DIY Backyard Overhaul: Maximize Your Outdoor Living Space on Budget

We always stick to a budget. So when it comes to landscaping we do most of it DIY. Over the years we've managed to balance out our smaller home's square footage by capitalizing on our outdoor living space.

This Summer 2022, we decided to reinvent the outdoors. Check out how we completed a total DIY Backyard Overhaul.

STEP 1: Figure out what inspires you. Our inspirations included:

· A beach, oasis theme

· Open "floor" plan

· Room for our family of 6 to dine

· Several areas for entertaining

· Cozy "living room" area


STEP 2: Determine your needs.

We’ve had backyard drainage issues for years. Puddling rain makes for a soggy, muddy, and unattractive mess. Blah.

Pea gravel helps remedy minor drainage issues. A few years back, we removed some of the lawn and created a pea gravel patio. During this overhaul, we opted to continue with the pea gravel throughout to help with the drainage issues (and set the vibe for the beach theme).

STEP 3: Make a playlist. Get your tools.

We believe music makes for a better work day. Put your favorite station on shuffle and start to think about the tools you’ll need. Click here for a list of tools we used.

STEP 4. Get to work - Remove the lawn.

- Lay landscape fabric.

- Scoop & dump the pea gravel.

- Rake and level the gravel. - Rinse off residual sand from the stone with your hose.

*Time & Hard work. This list simplifies this process - The Basics Pittsburgh will never lie! This project required of lot of physical labor from Bill and I. Well worth it and a total money saver, but a forewarning if your not big on manual labor. VIEW THE TRANSFORMATION GALLERY...

STEP 5. Furniture & Décor!

Get Crafty. Reuse. Reclaim. Repurpose. It’s our motto. We are thrifty & rarely toss furniture out. Everything in the photos we already owned.

Reuse an Old Table and Add an Umbrella We stored our old, wood IKEA kitchen table for years. To create the Dining area, we drilled a 2” hole into the middle of the table and added an existing umbrella for shade.

We treated the tabletop and legs with a spray-on rubber coating to protect from water and further covered it with a waterproof tablecloth. Voila!

Salvaged Chairs While we have 4 chairs from the IKEA table, someone was throwing away these heavy-duty wrought iron Café Chairs. So, we salvaged them! Well, our neighbor did!

Use other items around your home. Things like glass décor and houseplants make for great outdoor décor – and it’s free. The Palm Tree you see typically lives in my family room. The red glass candle holder was hidden in my pantry shelf for the last 4 years and the house plants on the wire shelf in the corner are hanging out here till the Fall!

OK, we bought a few things too! It’s fun to add a few new things. We grabbed a cute flamingo and a few pots to add some color to the area. Was it a necessary expense? No.

AHHHHHHHHHH! Just how we imagined it would look!

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO COMPLETE? Overall, the lawn removal and stone application took Bill and I two (2) full-days of work both Friday and Saturday.

Once the hard, physical work was completed, we took Day 3 to handle the table and adding the furniture. And to do some shopping. It's been a few days, but the only thing I am doing is continuing the finishing touches. But I'm really obsessive about that!

Let us know what you think about our DIY BACKYARD OVERHAUL and if you have any questions, always reach out to The Basics Pittsburgh!

WANT MORE INFO... Here are some additional notes on adding an Underground Downspout and the Tool List we used.

DIY Underground Downspout

Since we were ripping out the lawn, we took this time to dig a ditch to incorporate an underground downspout because the downspout is the reason for the drainage issues in the first place! Thus, we made an underground downspout – all DIY and less than $50.00.

A Note About Pea Gravel…if we may. Pea gravel is mixed with sand, so you’ll have to rinse it off a few times once it’s. The rain will help this, but if you’re neighbors see you “watering” your rocks, just smile and wave!


Measuring tape. You’ll need to determine the area you want to cover. Be sure to consult your local building materials store to help determine what you’ll need. We needed 5 tons of pea gravel for a 516 square foot space.

Gloves. Invest in a few good pairs of work gloves. It’s imperative for a long day! Edging Tool & Flat shovel. For sod removal. Wheelbarrow. For transporting sod away and adding the stone later. Round or Pointed Digger Shovel. For shoveling stone into your wheelbarrow. Mattock Tool. We needed this for a trench we dug for underground downspout. More on that later. Landscape fabric. To be applied after the lawn removal and before stone application - to stop weed growth. Rake. This will help pushing and leveling the stone around. Hose. So you can rinse the stone off - at the end.


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