Projects & Improvements

Before and After: 10 of the Best Small Yard Makeovers of All Time

published Sep 25, 2023
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3 finished backyard projects
Credit: Naveen Shakir, Tina Frank, Kristi Waite

If you’ve recently moved into a home with a yard for the first time, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. Even when a yard is in top shape, it can require a fair amount of care and maintenance that’s not self-explanatory to anyone who hasn’t owned a yard before.

And if the yard you inherited isn’t in top shape? Well, that’s a challenge all its own — especially if space is tight. But don’t fret! Over the years, we’ve featured plenty of small yard transformations that prove no space is a lost cause. Here, you’ll find 10 of the very best small yard makeovers we’ve ever seen. Whether your own outdoor space is a blank canvas or an overgrown jungle, we have plenty of inspiration here to jumpstart your makeover dreaming.

1. An “Unusable” Backyard Turned Year-Round Outdoor Sanctuary

The homeowners behind this backyard makeover traded a trampoline for a hot tub so they could actually enjoy their outdoor space in cold weather, but that wasn’t the only change they made. The new patio is made with leftover pavers from their driveway, and the sofa is made from spare wood pallets.

2. A Plain Patio Becomes a Mediterranean-Inspired Oasis

This tiny outdoor space — just 180 square feet in total — was a complete blank canvas that was totally primed for transformation. Of course, there was a catch: Because it was a rental, no structural changes were allowed. In the end, the designer behind this project made a huge impact with fresh furniture and potted plants displayed on the wall and a ladder. Hello, vertical gardening!

3. A $500 Redo Turns a “Blah” Patio into the Perfect Hangout

Here’s proof that usability is only part of the equation when it comes to yards. This homeowner’s patio was perfectly functional, but the uninspiring design didn’t exactly make her want to put the space to use. Some smart DIYs (like the stenciled paint job) and new furnishings make it way more inviting.

4. This Stylish $2232 Deck Redo Will Have You Dreaming of Spring

Uneven and mismatched bricks didn’t make for a great foundation for this patio — never mind the rotting wood cellar hatch. Instead of doing a demo of the old patio, this homeowner covered it up completely with a new wood deck that features a very discreet (and very much non-rotting) hinged cellar hatch. The finishing touch is an ultra chic slatted pergola.

Credit: Tina Frank
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5. $130 and 6 Paint Colors Make a Dreary Fence Museum-Worthy

Art doesn’t need to be confined to the inside of your home. Take a cue from this creative fence redo and use paints in your favorite colors to add some cheer to your outdoor space.

Credit: Juliana DeMarici
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6. 5 DIYs Turned My Bare Patio into a Cozy Outdoor Living Area for Under $1000

In many areas, lush, grassy lawns just aren’t feasible — but that doesn’t mean that any outdoor space needs to be completely lifeless. Here, a savvy homeowner un-greened her faux turf patio — covering it with stylish terracotta tiles instead — before adding potted plants around the yard’s perimeter.

7. A DIY Patio Redo Saved These Homeowners Thousands of Dollars

Another great option for creating a patio area for cheap? Gravel. It was a key component in this once-unusable yard’s makeover. Rather than having a patio poured, the homeowners created a DIY dining and hangout spot using about $300 worth of gravel — a steal compared to the $4,000 they were quoted for concrete.

8. A $150 Refresh Makes This 70-Year-Old Patio Look Brand New

For areas that are structurally sound but looking a little worse for wear, paint can be the hero. In this makeover, the homeowner traced a checkered pattern onto her patio before painting it on in a subtle gray-and-white color scheme. The fresh new base emphasizes her stylish patio furniture rather than detracting from it.

9. A Boho-Glam Patio Redo Includes a DIY Chandelier, Succulent Wall, and More

This boho-style patio redo is absolutely packed with ideas worth stealing from top to bottom. Starting underfoot, there’s a gravel-and-paver border that gives the space an elevated look. On the fence, a succulent wall is a clever solution for anyone looking for more gardening space. And above, multiple pendant lights strung together create a grand chandelier display.

10. This Space-Savvy Patio Redo Features an All-Weather Lounge Space

If you want to get the most use out of your outdoor space, your best bet is to add shelter. The modern pergola in this backyard redo is a great example: Its frosted polycarbonate cover not only protects the homeowners from sun, but also from light rain.