Are you overwhelmed with your yard? Is it really, well, ugly and embarrassing? If your yard is a hot mess, you may believe you have to spend a ton of time and money to get it looking presentable. But there are a few ways to do an easy and cheap backyard makeover that will make you less embarrassed of your yard.
When we bought our house back in 2014, our front yard was one of the worst yards on the block. We were pretty self conscious about it, so almost immediately we planted grass and spent a ton of time and money to make it look presentable. And it was a TON of work! I enjoy working outdoors, but this endeavor was pretty insane.
But the front yard wasn’t the only problem. The backyard was pretty rough, too. And here we are, years later, and it’s still rough. After the front yard reno, we simply did not have the time or money to mess with the back. Of course, time got away from us as life sped up and we started having babies. But this year, I decided it was time to quit messing around, and at least get our backyard decent enough so our toddler can play out there in the warm spring and summer months. Since time and money are still a factor, I discovered how to do an easy and cheap backyard makeover.
1. Rake up the debris
Our yard is about eighty percent dirt right now, and it blows my mind how much crap is back there. If you want to give your yard a facelift, start by raking up all the junk. In the summer of 2019, I was very pregnant with our second child and my husband was in an extremely intense, busy season at work. Neither of us had time to do anything with the yard, but my mom and father-in-law offered to help us by clearing out a ton of debris (best parents awards!).
The City of Albuquerque holds Solid Waste Events a couple times a year, during which they will pick up your green waste (leaves, grass clippings, brush, etc.) on your normal trash pickup day, free of charge. Start your backyard makeover by getting rid of the crap.
2. Mow and spray weeds
Weeds seem to pop up out of nowhere, especially when Albuquerque gets even a teeny, tiny bit of rain. (Why can’t the grass do as well as those darn weeds?) One trick for your easy and cheap backyard makeover is mowing those weeds down to the dirt. Don’t waste time pulling them; after you mow them down, spray weed killer. Then, after they die, rake them up and maybe pull a few of the bigger ones.
3. Trim overgrown bushes and trees
I have some pretty boxwoods in our yard that do pretty well, and I don’t do a thing to help them along (my kind of plant!). In fact, they do so well that they go a little crazy in the spring and summer. Continue your backyard makeover by trimming overgrown shrubbery. It doesn’t take much time at all to make the bushes in your yard look great. If you don’t have a hedge trimmer, just use a lopper or hedge shears. Be sure to time this task with the solid waste pickup mentioned above.
4. Mow and edge grass
If you’re brave enough to have grass in Albuquerque, give it a nice mow and trim the edges. When I was a kid, mowing the lawn was one of my favorite yard chores. I love seeing the difference between an overgrown lawn and one that’s been freshly mowed. Those lines (similar to the lines on freshly vacuumed carpet) give me all the feels. It’s so crazy what a simple mow and edge will do to a dreary backyard.
5. Sweep and spray down patio/deck/rock
Next in your backyard makeover adventure is making your porch or patio pretty. A simple sweep and spray with the hose does wonders for an outdoor space. Do the same with your rock and gravel (spray, don’t sweep, unless you can figure out how to make that work).
6. Clean patio furniture and grill
If you have outdoor furniture, give it some TLC. Dust off those spider webs and wipe everything down. Beat cushions and rugs to get rid of that desert dust. Wipe off the grill and give the inside a good cleaning.
7. Plant wildflower seeds
If you’re feeling especially ambitious, complete your easy and cheap backyard makeover by planting some wildflower seeds with your kids. They grow very easily, and you don’t really have to plan where to put them. If you want to up your game further, check out our gardening resources for Albuquerque.
Don’t let your yard intimidate you! Show it who’s boss by getting rid of the junk, trimming things up, and adding a few pretty elements. Use this easy and cheap backyard makeover to transform your outdoor space and make it a place your family can enjoy together (like making a DIY tent!).
Originally published in April 2020.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.