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Tuesday, June 1, 2021

$200 Backyard Update: Budget-Friendly Tips to Update Your Home's Exterior

Budget-friendly backyard update and inexpensive tips to help spruce up the outside of your house for less! 

This backyard project was WAY overdue!

FIVE years overdue. 

We included a back door when we built the garage, which led to absolutely nothing once the garage was complete and the yard was graded.

I finally got fed up with the unusable entrance, rotting trim and moldy door that I set out to give the back entrance a budget-friendly makeover.  I joked on Instagram that this exterior update wasn't about perfection.  It was about updating the backyard as cheap as possible, so it was no longer an eyesore for my wonderful neighbors.  

Outdoor budget-friendly makeover

Let's back up and start from the beginning.  

We built the deck before adding the garage/kitchen addition so when the garage was built the back door led to nowhere, literally.

House before with carport

Backyard before
There were no steps, little grass, the trim around the door was beginning to rot, the door needed to be painted and it was becoming a dumping ground.  We have amazing neighbors behind us and I was starting to feel bad that they had an unpleasant view from their front door/driveway.  
Outdoor backyard before



Paint is by far my favorite budget-friendly way to make the biggest impact for less.  It takes minimal skill, is a fairly quick project and is perfect for doing yourself.  

Fortunately, I was able to use leftover paint and supplies to repair, paint and completely transform the exterior garage door and trim.   I sanded off the loose and chipping paint, filled in damaged areas with wood filler, wiped everything clean then gave the trim two coats of white exterior paint and the door two coats of Iron Ore. 

Exterior door before


Being handy is definitely a bonus and helps keep project costs down.  If projects are above your skill level then consider doing what you can and have a professional complete the rest.  You will considerably cut labor costs by prepping, starting and reducing the amount of work required by a professional. 

Luckily, the backyard project I tackled was easy and didn't require outside help.  We did have our landscape guy add stones and mulch, but they edge, trim bushes and mulch for us every year.  He didn't charge us for the stones, so I'm considering that part of our annual yard maintenance.   

We choose to pay to have someone do our exterior spring clean-up (he is a friend and owns a local landscape company, so we like to support him), but this can absolutely be done yourself. 

Adding mulch and stones

The biggest expense of this entire outdoor project (HOLY COST OF WOOD!!!) was buying two 3 step stair stingers and two pressure-treated boards.  This easily ate up half of the project cost.  

We cut the boards and my handy and always helpful ten-year-old leveled the stair stringers and attached the stair treads.  (We didn't attach the steps to the exterior wall because we were going for easy and we aren't sure this is a permanent update.) 

Dividing and transplanting outdoor plants


Buying new plants is expensive and can quickly blow your budget.  Consider dividing and using perennial plants that you already have planted around your home. 

For this budget-friendly outdoor project, we divided grasses from around the shed and deck and transplanted them around the new stairs.  It was completely free and ties in with the rest of the outdoor landscaping. 

Divide and transplant outdoor plants

Other common perennial plants great for dividing and transplanting are Hostas, Ivy, Lambs Ear, Bleeding Heart, Aster, Iris, Yarrow and Liripie among many others.   

Power wash deck after


We bought stair stingers and pressure-treated wood for the stair treads, but we were able to use leftover wood (from previous house projects) for the risers.  I was also able to use leftover paint, stain and sealer, which helped keep material costs down. 

A great way to save on fixtures is to update and use the ones you have.  Spray paint can do wonders in transforming something old into something new with little cost and effort.   Shopping at your local Habitat Restore, auctions or thrift stores for used building supplies is another great way to save on material costs. 

I did spend money on a new exterior light simply because the old one was the only light left that didn't match the rest of the house.   

Building exterior steps

Painted outdoor door and stairs


Power washing can instantly make something that's dirty, dingy and moldy look brand new again.  Hiring someone to power wash the exterior of your home can be expensive though, so consider doing it yourself.  Don't have a power washer?  Ask family, a friend or a neighbor if you can borrow theirs or consider renting one for the day from a local rental company.  Power washing provides instant gratification and just like paint, dramatically updates and transforms anything it touches.  

I bought this one a few years ago and we use it multiple times a month to clean the house, cars and dirt bikes.   
Before and after power washed deck steps
I really wanted to wait another week or so to give the transplanted grasses time to grow, but the Cicada's had a different agenda.  They were climbing all over the grasses and shells were taking over the new mulch.  So, just pretend the new plants look lush and green, okay?

Budget-friendly outdoor makeover after

$200 backyard update after

Budget-friendly backyard update

$200 backyard update

Every time I walk outside to water the plants I say, "I can't believe I didn't do this sooner."  It's crazy how much a little paint and manual labor can update and transform a space. 

How to update your homes exterior for less

Budget-friendly outdoor makeover for less

And what makeover would be complete without a little before and after side by side? 
Budget-friendly outdoor makeover before and after

Budget-friendly outdoor makeover before and after

Do you want to know the cost breakdown of the budget-friendly outdoor makeover?  I've listed all the materials, supplies and costs below!

outdoor update cost breakdown
Affiliate links have been used 

1. Pressure treated 3 step stair stringer, $21.98 x (2)
2. Pressure treated 2" x 6', $20.48 x (2)
3. Iron Ore paint for the door, $0 (used leftover paint)
4. Exterior primer and paint, $0 (used leftover paint) 
5. Stain for stair treads, $0 (used leftover stain) 
6. Water-based poly in matte, $0 (used leftover poly)
8. Mulch and pavers, $25 
9. Plants, $0 (divided plants from the yard)
10. Outdoor light, $55


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Would you like to comment?

  1. Looks soo good! Bet your neighbors love it, too!


  3. Looks so good! Nice work.

  4. Love the transformation! Nice work.