For many new homeowners, the first thing they want to work on is the backyard area. This is especially true if it’s an older home that hasn’t been updated. Many people dream of a great patio area in which to lounge and a fabulous yard to go along with it. It’s a space that should be versatile and easily transformed.
You may want a tranquil afternoon of reading in a lounge chair one day and throw a birthday party the next. A great backyard will be able to adapt with ease. Your outdoor area should be an extension of your home, with personal touches and themes that reflect your character and style.
It should be balanced with sun and shade, flowers, open space, shelter, and recreation. In some instances, you may even want to use it as a spare living space. Whatever dream patio and backyard visions you have, we’re here to help with these tips for building a backyard space that will make your dreams come true.
1. Building A Pole Barn
You may be wondering what this is and why you need it. First, pole barns were originally called telephone pole barns. During the Great Depression, when lumber was scarce, farmers began using old telephone poles to build their barns. It turned out that it was not only less expensive but less labor-intensive.
The practice caught on, and although telephone poles are not used, pole barns, as they are now called, are more popular than ever. Part of the popularity stems from not having to lay a concrete foundation or use a lot of timber. The poles are driven 4–6 feet into the ground, so the structure has solid support, so a traditional foundation is unnecessary. This means that a pole barn can be placed anywhere in your backyard.
The best part is that these barns aren’t just for animals. Many people have built these structures for other purposes, such as equipment storage, garage space, workshops, man caves, offices, and guest houses. Some folks even use it as a second small home for their parents or older children. If you’re big on entertaining, you can even consider placing it near your dream patio and using it for events and get-togethers, so there’s shelter from the elements.
Pole barns come in many different sizes and styles. You can do it yourself with a kit, or you can enlist the help of professionals like residential roofing companies or a garage door company. Made from durable, weather-resistant materials, most of these structures are known to last 40 to 60 years.
2. Removing Old Constructions
When you decide to remodel your yard or put in a dream patio, the first thing you should do is clear the area of old construction and materials. If there’s an old patio currently in the yard, either you or a demolition contractor will need to break up the outdated patio. Contact a dumpster rental company or two before doing any deconstruction and get rates for a container to dispose of the pieces. The area will likely need to be filled and leveled and grass planted if you’re not putting the new patio in the same place.
Consider removing things you don’t use, like old sheds, decks, and concrete slabs. Items you may have been “saving” that haven’t been used, like bricks, wood, and aluminum siding, should also go in the dumpster. If items are in good condition, you may want to repurpose them or donate them to places like Habitat for Humanity. Whatever you do with the materials, it’s essential to have a fresh start. Besides old materials being eyesores, they can present safety and health hazards.
Old sheds and piled-up material can attract bugs and vermin, which can be unpleasant and spread disease. Broken concrete and structures in poor condition can cause injury. It’s also a good idea for new homeowners to thoroughly inspect their yard for materials like broken glass, plant pots, and other things that may have become buried in the dirt over time.
3. Designing a Patio Space
Once you’ve prepared your backyard for its makeover, it’s time for the fun of designing your dream patio space. While planning this exciting new space, there are some things to remember. You and your family will hopefully spend a lot of time in the area, so you want it to be comfortable and inviting while still being functional. It should be an extension of your home’s overall style and personality.
First, decide what the primary function of the patio will be. Will it be strictly for family fun and relaxation, or will you be entertaining and need an area for event catering and entertainment? Next, plan the layout and decide on size. It’s recommended that a patio has at least 25 square feet per person.
Choose the area where you want the patio to be. Keep in mind things like shade and privacy. Draw a plan, measure the location, and use a rope to check for dimensions. All of this is essential preparation for the next step of choosing the type of material to be used.
Depending on the climate, how it will be used, and your budget, you can choose from various materials. Some homeowners like the delicate touch of porcelain for garden patios, while others prefer a sturdier brick or stone. If you’re on a budget, stamped concrete is a great option. It looks like a more expensive stone, but costs much less.
Once all the manual labor is done, you’re ready for the really exciting part of putting the final touches on your dream patio. Consider creating zones for your furniture and other patio items. For instance, if you plan on eating many meals on the patio, place the table nearest the kitchen door and get a cabinet for condiments, napkins, and other everyday items so you don’t have to run inside every other second.
Create a cozy lounge zone with comfy furniture and maybe a firepit. Surround the area with lush plants and aromatic flowers to create a sense of calm. Consider adding a water effect for even more serenity. Make a play zone for the kids with a playhouse and containers for their favorite outdoor toys. Finally, think about adding some shade with an oversized umbrella or pergola.
4. Adding an Outdoor Kitchen
When building your dream patio, consider adding an outdoor kitchen. It’s a great way to expand your cooking and living areas. Not only will you be able to entertain with ease and sophistication, but imagine those holiday dinners becoming so much easier with extra burners. Cooking outdoors in the summer will also help you save on energy costs.
The great thing is outdoor kitchens are not just for custom homes; they can easily be added to existing houses with a bit of planning and some residential propane lines. They can be as grand or modest as you need them to be. If you’re looking solely for functionality, your backyard kitchen could simply consist of a grill with a burner, a small fridge, and some portable storage and counter space.
From there, you can choose to add on as the need and finances allow; if you’re ready to go all in on your outdoor kitchen, then consider a fully covered area on a deck or patio. Here, you can install a large grill along with an outdoor stove. Many of these kitchens also have sinks, a full-size refrigerator, and tons of counter space. Some folks even choose to go with a formal dining table, bar, fireplace, and big screen for entertainment. Outdoor kitchens can be fun and valuable, but be sure to consider things like the climate in your area before purchasing materials.
5. Building a Sport Court
Most of us have seen those celebrity home tour shows where we get a glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous. After touring their garage full of luxury cars, the next usual stop was in the yard. After viewing the glorious pool area, we were generally treated to a view of a fantastic sports court area that may include a basketball or tennis court or both. Some celebs may even have a volleyball or Bocce ball court.
These were scenes we could only dream of as we shot hoops into the net above our garage door. But today, with a resurgence in the emphasis on fitness and family time, these courts are no longer for the rich and famous. There are many businesses dedicated to making these fun areas of a yard affordable for all budgets and accessible to backyards of most sizes.
If you’re on a tight budget, you can DIY by hiring paving companies or asphalt contractors to lay a foundation. From there, you can choose a surface finish like rubber or vinyl to insulate for shock and good traction. But if you can manage it, consider hiring some professionals. A sports court company will cover everything for you, from grading and showing the area to installing drainage, walls, and walkways. They can personalize the space to your specifications, making it just a basketball, tennis court, or a combination of both.
With one court surface, companies can install a basketball hoop and a multipurpose net. If you’re in the mood for some b-ball, take the net down. If it’s volleyball time, raise the net from its tennis position. You can even have an area designed for Bocce ball and shuffleboard. There’s no limit to what you can have installed on your court. A home sports court is a great way to encourage the kids (and adults) to get some fresh air and exercise.
6. Adding a Pool
Adding a pool to your backyard space can be the cherry on top of any dream patio area. Imagine the hours of endless fun, sun, barbecues, and family bonding to be had. With the addition of a pool, your home can quickly become the place everyone wants to spend their summer days. If it’s an inground pool you’re looking for, keep in mind that there’s a lot of work and expense involved. Building a pool is a significant construction project for which you’ll need the help of pool professionals, excavation companies, and concrete professionals.
To begin, you’ll need to research the codes for pool building in your town. Then, a location for the pool will need to be chosen. Plans will need to be sketched out either by you or an architect, and they will need to be approved by the town to get all the permits required. Utility companies must be called before any work is done to ensure pipes and wires won’t be disturbed. After all that, you’ll be ready to start excavating.
Once you have the hole, it’s time to install all the plumbing and electricity that will be needed. Now, you’re ready to pour the concrete or install the shell. Shells are made of fiberglass and are less expensive but not as sturdy as concrete. You’ll need to decide what type of patio to put around the pool. Consider matching it or making it an extension of your existing patio area.
After all this, it’s time to fill the pool with water and treat it with chemicals. The final chore before fun can commence is installing a fence around the pool. Most towns will require that to be in your plans as it is the law in many places. If this all sounds time and money-consuming, you’re right.
The average inground pool takes at least 6-8 weeks and costs an average of $35,000. If this is too much for your patience and budget, consider an above-ground pool. The average cost for this type of pool is between $1,000-$3,000, and most can be ready to go in a day or two.
Building your dream patio and backyard can be an exciting process full of creativity and imagination. With some planning and preparation, you can transform your outdoor space into an oasis of fun and relaxation for your family and friends. We hope these tips guide you along that path.