Before & After: An Overgrown & Underused Backyard Gets a Second Chance

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You know how they say it’s what’s inside the counts? That may be all well and good for matters of the heart, but when it comes to your home, what’s outside also kind of counts as well. And in Lindsay’s case, that meant that her backyard, roof and deck needed some TLC in order for her home to really come together.

From Lindsay: When we bought our home, the only areas that did not pass the inspection were the exterior. The roof needed to be replaced, the front steps were cracked, and in the backyard (the area we hoped to use the most), the deck was in poor condition with stairs that didn’t meet code, the patio stones were slopped into the house (specifically, into the basement windows that were lacking in window wells), the back was completely overgrown with shrubs that hadn’t been tended in years and the grass had long been taken over by weeds.

We love to be outside and from May to September (October if we’re lucky) we spend as much time eating, relaxing and entertaining outside as possible. The backyard was a complete disaster, but the space was quite large by suburban standards, so it held a lot of potential. We decided to create three distinct zones – a deck for cooking and eating, a patio for lounging and entertaining, and plenty of green space for our son and dog to play!

We were determined to start the project in the spring and be done by the end of the school year, allowing us maximum time to enjoy the space over the summer months. We love taking on renovation projects but knew that with this aggressive timeframe and extent of the work to be done, we would need to do a combination of DIY and DIFM (do it for me). We made out plans and then met with a contractor, who we tasked with digging out the overgrown shrubs, regrading the yard, building window wells, and laying the new sod. Once we had the go ahead from him on timing, we set out to demo the existing deck, then let him do his work, before coming back in to rebuild the space ourselves.

The entire project cost $13,000, with the bulk of that being the supplies to build the deck and roof, and the patio stones. The biggest setback we encountered was the weather. Mother nature definitely wasn’t on our side and there were many days where we were kept inside by the rain (on the plus side, it is keeping our new sod well watered)! We also found it challenging working with a contractor. This was the first time we have used outside help in a project of this size and we struggled with the differing styles and lack of control over portions of the project.

We are thrilled with how the space turned out! In the coming years, we plan to replace the fence and add some greenery, but for now, we are excited to enjoy our space. Our favorite aspect of the project was the addition of the tin roof – not only does this allow us to eat outside in less than perfect weather, but it also provides a beautiful sound in the rain! This will also prove to be beneficial during the winter months – allowing us to BBQ outside without having to shovel snow off of the deck.

Lindsay’s words of wisdom: As with any renovation, our best advice is to set a budget, build in contingency, and make smart decisions to ensure you stick with it. Splurge on the larger, more permanent aspects of the project (for us, this was the lumber used for the deck and the paver stones) and save on finishes that can be more easily swapped out (I had a dining set in mind that was outside the budget so we went with an inexpensive set for now and will upgrade in the future).


  • Patio stones – Permacon
  • Patio set – Lowes
  • Deck lumber & roofing – Home Depot

Thank you, Lindsay! You can see more on Lindsay’s blog, Red House Style.