Patio Ideas on a Budget Can Refresh Outdoor Spaces

Yes, it’s possible to transform your outdoor space for a hundred bucks. There are plenty of patio ideas on a budget that can dress up a small apartment balcony or backyard patio.

6 Ways to Dress Up Your Patio and Yard

Refreshing your outdoor living space with some store-bought or DIY projects doesn’t have to be expensive. We have tips for both dressing up the garden and making your patio or porch fit for evening cocktails. Each of these projects will set you back about $100.

1. Gravel Is Your Best Friend

If you want to extend your patio (assuming you’ve got the space), don’t spend gobs of money pouring concrete or buying any lumber. Instead, grab a few bags of gravel.

All you need to do is to make sure your ground is level (or level it out with the gravel), place some landscape fabric to prevent weeds, and pour away! Purchase a few paver stones, and for less than $100, you’ve got a larger space. You may even have left over money to use toward other decorative items.

2. Design Your Own Outdoor Rug

Outdoor rugs can get expensive fast. The good news is that you can purchase cheap ones, but they’re often plain or come in drab colors (if you like taupe, all the power to you). Better yet scour your local thrift store or yard sales — make sure the color is light enough you can paint over it.

Once you’ve got your rug, grab some outdoor paint (or most latex paints will do). You can use a paint brush, sponge, or foam roller — basically whatever works to get the paint in. Tape off your design, paint and wait for it to completely dry putting it alongside furniture.

3. Create a DIY Solar Water Fountain

Don’t dig up your yard or haul in a massive concrete fountain to create an adorable water feature. Buy a large waterproof container to start — your local garden store has large plastic plant pots, or grab a galvanized tub.

Then, choose the types of plants you want, to make it look like a tiny pond, you can simply fill your container with water and add in a pond or water plants. Otherwise, you can keep other types of plants in their original containers, arrange it however you like and fill it with some gravel and water.

Last, get a solar water pump, preferably one with a long cord so you can place the solar panel where you’ll get the most light. This should set you back around $20. Be sure to read the product description before buying as different pumps will spray water differently. Install it according to the directions, turn it on and enjoy it while you’re sitting back sipping a cool drink.

4. Create a Shade Cloth Patio

No need to build or purchase an expensive pergola if you’re looking for shade. Purchasing and installing sturdy posts and putting a shade cloth over your patio can instantly transform your space (and keep it cooler).

If you only put a shade cloth up, it can look a bit undone (and dare we say, cheap). To make it feel like a million bucks, add some string lights. Doing so makes your space seem more inviting and provides light when you feel like hanging outside after dark.

Outdoor furniture including a table, two chairs and a shelf to hold plants are made out of pallet wood.
Getty Images

5. Build Some Pallet Furniture

Scared of DIY furniture? Not to worry when you’ve got cheap pallets to the rescue (is there anything you can’t do with them?). In most cases, you can stack a few together, add a few comfy cushions, and you can have yourself a nice seating area.

If you want to get creative, you can break them apart and make more complex items. For instance, you nail two pallets back to back, cut another pallet to size to place on top and you have yourself a nice bar area to serve drinks.

Another idea is to cut down the pallets to create a large crate on wheels, big enough to fit a cooler inside. Puts a new spin on serving drinks. Check out these ideas and tutorials.

6. Cinder Blocks Are Stylish and Cheap

These seemingly boring materials offer a lot of flexibility and versatility when it comes to decorating your patio. Think of them as building blocks for a wide variety of projects.

Instead of planter boxes, line a few up along the edge of your patio, fill them with dirt and plant your heart’s desire. You can even arrange your cinder blocks into a chair and stick plants inside the holes. Heck, even use them as the legs of a bench and place a large piece of lumber as the seating. Let your imagination run wild.

As you can see from all of our ideas above, a patio makeover can be done for $100 or less. Now that we proved cost isn’t a hindrance to creating a beautiful outdoor space, what are you going to do about yours?

Contributor Sarah Li-Cain is a personal finance writer based in Jacksonville, Florida, specializing in real estate, insurance, banking, loans and credit. She is the host of the Buzzsprout and Beyond the Dollar podcasts. Tiffany Wendeln Connors, deputy editor at The Penny Hoarder, updated this post.