20 Before-and-After Backyard Transformations

Whether your dream backyard is designed for entertaining a crowd or just relaxing with a good book, our landscaping and remodeling pros pull out all the stops to take these backyards from blah to breathtaking.

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January 07, 2019

Photo By: Ryan Kurtz

Photo By: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Robert Peterson; Rustic White Photography

Photo By: DiMauro Architects

Photo By: Warren Jagger Photography

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Aaron Rapoport © 2013, DIY Network/ Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Aaron Rapoport ©2013, DIY Network/ Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Tony Flora/ AP Images

Photo By: Jean-Marc Giboux ©2012,DIY Network/ Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Chris Amaral © 2012, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Chris Amaral © 2012, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Chris Amaral © 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Chris Amaral © 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Jamie Rector © 2012, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Jamie Rector ©2012, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Jessica McGowan ©2012, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jessica McGowan ©2012, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Martin Klimek/Getty Images ©2013, DIY, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Gary Payne/Getty Images © 2012, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Before: A Bit Bland

The architectural angles of this Dutch Colonial Revival-style home provide a lot of character but the ho-hum landscaping and exposed deck isn't very inviting — especially with the neighbors so close by.

After: Ready for Relaxation

An addition to the back bedrooms adds living space indoors while a massive deck shaded by a pergola creates a sprawling outdoor living space that features a cozy seating area and outdoor dining room. A solid wall along the side next to the neighbor creates total privacy and provides additional lighting thanks to a trio of red gooseneck barn fixtures. See more after photos from HGTV Urban Oasis 2018.

Before: Buggy Backyard

Buying a cottage on Cape Cod was the homeowners' dream but the weedy, wooded, spider- and mosquito-filled lot had become a nightmare.

After: Dream Realized

Chris Lambton and crew push back the wilderness and clear the weeds and fallen, rotting trees then extend the deck to create designated dining and food prep areas. Insect-repellant flowers and herbs, like lavender and marigolds, keep pests at bay while a slate pathway and patio lead off to a small pond and a shady hanging daybed.

Before: An Overgrown Tangle

A ramshackle fence surrounds a barely usable backyard where years-worth of decaying fall leaves carpet the ground and English ivy is slowly taking over.

After: A Cheery Hangout

Bright and open, designer Brian Patrick Flynn removed the falling-down fence to open up the backyard to the existing (and freshly painted) garage that now serves as a backdrop to the backyard's new fire pit and encircling all-weather Adirondack chairs. Fresh landscaping and a pea gravel pathway connect the fireside lounge to the rest of the renovated backyard and totally remodeled century-old home. Browse more photos of HGTV Urban Oasis 2017.

Before: Safety Hazard

A too-small deck that's literally falling apart and neglected, overgrown lot filled with leftover building materials make this unusable backyard the family's least favorite area of the home.

After: Picture Perfect

A sprawling two-level cedar deck and brick patio anchored by an outdoor fireplace and pergola provide ample space for alfresco dining and relaxing with friends or family. To soften all the hardscape, Chris Lambton and crew pushed back the wooded area to make room for a sinuous bed filled with perennials for year-round appeal and blooming annuals for color.

Before: Dull and Drab

This oceanfront Rhode Island Victorian home is certainly a grande old dame but decades of exposure to the salt air have dramatically weathered the home's exterior while the backyard, that features sweeping oceanfront views, is flat and lifeless.

After: Vacay, Every Day

A dramatically freshened-up exterior gives this century-old home a new lease on life. Wide steps now lead down the backyard where a trio of Adirondack chairs, new turf and a low border of native plants soften the home's exterior.

Before: An Unusable Jungle

Before the husband and wife team of Home Town got to work on this 1920's Craftsman bungalow, the backyard was showing several decades of neglect with a crumbling deck buried under a tangle of creeping vines.

After: Neat + Tidy

Erin and Ben cleared the decades of overgrowth and started fresh with low plantings of dwarf nandinia, hardy ferns, dwarf laurel and drift roses. A wide, pea gravel path leads down from the new deck to a fire pit surrounded by cypress wood benches that Ben crafted himself.

Before: Barren Lot

With just a few weedy patches surrounded by overgrown bushes this backyard isn't the relaxing retreat the homeowners envisioned.

After: Outdoor Oasis

New turf, borders filled with low-maintenance plants and an Old World-inspired fountain give this backyard a park-like feel. Landscape designer Sara Bendrick added a long, open pergola leading to a shady garden oasis that features cushy bench seating and an outdoor fireplace that can also function as a grill.

Before: Well-Situated but Not Welcoming

As the 2016 HGTV Dream Home, this Merritt Island, Florida home had a lot of pros — a waterfront location, mature palm trees and 3,000+ square feet of living space — but the backyard's abandoned koi pond and lack of indoor/outdoor living spaces were cons.

After: A Private Paradise

Dream Home's designer and architect increased the home's indoor/outdoor living spaces with an open-air lanai that flows onto the pool deck where teak chairs offer more front-row seats to a spectacular waterfront view. Browse more photos from HGTV Dream Home 2016.

Before: No Lawn At All

This Cape Cod backyard, filled with wood chips and patches of poison ivy, is completely unused by the homeowners — even the family's dog won't stray far from the deck because the splintery wood chips hurt his feet.

After: Lush and Inviting

After removing the poison ivy and ill-conceived wood chips, the crew expand the existing deck topping it with an L-shaped bar. A wide paver patio boasts a dining table for six at one end and a shady pergola at the other. Professional landscaper Chris Lambton adds life to the backyard with fountaingrass, late-blooming lilacs, spirea and unexpected pops of color with ornamental peppers, asparagus and lettuces.

Before: Partially Finished Rooftop

When you call an urban high-rise home, your "backyard" is hundreds of feet above the ground. The views from this Chicago rooftop are spectacular but the full-sun exposure and lack of privacy mean this awesome outdoor space is seldom used by the homeowners.

After: Party Perfect, With a View

Interior designer Alison Victoria gives the outdoor space an indoor feel with exotic ipe flooring and an outdoor kitchen complete with a functional sink, mini fridge and granite countertop. Planters filled with mature trees lend privacy while a pergola with retractable fabric awnings provides shade.

Before: Basic Backyard

The homeowners love to entertain outdoors so they added a brick paver patio, small grill and dining table to their backyard — but the only way to access the outdoor area is down a flight of stairs and through the basement making grilling out a hassle.

After: Multiple Outdoor Living Areas

Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri, the Cousins on Call dramatically increase the home's outdoor living area with a 2-story deck featuring a full outdoor kitchen upstairs with a cozy Moroccan-inspired lounge beneath. A massive bluestone patio, hanging fire pit, new sod and dining table complete the backyard's transformation.

Before: For the Birds

The owners of this Los Angeles backyard are folk musicians who are trying their hand at raising chickens. Although the birds are thriving, the lawn is not — the chickens have destroyed the grass turning the yard into a muddy mess.

After: Folksy Nightclub

To better house the chickens, landscape designer Sara Bendrick built a custom multi-level coop then reimagined the backyard as an outdoor club to suit the homeowners' passion for performing live music. She used reclaimed lumber to build a barn-shaped stage at one end and a massive outdoor bar at the other. A dead tree that previously divided the property was cut down, then sliced into 3 and 4 inches discs that were used instead of flagstone pavers to create a wide patio and pathways.

Before: Neglected and Unused

A tumbled-down cinderblock retaining wall, rusty metal drum, pile of yard trash and a lone tiki torch are the sad view from the homeowner's deck.

After: Fireside Lounge

Chris Lambton and crew clear the brush, grade the yard and install a wide brick patio, anchored by a custom-built brick and slate fireplace. A pergola, constructed in a sunburst pattern around the fireplace, provides dappled shade and a bit more privacy.

Before: Too Small for Socializing

This backyard is the social hub of the block — where neighbors young and old gather to grill and hang out. Mismatched chairs, barstools and benches are everywhere but there still isn't enough seating to accomodate the big parties that gather here on warm nights.

After: Ready for a Crowd

To make food prep easier, cousins Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri added a raised deck area off the home's kitchen for housing the grill with steps leading down to the deck's main area below. Bonus: The raised deck conceals a swing-arm-mounted table that pivots out to provide extra seating when needed. Built-in cedar benches on all sides accomodate even more guests while custom planter boxes are a great place for the family to grow herbs or veggies.

Before: Weedy Hillside

With both a pre-teen daughter and toddler, the homeowners need an area where they can relax while watching the kids play.

After: Outdoor Playroom

The Going Yard crew turn the previously unused corner into a family-friendly hangout where mom and dad can kick back in the hammock while the kids play hopskotch or draw on the chalkboard nearby.

Before: Overgrown and Unused

These young homeowners love the outdoors and have a huge backyard but are at a loss as to how to care for it. Woodpiles, that have attracted snakes, litter the property and the small vegetable garden they attempted was soon eaten by rabbits.

After: Beachy-Keen Backyard

Chris Lambton and crew clear the property then create designated zones for dining, gardening, gathering around a sandy firepit and even an enclosed outdoor shower. To provide shade, a vintage ship's sail covers the door to the home while a purple leaf plum tree, chosen for its vibrant leaves and short stature, is planted within the deck. Beachy Elijah blue fescue and other ornamental grasses combine with sun-loving celosia, butterfly bushes and sunflowers to fill the yard with color.

Before: Untended and Embarassing

This long-neglected backyard is an overgrown tangle of 6-foot-tall weeds with a dilapidated carport filled with tarp-covered piles of plastic storage bins. The homeowners are so embarassed by their abandoned-looking backyard that they never invite friends or family over.

After: Tidy and Maintenance-Free

The yard's previously rundown state proves that maintenance isn't a priority for the homeowners so professional landscaper Chris Lambton selects easy-to-care-for plants and opts for maintenance-free decomposed granite instead of living grass in the backyard.

Before: Diamond in the Rough

These Atlanta homeowners love to cook outdoors, but their existing patio is too small to even hold a table with seating for six. But, on the plus side, their lot is huge and relatively flat, giving them plenty of room for expansion.

After: Party Central

Designer/contractor Chip Wade greatly expands the patio to include two shady cabanas for lounging, an outdoor fireplace and even a bocce ball court. A built-in grill and beverage well under the gazebo make entertaining big groups of friends a snap. To balance all the hardscaping, Chip surrounds the patio and fills concrete planters with low-maintenance, native plants.

Before: Blank Slate

This spacious empty lot is big on potential but short on grass or any sort of landscaping.

After: Entertaining Oasis

The Yardcore crew turn this blank slate of a backyard into a work of art with a sturdy farmhouse-style dining table shaded by a massive pergola. Behind the table, a copper water feature provides a relaxing soundtrack while stately Arborvitae add privacy and hardy purple variegated fountain grass, lavender and potted patio roses add color.

Before: Cramped and Too Sunny

With a tiny patio and no trees or structures to provide shade, this too-sunny backyard on a hillside in San Diego, California is both too small and too hot for the homeowners to use as they'd like for entertaining friends and family.

After: Shady and Spacious

Licensed contractor Matt Blashaw replaced the tiny concrete pad with a massive paver patio shaded by a sailcloth-covered pergola. Artificial turf, instead of grass, and beds filled with sun-loving succulents ensure the landscaping is low maintenance. Matt also constructs a stuccoed island bar with built-in barbeque grill so the homeowners can make their dream of entertaining large groups reality.

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