Here’s what we spent on the free-standing posts: 

  • Two bags of concrete from Home Depot: $5.48
  • Two 4 x 4 x 8 ft posts = $13.54

TOTAL: $19.02

Backyard Ideas on a Budget: Finishing Touches

At this point we were on to the finishing touches for the patio. 

I could have left the chairs the red color they were but for less than $8 and about an hour of time I got gorgeous turquoise chairs that matched the patio mat perfectly. 

I used two cans of this Rust-Oleum Satin Seaside spray paint and it was just enough to cover the two chairs. 

We realized that we would need something to walk on to get to the hot tub to keep our feet clean. So I bought six stepping stones from Home Depot for $1.58 each and have temporarily set them down. 

At some point I may add some edging and gravel around them but they work fine the way there are for now. The need the weeds trimmed around them in the meantime!

backyard ideas on a budget string lights

The final touches were string lights and a few outdoor throw pillows. 

I am obsessed with string lights and searched high and low for a set that was affordable and would run all of the way around our little patio areas. 

Target came through for me in the end withthese Room Essentials 20 count Outdoor String Lights.

Two sets of them went all of the way around the 6 ft by 8 ft patio area perfectly. I affixed them with a heavy duty staple gun and ran an extension cord up the back of the fence panel to plug them in. 


I was also able to get them on sale for only $15.63 for BOTH sets of lights! I caught them on sale but even at their regular price of $12 per stand they are much cheaper than other similar sets of lights. 

I was very careful stringing them up since I had read on the reviews they are pretty fragile. But I am happy to report I had not a single bulb break or not work – even after they’ve been through a few storms here!

The last thing I added were two $5 outdoor throw pillows from Walmart. 

Here’s what I spent on the finishing touches for the backyard patio area: 

  • Two sets of Outdoor String Lights = $15.63
  • Two cans of turquoise spray paint  = $7.96
  • Two outdoor throw pillow = $10.00
  • Six stepping stones = $9.48

TOTAL = $43.07

Backyard Makeover On A Budget Summary

complete patio makeover - backyard ideas on a budget

I absolutely love how our patio area turned out. I have been spending some time there every day lately. 

Here’s a breakdown of what we spent on everything for the backyard makeover: 

  • Six 2 x 6 x 8 ft boards = $33.42
  • One 4 x 4 x 8 ft post = $6.77
  • One 6 ft x 8 ft fence panel = $41.47
  • Patio Mat = $16.79
  • Two bags of concrete from Home Depot = $5.48
  • Two 4 x 4 x 8 ft posts = $13.54
  • Two sets of Outdoor String Lights = $15.63
  • Two cans of turquoise spray paint  = $7.96
  • Two outdoor throw pillow = $10.00
  • Six stepping stones = $9.48

GRAND TOTAL: $160.54

I wanted to stay under $200 for this project so am happy to report it stayed well under budget.

I am so glad I decided to DIY this instead of having someone pour me a new concrete pad, for example. That alone would have cost close to the price of the entire makeover!

I hope this post gave you lots of backyard ideas on a budget.

Any questions? Please leave a comment below or send me a message on The Frugal South’s Facebook page

Backyard Ideas on a Budget: Our $160 DIY Patio Makeover

13 Comments

  • Judy

    Fantastic job!!! You did great and it looks wonderful, very fun and inviting! You talked about the post pots being a bit wobbly and if you were to do it again, you would get new pots. I say get new fun summer bright pots and just drop these pot inside them! Maybe drill a drain hole if you don’t want to empty out after rain.

    May 20, 2020 at 5:55 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Great idea, Judy!

      May 21, 2020 at 8:04 am Reply
  • Patty Bruce

    great job with the imagination. Only thing different I would do to spruce it up is to put your 4×4 posts in there pots into homemade wooden planters boxes and add some flowers to it.

    May 20, 2020 at 5:30 pm Reply
    • Leah

      I agree, that would look amazing Patty!

      May 21, 2020 at 8:05 am Reply
  • Donna

    Nice job! looks great! I think the only thing I might have considered doing differently would have been to use 2 X 4s in the pots, rather than 4 X 4 posts. Those things weigh a ton and might be more prone to topple over since they aren’t in the ground. Since there is no weight on the posts, except for lights and the occasional towel, 2 X 4s might have been fine. But, that’s just a thought, and you did a wonderful job on a small budget. Is the paint holding up well on the plastic chairs? I’ve never used the spray paint made to use on plastic and just wondered if will hold up. I’ve thought about painting some of my large plastic outdoor flower pots with it.

    May 20, 2020 at 3:52 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Donna! I agree – 2x4s would have been fine in the pots for sure. I am impressed with how well the spray painted chairs are holding up. The 2x Rustoleum paint is amazing. It covers anything and it lasts.

      May 20, 2020 at 4:29 pm Reply
  • Lauretta C Gardner

    I would love the plans for the bench, I need addtl seating on my deck, Thanks.

    May 20, 2020 at 2:46 pm Reply
  • Laura

    Hi! I LOVE this project and have a very similar area that I need to fix. The bench and fence panel is a brilliant idea. Can you post or send the plans for the bench?

    May 20, 2020 at 9:40 am Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Laura! Yes, I will get on that and try to have it updated in the next day or so.

      May 20, 2020 at 2:03 pm Reply
  • Sara Thompson

    i am interested in the inflatable hot tub, where you purchased and how well it is working. What kind of electrical wiring required? thank you

    May 20, 2020 at 8:49 am Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Sara! I bought the hot tub at Target on sale for $425 last Black Friday. I just checked and it appears they are sold out. It is a SaluSpa Hawaii. We absolutely LOVE it. You plug it into a standard plug – we have a heavy duty extension cord run from the house. It stays super hot and has nice bubbles. Our only complaint is that it occasionally turns off by itself so it needs checked every day or so.

      May 20, 2020 at 9:17 am Reply
  • Diane Romano

    It looks great. Very clever idea with the fence and bench. Did you reinforce the fence into the ground or add any support system to the back of the fence even though it’s attached to the bench?

    May 20, 2020 at 7:31 am Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Diane! The fence isn’t connected to the ground in any way. The only thing my husband has added since I posted this was one 2×4 along one side of the fence connected to the bench. One side was a bit floppy for some reason and he shirred it up.

      May 20, 2020 at 8:09 am Reply

    Leave a Reply

    You may also like


    Privacy Policy | Disclosure Policy | Contact Me