How to Create Your Dream Backyard on a Budget

Summer has arrived, and your number one priority might be giving your backyard or other outdoor space a party-perfect makeover. We chatted with DIY and design experts Ben and Erin Napier to provide brilliant tips on how to make a dreamy outdoor space on the cheap. Ben and Erin approach their projects with a realistic and relatable point of view, because they want you to succeed without having to sacrifice. All of their projects are attainable — even by the newbiest of newbies. And what's better than that?

Here are some of their best pearls of outdoor DIY wisdom.

Start With Seating and Lighting

If you're planning on hosting a summer soiree, you need the right seating and the right ambience to make it memorable. Erin Napier told us that she and Ben prefer to entertain at night, since it gets so hot during the day where they live. She also suggested stringing party lights around the yard to create a magical setting. For additional seating and decor, "pull things from inside the house into the backyard. Bring rugs and lamps and the dinner table outside, and it makes great décor. Just make sure to bring them back inside before it rains!" Erin said.

Unfortunately, since mosquitoes and summer typically go hand in hand, do what you can to keep those pests away. Erin suggests going with citronella plants over the typical candles and sprays." If you can find citronella plants, buy all they have! Put them in pots and they keep away mosquitoes and bugs. Plants do an awesome job keeping bugs away naturally, and they are just as good as candles. You just need to have them strategically placed around your yard," she said. You can find these at Home Depot, or any major garden center.

Just be careful if you're a dog owner, as they can be toxic to dogs.

3 Yard Decor Choices Even the Pros Worry About

When it comes to DIYing, mistakes are part of the journey. But to avoid any missteps that can easily destroy your budget, Ben and Erin recommend being cautious in three areas: Lawn furniture, paint for your porch, and flowers.

When asked what people typically overspend on, Ben told us, "Lawn furniture that’s not going to hold up and be durable. Be sure to look for metal that can be used year after year with a metal-bonding paint." 

Speaking of paint, don't waste your money on latex paint for your porch. Erin said, "Painting a porch with latex paint is a bad idea. You'll need to redo it because it doesn't hide scratches. Only use old-ace enamel paint because will hold up for a few years."

As for flowers, Erin is all about perennials. "They bloom all year long, even in colder months, whereas annuals need to be replanted."

When it comes to lawn care, Ben reminds us that timing is everything. "It gets so hot in Mississippi, people water and mow their yards in brutal heat during the afternoon, which does more harm than good. Do the mowing and watering in the early morning, and cut your yard a little taller in order to create shade for the roots and allow for more water to be absorbed."

Must-Have Tools

Not all tools are created equal, so make sure you have the right ones in your toolbox before you start redecorating. Ben's three must-haves are a drill, a hammer, and a pair of pliers. Erin added, "And a caulk gun. That's worth spending money on. Tape measures are a must, too. We seem to have thousands of them." 

And in terms of splurging on the right tools, if you have a little wiggle room in your budget, and plan to do more DIY projects in the future, Ben recommends getting a skill saw, a miter saw, and a table saw.

For more of Ben and Erin's home improvement tips, and some brilliant how-to videos, be sure to check out their blog at They update it every day with more fun and creative ideas.

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Want to give your backyard a budget makeover? We’ve got some great cheap DIY ideas to turn your garden into a fun and awesome space for those summer barbecues and get togethers. | #backyard  #DIYproject #homeimprovement

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I found the blatant product placement in this piece really off-putting, but the first half seemed to be useful tips without an obvious agenda.