Before & After: Replacing a Rotting Deck With a Budget-Friendly Alternative

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

Jennifer’s backyard was overgrown and her deck had seen better days. After clearing away a good portion of the growth, she knew her backyard had major potential but she wasn’t entirely sure what to do about the deck. Enter gravel! Friend to both budget and mother nature, this alternative choice helped Jennifer build a gorgeous outdoor space.

From Jennifer: Before I purchased my house in late 2007, it had lived a maintenance-free life. The yard was completely overgrown. Untamed shrubs had grown so big, they were taking up most of the usable yard space. The cedar deck was slippery and rotting, with a cinderblock step from the sliding glass door to the deck. Old built-in planter boxes were falling apart. The side yard was nothing but weeds.

Cutting back the shrubs and clearing the weeds made a huge improvement in the appearance and usability of the space, but the rotting deck couldn’t be saved. It had to be replaced, and I searched for the most practical and affordable option. That turned out to be a gravel patio.

A binding product was applied to the gravel to create a solid surface, like concrete, but it still allows water to flow through. It’s an environmentally-friendly, and extremely budget-friendly alternative to concrete or pavers.

The first deck boards were ripped out in May, and I was relaxing on the new patio by the end of July. There were no major setbacks or surprises, but there were slight delays, waiting for the Seattle weather to cooperate.

The total budget was $2,663. It was completely a DIY project, with help from family and friends.

I love how much more usable the space is now. Removing the big deck, and bringing the whole space down to ground level makes it feel so much more open. It also makes it a little more private. I also love the addition of “outdoor living spaces,” like a little bistro set, a spot for reading and a fire pit. There isn’t anything I would do differently.

Jennifer’s words of wisdom: Take your time, and plan out your project.

I purchased my house right before the housing market started to crash. My home value was tumbling as I was trying to make repairs and updates. I was very careful to research options and prices of everything I did. I also spent time considering how I wanted to use my space, and what would work best for me. Rather than just rushing out and replacing the deck, because that’s what was there, I thought through other possibilities.

It turned out that a patio was a much better choice for the space. And rather than just going with a standard concrete or paver stone patio, I researched those options as well. I couldn’t be happier with the more environmentally-friendly and cost-effective choice that I made in the end. Even if money isn’t tight, having a solid plan in place before you start any project will help you avoid any regrets when you’re finished.

I would also suggest that applying the binding product to the gravel would go better with two people.

My budget was extremely tight, but the final result was everything I had hoped for. Cutting back the overgrown shrubs, and installing the patio made the space usable. But it’s the extra touches like pergolas, blooming plants, colorful pots, seating, a swing, and a fire pit that really make the space special.

This patio is the perfect solution for a standard suburban home, where we can’t all afford massive outdoor kitchens and tiered concrete patios. This is a project for real life outdoor living.

Thank you, Jennifer! You can see more on Jennifer’s blog Home Deconomics!

Have a beautiful backyard transformation to share? Did painting your exterior make you a neighborhood star? Well we want to see your Eye Catching Exteriors.