From the landscaping to the lighting to the furniture, how can you save money on backyard renovations? What parts of the yard should you update? Do you dare take on the project by yourself or is it wise to hire a contractor? We asked some design experts for advice.
Plus: How to Avoid Home Improvement Scams
1. Set a budget
Backyard renovations can cost a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands. If you plan on building a swimming pool or a deck, projects that will require a contractor, be sure to get price estimates from several different companies. And don't forget recommendations from former customers. Once you've made your selection, always try to negotiate for a better deal.
2. Buy, sell and trade
You may cringe at the sight of your worn-out redwood table. But instead of throwing it away, try selling it on eBay or Craigslist--you never know who may be willing to buy it.
3. Pick up your smartphone
Landscapedia: This 99-cent app lets you search the characteristics of 35,000 plants to see which ones work best in your area.
iHandy Carpenter: Instead of buying tools, here are five commonly used ones right on your screen. For $1.99, you get a protractor, ruler, plumb bob, bubble level and surface level.
Handy Man DIY: This $1.99 app allows you to make shopping lists, calculate square footage and calculate what your project will cost.
If a heat wave hits while you're away on vacation, chances are your newly planted grass, flowers and veggies will die. Consider installing a sprinkler system or hooking up a couple hoses with a timer that goes on a few times a week.
5. Common mistakes to avoid
Not doing tasks in the proper sequence (think forgetting to level the ground for good drainage before building) or not using rot-and-bug-resistant materials may save you in the short run, but will likely come back to haunt you.
With a clear-cut plan, the right contractors and proper tools, there's no reason why your backyard project can't be a smashing success.
Plus: 5 More Ways to Save on Backyard Projects