Renovation Diary

Rachel Spills: What I Actually Spent on My Backyard Makeover

updated Jun 26, 2019
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(Image credit: Rachel Anderson)

Name: Rachel Andersen
Type of Project: Backyard Patio Renovation
Location: Tulsa, OK
Type of building: Single-Family Ranch

The Renovation Diaries are a collaboration with our community in which we feature your step by step renovation progress and provide monetary support towards getting it done in style. See all of our Reno Diaries here.

All projects come with lots of good intentions — filled with budgets, plans, and timelines. Did Rachel’s actual experience live up to her expectations? Find out how much she actually spent, and if she would do it all over again…

→ See Rachel’s Entire Backyard Makeover Series Here

(Image credit: Rachel Anderson)

How did your budget change between the beginning of the project and the end of the project? Were there any things that really surprised you?

When I began the project, my initial design was to make my own pavers, but much bigger – each one at nearly 36 by 36 inches. Unfortunately, given the cost of renting the concrete mixer, and the timing of letting each paver cure, it was better to simply purchase pre-made, smaller pavers from Home Depot. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed at first, BUT the savings in both time and money were worth it. And the end result was still great!

Because I went that route, I was able to return several packs of concrete, and didn’t have to use leftover 2x4s to build the paver frames. I also rented a smaller concrete mixer, so that brought my rental cost down from the original estimate.

I also adjusted my estimate for the bench. It was fairly off to begin with, as I was shooting in the dark at the beginning! Once I decided what style I wanted to build, the cost decreased significantly. I also chose to make one bench instead of two, and put that money elsewhere.

I really splurged on plants and planters. My budget jumped quite a bit, despite waiting for end-of-season sales and getting more plants for my money. But that addition made such a difference in adding life to the patio, it was definitely worth the investment.

(Image credit: Rachel Anderson)



  • Concrete mix: $49.38
  • Concrete mixer rental fee: $53.33
  • Pavers: $111.77
  • Melamine: Free
  • Bench Hardware & Materials: $33.23
  • Hardware & Tools for Molds & Benches: $20.78
  • Post and Hardware for Hammock: $34.64


  • Patio furniture: $167
  • Pillows + throws: $100 ($7.30 thrift fabric cushions)
  • Planters + plants: $379.48
  • Patio Lights: $26.02

Total: $982.93

(Image credit: Rachel Anderson)

Now that the project is over and you’re looking back on it, what are the most important lessons you learned through the remodeling process?

The biggest thing I was reminded of, was to have grace during a longer project period! My home became messy and frustrating at times, with so much going on to flip the patio, while keeping up with the normal crazy schedule.

If you were to do this again, what would you choose to do differently?

I really love the finished product! If I were to do it again however, I think I would up my budget/timeframe, and stick with the original paver size of 36 by 36 inches. The ones I ended up going with are great, but a little underwhelming for the design I had in my mind.

Did your schedule go as planned? What took more time than you thought it would? What took less time?

The timeframe definitely went longer than I planned. There were several projects I needed to borrow tools for, needed help lifting, and managing my odd schedule can occasionally be a bit last minute as to when I get solid time to work on a large project. Thankfully, I have friends who are flexible and willing to lend a tool or a hand!

What is your next project going to be?

I haven’t narrowed that down quite yet, but I know it won’t be too long. 🙂

(Image credit: Rachel Anderson)

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