The hot, unrelenting sun beat down on me from above. It was an endless jungle for as far as I could see. As I looked up, I could see the vultures circling around me, waiting for me to take my final step. It seemed days since I had heard a human voice. All I could hear was that horrid, constant whurring sound. As my strength faded, I wondered what I had done to deserve such a fate, and why my parents hated me so much.
I HATED mowing the lawn as a kid. Our yard was normal size and shape, but to me it was a form of cruel and unusual punishment to do any form of yard work. I carried this hate with me into my young adult life, and as such, I neglected my yard at every property I lived at. Then one magical day, I got married, and a transformation occurred. I found myself wanting to mow the lawn. I bought some fertilizer. I started pulling weeds. I found myself wanting to build a deck! Doing the basics things like pulling weeds and using fertalizer once in a while has complete changed my yard for the better. If is amazing how much of a difference it makes! Having a nice yard now brings me joy instead of torment. I now enjoy our warm spring evenings outside with my wife, and feel personally wealthy because of it. Here are my tips for transforming your yard into a place you enjoy spending time, and all at an affordable cost.
I love lights in a backyard. They have such a high impact and can totally transform your yard with minimal effort! But aren’t those lights expensive? Not necessarily! I got a set of pathway lights ( an 8 pack) for $20 at Costco last month. These 8 lights are more then enough to cover the majority of my yard. You can find similar lights on Amazon. I have even seen these kinds of lights for sale at the local dollar store! If you have any kind of overhang, you can get some great lights to hang for just $15! I used black zip-ties to hang my lights, so that when we move to our next rental I can take them down easy without worrying about my deposit.
If Tiki-torches are your thing, I have found them cheapest on Ebay. You can get them for around $3 a torch depending on when and where you look.
I do not have a green thumb. In fact, I can barely keep a plant alive as long as it is under my care. Like some sort of grim reaper, plants just seem to die around me no matter what I do. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy them! I have found roses to be very easy to care for, with a
great flower payoff for minimal work! If you are at a rental property like me, you can keep it easy by just keeping them in pots. I found some cheap flower pots for around $5 on Amazon, or if you are creative you can paint a small bathroom trashcans for a dollar and use it as a flower pot! This is your opportunity to get creative, and re-purpose whatever junk you have in the house. Jars, pots, cans, whatever you can think of. Flowers themselves are pretty easy to come by. Every time I pass by Lowe’s or Home Depot, they have a ton of flowers for sale. Just grab a few and try them out in your yard!
Craigslist is your friend here. I love a good fixer-upper, and the easiest way for me to find cheap deals is to search WHATEVER I am searching for, and add on “Project” or “needs work” to my search. It is a quick and effective way to filter through all the fake $1 adds and helps me find exactly what I am looking for. Just using this search technique, I found a 6 piece table and chair set for $50 on craigslist, that just needs a new coat of paint and a few seat cushions. You can search the free section of craigslist too if you are feeling adventurous. If you prefer the more minimalist approach, my wife found some great chairs for $17! They are comfortable, durable, and cheap. My favorite combination.
Garage sales can be a goldmine as well if you want to do a little hunting. As long as it is cheap, you could even take a $10 garage sale couch and use it for your yard with a little “creative blanket” use.
The Finished Product
My yard used to be a huge mess, and was mostly ignored. Now it is a place that I take pride in and enjoy spending my evenings. The best part is that I didn’t have to invest thousands or even hundreds of dollars to see a large difference. All I had to do was some thrifty shopping and a little clever decorating, and now my yard is just another place that makes me feel like I have personal wealth.