For many homeowners, the backyard offers a retreat from the fast-paced swirl of life, promoting solitude and serenity, calm and good health amid the daily grind.

Though the popular home improvement shows spotlight finished outdoor spaces with massive water features, grand exterior kitchens, and ambitious landscaping, creating such splendid spaces often carries a mighty cost. With some calculated planning and creativity, however, you can inject fresh flair into your backyard without breaking the bank.

    1. Hit the Lights: Outdoor lighting brings a whimsical look to any backyard while also increasing safety. From vintage Edison bulbs to lights contained in mini-mason jars, retailers big and small now carry a range of string lights in fun shapes and colors to make backyards sparkle.

    2. Ignite Your Green Thumb: Adding fresh flowers is among the easiest and most economical ways to enliven your backyard. Whether you create a flower bed surrounded by stones, use planter boxes, or turn that rickety old red wagon into a garden on wheels, fresh flowers add color and perfume to any outdoor space.

    3. Aim and Fire: A good power washing to your sidewalk, patio, or fence can quickly – and economically – rejuvenate your backyard.

    4. Get Your “Upcycle” On: While you could go out and purchase new seating and a patio table, that can hurt the pocketbook. If you can find furniture, planter boxes, and other tangible elements with good bones, you can resuscitate those dated pieces with some elbow grease and spray paint for a vibrant, contemporary look.

    5. Grab Some Gravel Gravel is low-maintenance, durable, available in multiple colors, and rather inexpensive. It’s also often overlooked as an on-the-ground solution to high-traffic areas or spots unfit for plants. When used on walkways, in particular, gravel can surround flagstone or stepping stones to merge style and function.

    6. Make Mulch an Ally: Considered the “carpet of the backyard,” fresh mulch brightens the look of any backyard. Dedicating a few bags to flowerbeds and exposed soil, fresh mulch delivers an invigorated look, blocks weeds, and ensures plants receive much-needed nutrients.

    7. Let the Water Flow: A fountain will not only serve as a decorative element, but it will also bring the soothing sounds of flowing water right to your backyard.

    8. Bring Inside Elements Outside: Extend your living space into the great outdoors by bringing some traditional interior elements outside. Add color and texture to the backyard with a large outdoor rug or transform an old hutch into an outdoor bar.

    9. Embrace Your Inner Architect: Pergolas and trellises add immediate heft to any backyard. A trellis, for instance, can sit in the back of a yard as a charming focal point or delineate one backyard area from another, while a pergola can provide shade and serve as a dramatic anchor to any backyard’s design.

    10. Use the Fence as a Canvas: Feeling particularly artistic and daring? A unique mural on the fence or even a two or three-toned “racing stripe” running across the fence can add a vibrant pop of color and fun-loving dimension.