30 Inexpensive Backyard Ideas for Small Yards

Inexpensive Backyard Ideas for Small Yards

Have a small backyard and want to make it inviting on a budget? Try these 30 inexpensive backyard ideas for small yards, including cheap DIY outdoor seating, affordable garden decor, and easy patio upgrades. By using these simple ideas, you can make the most of your small space.




1. Enjoy A Relaxing Nap In A Hammock

Photo Credit: Cottonwood Shanty

Adding a hammock to your backyard space has multiple benefits. It gives you a place to relax by reading a book or taking an afternoon nap. You can also choose a fabric that complements and elevates the style of your space. This hammock stand design uses two 4 by 4 posts. The posts are anchored three feet into the ground and stabilized with concrete mix. While you don’t have to add the beam across the top, Alyssa at Cottonwood Shanty says, “I highly recommend installing a top post to help stabilize your two posts from caving in. We just used a piece of wood we had in the garage to help make everything solid and straight.”

This is a simple DIY project you can complete on a weekend for less than $100. The biggest expense is the hammock itself, but there are plenty of affordable options to choose from online.


2. Cheap DIY Patio With A Firepit

Photo Credit: A Small Life

If you don’t have a backyard patio, you can add one without spending a ton of money. Most patio ideas are expensive, but this one can be completed on a budget. Melanie at A Small Life created this design because “a deck would’ve been both expensive and time-consuming because we’d have to get a permit to do it.”

She used pressure-treated 4 by 4 posts to create the framing. You can then fill the space in with pea gravel which is comfortable to walk on and super affordable. Add an outdoor rug and a few chairs to create a lovely seating area. You can also create a cheap fire pit using a galvanized steel tub. In just a few hours your space will be transformed from an empty lawn to a beautiful patio you can share with friends and family.


3. Recycle Pallets To Make An Affordable Deck

Photo Credit: Dagmar’s Home

Here’s another way to add a patio area to your small backyard. This DIY deck design was created by Dagmar Bleasdale of Dagmar’s Home who says, “It doesn’t have to cost much to improve your backyard a little bit every year.” She used 4 pallets to create the deck base and laid plywood on top to create a flat surface. Adding an outdoor rug to cover the plywood gives the new deck a more polished look. Add a table, chairs, and umbrella to create an outdoor dining space to use for your next backyard barbeque.


4. Build A Budget Friendly Modern Bench

Williams Sonoma Inspired Outdoor Bench
Photo Credit: DIY Candy

There are tons of outdoor seating ideas for small spaces. DIY benches and chairs are much more affordable than purchasing premade seating. This modern bench can be built for less than $30 dollars! The clean lines look super sleek and you can stain or paint it to match your existing décor. With a few power tools and a couple of pieces of 2×4 lumber, you can create this masterpiece in a day. Get detailed instructions for building this William Sonoma-inspired bench from our Modern Outdoor Bench Plans article.


5. Add Extra Seating With An Inexpensive Farmhouse Bench

Small Outdoor Farmhouse Style Bench by Hertoolbelt

You can add garden seating ideas on a budget to improve your ability to entertain guests in your backyard. Chairs and benches are too difficult to build and look way more expensive than they are. If a farmhouse-style bench is more your style, try building this bench which only costs around $25 dollars to make. It is constructed entirely from 2 x 4s which helps keep the cost to a minimum. Paint it white and use sandpaper to give it that slightly worn farmhouse look. We have the step-by-step plans and tools you’ll need to build it in our DIY Farmhouse Bench Plans article.


6. Use Shade Sails To Create A Covered Patio

Shade sail covers the entire deck

A covered patio is ideal for keeping you cool on your patio in the summer. However, adding a roof or pergola can cost hundreds of dollars. Instead, opt for installing a shade sail which you can purchase for less than $100! They’re also easy to hang and come in a wide variety of colors. In under an hour, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the shade.


7. Liven Up Empty Corners With Potted Plants

Photo Credit: Brenda Townzen

If you have a small yard, maximizing every inch will enable you to get the most out of your space. Decorating a corner with potted plants can add color and texture to your overall design. This design uses a combination of hanging plants and a three-tiered corner plant stand to take advantage of the space vertically. Stacking a few stones around the front completes the look. Add a solar-powered light to illuminate your new corner feature at night.


8. Cinder Block Raised Beds Are Extremely Durable

Photo Credit: Delia Creates

Raised bed gardens make spending time with your plants easier on your back. While many people build costly wooden raised beds, cinder block raised beds are so much more durable and affordable. Unlike a wooden structure, which will rot in a couple of years and need replacing, cinder blocks can last for decades.

Here they’ve used a single layer of 16″ x 8″ x 8″ cinder blocks with 16″ x 8″ x 4″ blocks on top to cover the holes. Customize the design with a paint color that matches your patio furniture to tie it all together.


9. Custom Cinder Block Fire Pits Won’t Break The Bank

Photo Credit: Michelle Jennings

Having a custom fire pit built can cost a lot of money. With cinder blocks, you can easily build a stunning fire pit yourself on a budget. This design can be completed for around $60! All you need is 28 fire-resistant cinder blocks, 2 bags of red lava rocks, and a small bag of mortar. It’ll only take a few hours to build and you’ll be able to use your new custom fire pit the next day!


10. Low-Cost Brick Fire Pits Are Easy To Build

Cheap brick fire pit idea

Bricks will allow you to create a more low-profile fire pit for small yards. This brick fire pit can be built for less than $50! You can select a brick color that complements your backyard space. You can also easily add another layer of bricks if you want it to stand out more. Get the full details on how to build this fire pit and the materials you’ll need, from our Brick Fire Pit Plans article.


11. Invite The Birds With A Cheap Bird Feeder

Photo Credit: Ana White

Bird watching in my backyard is one of my favorite pastimes! Having a bird feeder in your yard will attract a variety of birds for you to admire. This bird feeder is built with a few pieces of cedar and nails for around $2. If you’re like me and you have a stack of scrap wood and leftover nails in the garage, you can build it for free. Adding a wood stain will make it last longer and allow you to match it to the space.


12. Building A Birdhouse Only Costs A Few Bucks

If you want birds to stick around long-term, consider building them a birdhouse. They’ll happily use it for shelter and you’ll likely get to see them raise their young. This birdhouse plan is extremely simple to build. All you need is a single piece of cedar lumber and a few nails. For just a few dollars you’ll add another feature to your small backyard helping to increase its functionality!


13. Brighten Up Backyards With Inexpensive String Lights

Inexpensive patio lighting allows you to hang out in your outdoor oasis after the sun goes down. Adding string lights is both easy and cheap to do. Drape them from the trees, or a pergola, or install some wood posts to hang them from. You can then enjoy a romantic evening under the stars or throw a party in your newly illuminated space.


14. Old Pallets Are Perfect For Vertical Gardening

When you’re working with a small backyard, going vertical will help you increase its usability. Vertical gardening is the perfect way to grow plants without taking up a ton of square footage. An old wooden pallet can be turned into a recycled planter and will only cost a few dollars. They can easily be attached to an exterior wall and provide shelving for potted plants. You can either stain it to keep a natural wood look or paint it if you want to add a pop of color.


15. Homemade Totems Add An Artistic Touch To Gardens

Photo Credit: MacGirlver

You can make a garden totem from glass which will enhance the beauty of your landscaping. The sun will accentuate the glass and create mesmerizing shadows. You can use vases, cups, plates, and just about any glass item you may already have on hand. Visit your local thrift store or a garage sale to find inexpensive glass items to use for your totem. The more shapes and colors you incorporate, the more artistic the final result will be.


16. Transform Old Fences Into A Work Of Art

Photo Credit: Rowan Jacobs

If your fence is looking a little drab in your petite outdoor space, consider turning it into a work of art. Painting a mural to decorate a fence will breathe new life into it. I absolutely love how this homeowner painted rabbits on their fence behind their hostas. It adds a whimsical touch to the space that is beyond adorable.


17. Define Spaces With Stepping Stone Pathways

Adding a stepping stone pathway to your yard can help you define outdoor spaces the same way walls do inside a home. Hardscape walkways can also add an extra focal point that will stand out in winter when many of your plants go dormant. To keep the cost down, consider mixing large stone pavers with pea gravel. Large stone pavers aren’t exactly cheap, depending on the material you choose, so mixing in affordable pea gravel will lower the overall price tag.


18. Grow Strawberries In Recycled Plastic Pots

Photo Credit: A Piece Of Rainbow

These upcycled plastic pots are excellent for creating a vertical planter to grow strawberries in. Strawberries take up a good bit of space if you plant them on the ground. By planting them vertically, you can produce plenty of strawberries using a minimal amount of space. These strawberry planters are a brilliant way to grow fresh fruit in your small backyard.


19. Turn Cable Spools Into An Economical Table

Photo Credit: Indecision and Cake

Adding a small coffee table and chairs to small yards will give you a place to read a book or have a drink. You can turn a cable spool into a rustic-looking side table and you don’t even need a hammer. Recycled cable spools are sold online by a variety of vendors. Give it a quick facelift by staining or painting it.


20. Swings Provide Inexpensive Entertainment For Kids

Classic tree swing
Photo Credit: The Merry Thought

Backyard ideas that add useful features will help your small space feel bigger. This DIY tree swing will be a fun feature for children and adults to play on. It’s both cheap and easy to build which is an added bonus! Staining the wood ensures your swing lasts for years to come.


22. Drop Down Bars Are Ideal For Small Spaces

A Super Simple Outdoor Bar Idea - a Drop Down Bar Shelf that is attached using hinges and a metal chain
Photo Credit: My Bella Bug

Just because you have a small yard doesn’t mean you don’t still love to entertain friends. When people come over you’ll likely find you need extra table space for people to enjoy food and drinks. A drop-down bar is the optimal solution. It’s easy to pull down when you need it and tuck it back away when you don’t. You can recreate this outdoor bar idea for less than $50.


23. Curtains Provide Privacy On A Budget

Photo Credit: Thrifty & Chic

Building a privacy screen can make your small patio feel more like an outdoor retreat. With curtains, it’s simple to create a private space on a budget. All you need are a few 4 x 4 wood posts, some metal rails, and outdoor curtains. In just a few hours you’ll have the secluded space you desire.


24. Bring In More Color With A Bottle Tree

Make your own bottle tree art piece
Photo Credit: The Bent Trowel

Bottle tree art is an inexpensive way to add color and art to your small backyard. They don’t take up much space and can be easily tailored to match your style. Add a variety of colors for a more eclectic look or use a single color to make a more subtle statement.


25. Trees Become Sculptures With Affordable Tree Knitting

Tree Sculptures Knitting Art
Photo Credit: Random Acts Of Knitting

Tree knitting is an unconventional idea for adding art to your outdoor design. With some affordable yarn, you can literally knit a sweater for your tree. Use whatever colors speak to you and feel free to get creative. This outdoor craft will turn your tree into a work of art that is sure to thrill whoever gets to see it.


26. Spilled Flower Pots Add Interest To Gardens

Photo Credit: Good Ideas For You

I just love the way spilled flower pots look in a garden! It creates the illusion of movement with flowers that look like they’re flowing out across the ground. You can use whatever container you have on hand to create one or purchase a cheap flower pot to use. Annuals will work just fine but you’ll save money in the long run if you plant perennials that will come back each year.


27. Upcycle Old Teapots Into Thrifty Hanging Planters

Teapots as flower pots

Here’s a budget-friendly way to use old teapots as hanging flower pots. They would look gorgeous in a cottage-style backyard. If you don’t have any teapots on hand, you can often find them for a few bucks at the thrift store. Upcycling unused items around the house is a great way to save money while improving your yard.


28. Old Shoes Are No-Cost Flower Planters

Photo Credit: Craft Gawker

Rainboot planters are another way you can recycle something old and add it to your outdoor décor. These rainboot planters are so cute and would look fantastic next to the door on your patio. Make sure you drill a few holes in the bottom to allow water to drain.


29. Build a DIY Dog Bed For Your Furry Friend

Photo Credit: HGTV

Here’s another way to turn a wooden pallet into something useful for your small backyard. Your dog will love hanging out with you on the porch on this comfy outdoor dog bed. Select a fabric color for the bed that complements the surroundings or makes it pop with a splash of color.


30. Make a DIY Metal Trellis With Plumbing Pipes

Photo Credit: Dysfunctional Designs

If you’re growing vining plants or vegetables, you’ll need a trellis for them to climb on. This trellis is created using copper pipes which is amazing. The copper will look outstanding even when it doesn’t have plants growing on it in winter. Plus, the copper will take on a greenish hue as it develops a patina over time.

About Dakota Crawford 44 Articles
Dakota Crawford is a freelance science writer who covers gardening, forestry, wildlife, and entomology. She earned three degrees from The University of Georgia: Bachelor of Science in Wildlife, Master of Science in Forest Resources, and Master of Science in Entomology.