DIY

A Backyard Makeover in a Weekend

June 14, 2018  —  Written by Chris 

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We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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Thank you to Troy-Bilt for sponsoring this backyard makeover, and providing us with a Hedge Trimmer, along with all the attachments you can imagine, to complete this project. 

If you follow us on Instagram, you probably already know about the backyard makeover we did, but we wanted to share a bit more on that project here, as well. To give a little context, Troy-Bilt asked us to use some of their tools to makeover an exterior space in a weekend, and since we already did our backyard last year, we decided to pay it forward to a family in our neighborhood. And we honestly couldn’t be more happy with how it turned out. Here’s what it looks like now:

Fire pit in the back yard

And of course that shot is made even better once you see the before (same angle!):

Backyard makeover before

Can you even believe that??? This little corner of their yard had not been used since they moved in 4 years ago – and when you makeover a space like that, it immediately feels like you’ve doubled the size of your yard. We consulted with the homeowners on their wish list for this space and they really just wanted a space to entertain and a fire pit–Here’s how it all went down:

Clearing & Leveling the Area
The place was a mess, with weeds, boulders, tree stumps, and debris. It actually looks better in pictures than it did in real life. We decided to save the boulders and used them around the edges of the space. We dug around the tree stumps to find the roots, then cut them with the Hedge Trimmer before prying the stumps free.

Tree stump removal

We had watered the ground the day before, so we used the TrimmerPlus® Cultivator attachment to till up the weeds and raked the entire area clean. The tiller also helped take out the unevenness, so we could then stomp it down and level it out.

Trimming The Trees
The pine trees had become overgrown, blocking the view of this little corner of the yard. Which was a good thing when it looked rough, but we were going to want to see it now. We used the Pole Saw attachment to reach the lower branches and open up the view.

Cutting branches from the trees

Adding the Fire Pit
We bought a stone fire pit kit from a local stone yard and laid out the first layer of stones to mark the ground. We then dug down a few inches to inset the stones and keep them stable. Once in place, the stones were stacked and secured using construction adhesive.

Putting a ground box in

Since we wanted this fire pit to be simple to use, we decided to bury a ground box a few feet away with the lid at ground level, where we could store a propane tank. We ran a PVC pipe from the ground box over to where we wanted the fire pit to be, which would allow us to later come back and slide the propane tubing through to our fire pit burners from a 5 gallon tank that would sit inside the ground box.

We ran the propane line, filled the pit almost all the way with black pumice rock, then attached our fire pit burner. We covered it with more pumice rock, and that was it.

Installing the Metal Edging

Using the Lawn Edger, we cut a channel through the grass around the pine trees. We also wanted to use the metal edging to separate our shrub areas from the pea gravel (which would come later), so we traced those areas on the ground as well. We then tapped the edging into place and secured it with ground stakes.

Planting Shrubs, Running Drip Lines, Laying Bark

We laid out the shrubs, while still in their planters, to see where we wanted to put them. Some of us then planted the plants while the others began running the tubing between all the shrubs, tying it into a nearby sprinkler head.

Laying out shrubs

We ran a small drip line from the tubing to the base of each shrub and adjusted the nozzles to drip more or less, depending on the shrub watering requirements.

Shrub drip line

Laying Flagstone and Adding the Pea Gravel

We originally considered adding flagstone around the entire area, but that got pricey, quick. So we opted for two flagstone paths coming from their adjacent basketball court into the space. After putting down a layer of landscaping fabric and blowing it clean with the High Performance Blower attachment, we laid the flagstones. There were even a few stones left over, so we added a little path through the trees, as well.

We then ran load after load of pea gravel down and filled in the rest of the area around the fire pit and in between the stones. After a good sweep with the Broom attachment, the stones were nice and clean.

Pea gravel

Hanging Lights & Adding Furniture
Even with the fire pit, we wanted to add a little more ambient lighting to the area, so we planted a 6×6 post in the ground (secured with a couple bags of cement) and ran an outdoor-rated extension cord from the top of it down to the ground, under the bark (secured with lawn stakes) over to the fence, and along the fence line up to the house.

We then used chicken wire and eyelet bolts to secure our LED lights to the post and run them across to the trees where they were also attached using chicken wire. The tree was a bit out of control, so we used the Hedge Trimmer attachment to clean it up and it looks so beautiful now.

Cafe lights

We had this outdoor loveseat in storage, and paired it with a couple sets of outdoor chairs we purchased from Target (currently out of stock, similar option found on Wayfair).

Budget Breakdown

Here’s how the budget for materials broke down on this project:

• Pea Gravel – $175
Steel Edging – $267
• Weed Barrier – $82
• Mulch – $225
• 20 Shrubs & Perennials  – $500
• Drip System – $125
• Flagstone – $250
• Fire Pit Kit – $380
• Pumice Rock for Firepit – $100
• Fire Pit Gas Supplies (20′ propane hose, regulator, burner) – $300
• Furniture (on sale) – $385

TOTAL: $2,789

Outdoor space with fire pit and furniture

All-in-all, this project was a lot of work in a short amount of time, but with help from the home owners and a few of their friends, we were able to make an amazing transformation in only two days. And it’s a space we know they’ll enjoy all summer long.

Family outside at their new fire pit

Here’s one more before and after from straight on!

What do you think?

  1. Terri Donnelly says:

    this looks amazing been wanting to get rid of grass in back already had the two sides and back done need a little grass for dog love love this going to show my landscaper beautiful work

  2. Charlotte Srithai says:

    Hi! I was just wondering if there is a trick to get the video to work. We’d like to see the propane tank set up. Neither my husband or I can get the video to play. Thank you!

  3. Christy Sloat says:

    This is amazing! And the only helpful information I can find about building a propane fire pit yourself (we have a daughter with asthma and her #1 trigger is smoke). We want it to look like a traditional stone wood burning pit and you can’t but them to look like that. I was wondering if you could tell me where you purchased the fire pit kit and supplies. I’m assuming this was just a simple hose from fire pit to propane tank, not running a gas line correct? Any help is much appreciated.

  4. Katie says:

    Hi! Just letting you know this link is broken for me and i cannot see the backyard makeover.

  5. Katie M says:

    Hi! We installed this fire pit 2 years ago and love it. This year, we’re adding comfy seating! I love the chairs featured, but wonder about if the white has held up. We have kids. . . Lol
    Thanks!

    • Christy Sloat says:

      Hi Katie. I left a comment just now but I’m afraid it may not get answered. Looks like you did this same fire pit and I’m wondering where to get the kit and supplies to make it the propane. Also, a 5lb propane tank sounds small, I thought most were 20. Did you burry the box like they did and if so how is that working out? I’m assuming this did not require a gas line, but simply connecting the propane to the fire pit with proper hosing, like the ones you can buy already made?

  6. Desiree Derr says:

    I am having trouble finding more detail about putting the propane in the box in the ground (products used and installation). Do you still have the videos? I remember watching them during the project and would love to refer to them again now.

  7. Jenny says:

    We are smack in the middle of a similar project. Did you get the pea gravel delivered from a local place or did you order it through a big box store? Your price listed for the pea gravel is great. Home Depot and Lowes seem to be expensive.

  8. Ashlyn says:

    Trying to do something similar right now. Can I ask where you got your pea gravel?

  9. Ricky Fitts says:

    This yard looks great!
    What are the dimensions of the project?
    My back yard needs this and we are planning on doing this summer for our yard.

  10. FYI I saw this pic on a site that doesn’t give you credit. I know you can’t chase everyone site down, just thought I’d give you a heads up. https://oneonroom.com/90-summery-backyard-diy-projects-that-are-fantastis-ideas/summery-backyard-diy-projects-that-are-fantastis-ideas-14_/

  11. Carrie says:

    Where did y’all find the bury box and how big did it need to be to fit the propane tank? Thanks!

  12. Mary says:

    I live in your area and I am looking for flagstone for a project in my yard. Can you tell me where you went to get your flagstone? Thank you :)

  13. Christina Willett says:

    We’re going to do this firepit project! Just ordered the bricks… Regarding the valve box – what dimensions do you need for the box to hold a 20lb tank? THANK YOU for this inspiration!!!

  14. Bri says:

    Hi. I love the furniture. where is the furniture from? :)

  15. Joseph Onofaro says:

    Excellent!

  16. would’ve really liked your video if I could’ve heard one word you said!!

  17. Mike Bragg says:

    I love it!!! It looks so much better. It’s amazing what al little hard work can do, to fix a place up

  18. I would love to have this pea gravel patio how would I get in touch with someone to get it done it’s very beautiful I will leave my information

  19. Marcy Knight says:

    Nice job, love it.

  20. Abby W says:

    What kind of lights did you use? My husband and I are trying to pick a path to go for our patio and are on differing ends for whether or not the lights should stay up year round and how heavy duty they need to be. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

  21. Sarah says:

    I’m a little late to the ortnhere- but what color/brand mulch did you use? I’m looking for something that will go with the the pea gravel patio at my house.

  22. Billie MelanconBi says:

    Saved your backyard makeover. Enjoyed all your posts, signing up to your site. Looking forward
    to future posts.

  23. Blu says:

    Watching this on instastories makes me respect the work. Yall did an amazing job! I never would’ve thought that this is something you can do on your own!

    http://www.liveloveblu.com | wellness & healthy living

  24. Juli says:

    Love the transformation. You all are great neighbors! How many people were working on this project for it to be completed in a weekend? Thanks!

    • Julia says:

      Sometimes it was just us two, but we had up to 6 people at times, as well. Obviously many hands make light work!

  25. Laura says:

    Where did you find the ground box for the tank? I’m having a hard time trying to find one. Thanks!

  26. Meredith says:

    Would love to have the set up in our yard? My hesitation is that our yard is heavily shaded and leaves fall like crazy. What do you recommend for leaf management with this setup?

  27. Linda Trang says:

    I was wondering if you prepared the ground before laying down the flagstones so that they stay levelled over time? I would love to do this myself too!! Thanks

  28. Marcha Fox says:

    Wow! I love it! What a transformation! Gives me hope for my 1/2 acre of weeds in Central Texas.

  29. Eliyah Ben-Israel says:

    Backyard space could surely use a makeover… your photos are very good, looks good.

  30. Sarah Severson says:

    P.S. – It all looks incredible!!! Amazing job in such a short amount of time! Is it hard to keep the white cushions clean?

  31. Sarah Severson says:

    How many inches deep of pea gravel is there? Is it about 2-3 inches deep?

  32. Breanna says:

    It looks amazing! This is exactly what we want to do in our backyard this summer, so perfect timing. Where did you buy the pea gravel? And do you know what size it is? I know you mentioned it’s comfortable to walk on, so I’m curious how small the stones are. Thank you so much!

  33. Kim says:

    This looks amazing, so inspiring. Can you come do my backyard, pretty please? WI in summer is beautiful!

  34. Anna says:

    Beautiful backyard project and I loved watching it unfold on stories! Do you have suggestions for where to get the string lights? I’m looking for some quality options but feel a little overwhelmed with all the different possibilities. Thanks!

  35. LS says:

    I really don’t think you are supposed to run propane through PVC piping… that’s pretty dangerous.

    • Chris says:

      The propane doesn’t go through the PVC – we just used it to run a propane hose through. The propane is still in a propane hose.

  36. Molly says:

    I followed along on Stories and loooooove this makeover! Looks a million times better, and amazing you managed to do it in only 2 days! You guys are just amazing!

  37. Vicki says:

    Amazing transformation! Great job!

  38. MC says:

    Impressed and inspired! Great work! and yes, if you do more of these, would love to see them!

  39. Christi says:

    Beautiful! We may have to copy this! Did you use landscaping fabric under the mulch as well, or just under the pea gravel?

  40. Gilberto says:

    Looks amazing!! How big is the fire pit? And do you have links for the propane tubing and burner? What size burner did you use?

  41. Holly M says:

    Where is the furniture from? I didn’t see it linked anywhere.

  42. Kyle says:

    What height 6×6 posts did you use to string the lights?

  43. jane says:

    Lovely! Where is the furniture from?

    • Julia says:

      It’s linked in an earlier paragraph. The chairs are from Target! The sofa we had in storage, it’s from Crate & Barrel.

  44. Jessica says:

    What would be a good desert scape mulch alternative? While I love the look of mulch, I’m not sure it’ll work in AZ!

  45. Cynthia says:

    Looks absolutely stunning! Good work to all of you! I’ve just finished landscaping my front and side yards and am looking to install an irrigation system. Can you share which one you used?

  46. Becca says:

    How much would it cost to rent or buy the tools used from Troy-Bilt?

  47. Amanda says:

    This is an amazing transformation. Hard to believe it’s only two days!

  48. Lindsey F says:

    I loved following along with this project! We added a big paver patio off the side of our deck last fall/still working on it and now I’m inspired to install a post to add some string lights!

    That mulch price though! haha sneakily expensive. I really love posts where a budget is included because it’s easy to say “Oh, mulch will be maybe $75” and all the sudden your patio project that you thought would be $2000 becomes $4000. ACK!

    • Julia says:

      Totally. The plants really added up too. But we wanted to break it down so others could see, oh, we might not need that much mulch. Or plants. Or we already have furniture. This was also a fairly large area we did. The pea gravel area is 24×30.

      • CF says:

        The pea gravel area is 24′ x 30′, or that whole corner of the yard is 24′ x 30′. Really like the design and thinking we might borrow it to rescue our own backyard jungle.

  49. LavandulaLady says:

    I’m new to this blog, but want to say this backyard looks lovely. What city is this?

  50. Lori says:

    Nailed it!

  51. Karen says:

    How sweet of you to share the benefits your sponsor’s donations!!! Kudos, kudos. We need more of this in the world. LOVE the transformation – it looks great, it’s subtle and it’s functional! Win/win/win!!!

  52. Sarah says:

    I love these kinds of posts! Could you do a post about how you tied the drip system into the sprinkler head or link to the instructions you followed?

    • JG says:

      I’d be interested in learning more about the propane tank as well….. safety, install, etc. We’ve been toying with doing this but I read somewhere that the 20 lb tank will only burn for about 10 hours. Is this your experience? We have fires a few times a week and would burn (haha!) through that pretty fast.

      Also agree about including the budget – very helpful!

      • Julia says:

        Did you follow along on Stories or watch the video? It was pretty straightforward and really common. The propane goes through tubing, just like it would a grill–except it’s about 20 ft long. The only bummer is you do have to refill the tank (you wouldn’t have to if you ran a natural gas line), but it’s a lot cheaper to refill your tank (which almost any gas station will do) rather than buy a new tank every time.

      • Rosie B says:

        This hidden propane tank is such a clever idea! One hard thing about a fire for us, is feeling like someone has to stay out and tend it until all the coals have died. This would surely solve that! (And while here in WA we can have propane easily refilled at a gas station, when we lived in NJ that wasn’t the case. We had to exchange the tanks at Home Depot or another big retailer. It was so expensive. The first purchase was around $50 and then exchanging was about $20 and a huge hassle to deal with. But they don’t allow you to even pump your own gas in NJ, so I guess that regulation isn’t too surprising.)

      • JG says:

        I did, thanks! I was curious about things like choosing the proper housing for the tank, is it ok to leave the cover closed when in use, burn time on a tank, etc. The only time I’ve used a propane tank is with our outdoor grill, so I’m very much a novice and the combustion aspect of this is a bit intimidating!

      • Chris says:

        We just leave it covered while it’s in use. The burn time depends on the size of your burner, but you can get maybe 10-15 hours.

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