Upgrade Your Backyard With These 6 DIY Projects

Check out these projects that will turn your backyard into an inviting outdoor living space.

Upgrading a Backyard With Low Maintenance Options

Recently we designed and built a backyard living room, a spot where you could put up your feet and enjoy the company of family and friends around a fire. Stuck in the Midwest in late winter, we decided to take the project on the road — all the way to Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

Your backyard may not look like this, but these stylish, low-maintenance options are adaptable for any yard. Tackle one project or build them all. Then sit back and relax, knowing there’s little to no upkeep ahead. 

Gabion Baskets 

New Mexico Back Yard Garbion BasketFamily Handyman

Think of this as a stone fence held together by steel mesh. Gabion walls start with baskets or cages. (Gabbione is Italian for “big cage.”) Filled with stones, they’re often industrial structures built for erosion control. Sized right for our backyard, we incorporated them as short walls and design features.

Stucco-look Wall

New Mexico Back Yard Stucco Look WallFamily Handyman

Concrete block walls bordered our New Mexico backyard. We wanted a different style that would still be durable and low maintenance. With simple lumber framing covered by exterior sheathing panels and paint, these walls gave our backyard a whole new look.

Built-in Benches

New Mexico Back Yard Built In BenchesFamily Handyman

Every living room, indoor and out, needs comfy seating. And for a backyard, all-weather durability is equally important. We’ve built a few decks with composite boards so we know how versatile that decking can be. Plus, with its hidden fasteners, this decking looks as polished as your living room couch.

Composite Decking Boardwalk

New Mexico Back Yard Composite Decking BoardwalkFamily Handyman

We designed a boardwalk that serves as the red carpet for our guests as they approach the seating area. By butting up to the existing concrete patio, we added valuable and functional square footage to that space. Also built with composite decking over a treated-lumber frame, the boardwalk is ultra durable.

Fire on the Rocks 

New Mexico Back Yard Fire On The RocksFamily Handyman

We don’t always want a fire going, but when we do, there’s nothing like the convenience and glow of a propane-fueled fire pit. We built this one with a double gabion basket structure that securely held our fire-pit components in an attractive and non-combustible framework.

Vertical Wall Panels

New Mexico Back Yard Vertical Wall PanelsFamily Handyman

To accent our boardwalk and benches, we added vertical wall panels with a few extra boards of our composite decking. No real function here — it’s purely a design element and one of our favorite pieces from this backyard project. You could add it to a fence or other existing wall structure.  

Glenn Hansen
A magazine editor and writer by trade, Glenn gained experience in home repair when he bought his first old home while working side jobs in construction to supplement his starving-writer salary. He has built several furniture projects from the pages of Family Handyman magazine and worked through countless fix-it-up projects at home to save a few bucks.