Got $100 to Spruce Up Your Outdoor Space? Here Are 6 Ideas to Get it Done

A couple sit on beach chairs on their back patio made of gravel with a fire pit going.
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Don’t feel you have to settle for cheap plastic furniture or half-finished projects when searching for patio ideas on a budget.

Yes, it’s possible to transform your outdoor space — whether it’s a small apartment balcony or roomy backyard patio — for a few hundred bucks or less.

6 Ways to Dress Up Your Patio and Yard

Whether you want to dress up the garden, make your patio or porch fit for evening cocktails or read your latest romance novel in an outdoor oasis, you can do it on a budget.

Each of these project ideas will only set you back around $100.

1. Use Gravel

If you want to extend your patio (assuming you’ve got the space), you don’t have to spend a ton of money or time building out a wooden deck or pouring concrete. Instead, grab a few bags of gravel.

To start, make sure your ground is level, place some landscape fabric to prevent weeds and lay out your gravel. There’s lots of options to choose from, so decide on a budget and see what you can buy in that amount — whether you want pea gravel, river rock, or plain ol’ construction gravel.

To add some visual interest, you can go ahead and purchase a few paver stones and lay out a pathway or create a visual centerpiece using other outdoor decorative items.

2. Design Your Own Outdoor Rug

Outdoor rugs can get expensive fast. The good news is that you can purchase cheap ones and make it your own by painting on them. To help save even more money, 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

Creating a water feature doesn’t require you to dig up your yard or purchase tons of equipment. Instead, you can make one with a large waterproof container.  Your local garden store has large plastic plant pots. You can also grab a galvanized tub from the local flea market. Or, see what you have lying around — a large clay flower pot will do as well.

When decorating your water fountain, make sure to choose plants suitable for a pond or that can sit in water. Or, you can keep other types of plants in their original containers, arrange it however you like and fill it with some gravel and water.

To make the fountain, 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. 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!

4. Create a Shade Cloth Patio

You can get some shade into your sunny outdoor space without having to purchase an expensive pergola. Purchasing and installing sturdy posts and putting a shade cloth over your patio can instantly transform your space (and help keep it cooler).

Add more flair to the shade cloth by adding some string lights. It can make your space seem more inviting and provides light when you feel like spending time outside after dark.

Outdoor furniture including a table, two chairs and a shelf to hold plants are made out of pallet wood.
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5. Build Some Pallet Furniture

Scared of DIY furniture? Not to worry when you’ve got cheap pallets to the rescue. In most cases, you can stack a few together, add a few comfy cushions and voila! You’ve got yourself a nice seating area.

If you want to get creative, you can break the palettes apart and make more complex items. For instance, you nail two pallets back to back, cut another pallet to size to place on top. Now you’ve got 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, putting a new spin on serving drinks.

Your decor doesn’t need to stop there. If you’re willing to spend some money on outdoor paint, consider adding a pop of color with your palette furniture.

6. Consider Stylish and Cheap Cinder Blocks

Pun intended: Think of cinder blocks as building blocks for a wide variety of patio and outdoor projects.

Instead of planter boxes, line a few cinder blocks up along the edge of your patio, fill them with dirt and plant to your heart’s desire.

Other ideas include arranging your cinder blocks into a chair and sticking plants inside the holes. In fact, you can even use them as the legs of a bench and place a large piece of lumber as the seating.

Now, Go Try These Patio Ideas on a Budget

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?

All this to say: Let your imagination run wild.

It’s possible to do a cheap patio makeover if you can get creative. With some ingenuity, even seemingly cheap building materials can look like a million bucks.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.