Gorgeous Outdoor Looks to Steal

Trim the cost of designing your outdoor space without compromising style. Here are 14 ideas for saving money on your next backyard project.

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November 25, 2014
By: Marie Hofer
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©Cynthia Dodd

Photo By: Hursthouse Landscape Architect and Contractors

Photo By: Mom's Design Build

The metal water feature, curved benches and custom fire pit create a stunning contemporary gathering spot in this California home. A low-cost way to enhance the look of your landscaping and pull the look together is to repeat the foliage and flower colors in outdoor fabric. Designer Jane Ellison says the cushions change with the seasons.

In this design by Virginia Rockwell, lush plantings soften the sculptural quality of the multi-trunked tree and rustic Windsor chairs for a retreat-like feeling. To create this look in your backyard, choose an assortment of one-gallon perennials that do well in your climate; planted well, one-gallon perennials will soon catch up to three- and five-gallon plants, and you will have saved a bundle.

Designed by Bob Hursthouse, this gorgeous wooded backyard has an easy flow between dining, cooking and relaxing areas. Stone can be a huge expense for a large space such as this; to save money, use stamped concrete pavers, which can be stained to mimic the look of flagstone, slate and other natural stone.

Side yards are often the most neglected part of the landscape. Here, designer Pamela Berstler converted a narrow space into a private, shady garden area, thanks to a combination of fencing and plants, plus a pergola that blocks the view from neighboring windows. Shop at flea markets and salvage yards for trellises and fence panels.

A geometric pattern of planting beds around a stone sculpture created this French country design by Cynthia Dodd. To give your yard a Tuscan flair, consider creating a curved bed of gravel accented with lavender and warm-colored perennials like coneflower. Add a focal stone or sculpture to complete the look.

Jamie Durie created this masterful poolside dining room with a pergola that does double duty as the foundation for a rooftop garden. A fireplace above the dining table warms the space. Installing a lamp fixture lends an intimate tone to an outdoor living room. For the best prices on outdoor furniture, wait till mid-fall when merchants are trying to clear out inventory.

In this elegant design by Bob Hursthouse, a vine-laden trellis softens an otherwise uninteresting garage wall, creating a rich, warm environment for dining and conversation. Consider using a simple trellis — and ivy, jasmine or even bougainvillea — for a similar effect wherever you have a broad expense of outside wall.

A wall hanging can serve as a great finishing touch for an outdoor space. Rusty iron pieces brought back from Mexico in her suitcase became a wall hanging in RMSer allende's charming "Italian courtyard." Stone was too pricey, so she put down pea gravel, which is in keeping with the Mediterranean-style garden. Virginia creeper covers the walls and turns red in the fall.

Create a vignette in your seating area. In this design by Robert Hursthouse, a gorgeous urn and orchids add to the elegant tapestry of color and texture. Consider moving an indoor vase or urn into an outdoor space for the summer months.

A stunning fountain is the focal point in this patio designed by RMSer MyFirstDesignProject, but what really dramatizes the space: landscape lighting. Relatively inexpensive to purchase and install, low-voltage lighting can have a dramatic impact on your outdoor space's "atmosphere."

A Stickley-settle lookalike provides comfortable seating suitable for this Craftsman-style home. Choosing contrasting solids for the cushions gives the look a stylish lift.

Patio With Stone Fireplace

Whether you intend to add a 1,200-square-foot patio or simply a 4x4 pad for a couple of chairs, the most important way to save money on your outdoor update is to develop a long-range plan — especially important if you intend to do your renovation in stages. That way, you'll be sure to anticipate possible issues and complications and work around them.

Jamie Durie created a "living wall" for this dining area. If you don't have planting pockets, you can go wild (and creative) finding festive "planters" around the house.

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