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During the pandemic, interest in home projects climbed as home became the center of work and play. In a recent HomeAdvisor survey, 41% of consumers took on home improvement projects to better suit new lifestyle needs. And elegant outdoor spaces where people can relax and gather in a controlled environment have seen a big surge in demand.
If you’re looking to make an oasis out of your backyard, there are many great ideas to choose from, depending on your space and budget.
Here are 10 ways to upgrade your outdoor space — and how much you can expect to spend, on average:
1. Put on a fresh coat of paint
How much it costs: $600 to $2,958
Whether it’s for your home’s exterior or the deck, a fresh coat of paint can brighten up the space, make any surface look brand-new, and help create a cohesive color scheme. Using the right colors can even increase the resale value of your home, according to a HomeLight report.
The cost of this popular home renovation mostly depends on the amount of paint you need, the brand of paint you use, and whether you do it yourself.
2. Install a fire pit
How much it costs: $700
A fire pit is a great way to add a conversation area to your outdoor space and keep you warm during the colder months. These can be built for around $700, or you can purchase a modest one for about $150 to $300.
To maximize the space, buy a fire pit that fits within the yard layout and place outdoor furniture around the pit. But remember to follow the laws in your area, as some local governments don’t allow residents to install certain types of fire pits.
3. Add an outdoor dining set
How much it costs: Around $800 or less
You’ll be far more comfortable in your outdoor oasis if you have somewhere to relax, hold conversations, and enjoy a meal. Adding a dining set or a swing can help you create a welcoming environment.
Outdoor furniture will take quite a beating from the elements, so be sure to buy furniture made for the outdoors using weatherproof material such as teak, wicker, aluminum, or metal.
4. Add ambient lighting
How much it costs: $2,000 to $4,500
Outdoor lighting allows you to maximize the time spent outdoors, increase security, and add style to the exterior.
For about $100, some of the less-expensive options include string lights along the fence or hanging from the porch, tiki torches on the deck, and candles on the table.
Higher-end lighting includes strategically placed lanterns, incandescent path and deck lights, and motion and solar-power lights.
5. Build a fence
How much it costs: $2,841
Adding a fence to your yard can help create privacy for a truly relaxing space. There are several options to choose from, such as vertical or horizontal wood fences, large planters, green hedges, and outdoor screens. If you only have a porch, consider adding curtains around the main opening or adding large plants around the perimeter.
Learn More: Should You Refinance to Pay for Home Improvements?
6. Add a hot tub
How much it costs: $3,400
Hot tubs are a great way to relax and can even provide some health benefits. They’re also a good compromise if you want to occasionally dip your toes in the water but don’t have the money to install an inground pool.
7. Refresh your pavement
How much it costs: $4,740
If the pavement surrounding your home is crumbling or has numerous cracks and potholes, repaving it can help improve the safety and aesthetics of your yard. It costs $4,470 on average to pave a 600-square-foot area — the size of an average U.S. driveway — or $1,000 to $3,500 to repair the area.
Modest decorative upgrades include engraving, stamping patterns, stenciling, adding a border, or staining the concrete.
8. Upgrade the landscaping
How much it costs: $4,750
Landscaping upgrades lend a luscious feel to your backyard. And according to a National Association of Realtors survey, a standard lawn care program is one of the most effective ways to bring joy to current homeowners and appeal to future buyers.
Some modest improvements may include mowing the lawn and planting grass thickener, installing a walkway, adding stone planters, adding mulch around the shrubs, and planting flowers and trees.
9. Install a deck
How much it costs: $7,641
If your backyard is made of mostly grass, it can be tough to place lawn furniture or a grill on the surface and keep everything sturdy. A deck or patio space creates a hardscape area with a designated cooking-and-entertaining space. Remodeling’s 2021 Cost vs. Value Report states that adding a wooden deck yields a return on investment of 65.8%.
10. Install a pool
How much it costs: $51,907
If you imagine yourself lounging on a pool floatie throughout the summer, hosting backyard get-togethers, and adding freestyle swimming to your exercise routine, a pool can help you meet these goals. But it’s important to understand the costs involved, as pools are one of the most expensive home projects out there.
While pools earned the highest “Joy Score” of 10 in the NAR survey, real estate agents say homeowners typically recoup just half of what they spend on this project.
How to pay for backyard upgrades
You have many options when it comes to paying for backyard upgrades, including tapping your home equity or taking out an unsecured loan.
Best if: You have various costs to cover and you’ve built up a good amount of home equity
A cash-out refinance allows you to use the equity in your home to take out a larger mortgage. You borrow more than you currently owe, pay off your loan, and keep the extra cash, minus any closing costs. That extra money can then be used to pay for home upgrades or any other expense.
Cash-out refinances may come with lower interest rates compared to personal loans and credit cards, but that’s because your home secures the loan.
Be sure to shop around and compare rates with multiple lenders if you decide to go with a cash-out refinance. You can do this easily with Credible — and you’ll be able to see your prequalified refinance rates in only three minutes.
Best if: You need the money quickly or you don’t want to use your home as collateral
Personal loans — such as home improvement loans — are usually unsecured, which means you won’t need to use collateral to secure the loan. You’ll receive the loan as one lump-sum payment upfront and repay it in fixed monthly installments over a specified number of years.
Home equity loan
Best if: You don’t want to refinance your home and you know you can make your payments
A home equity loan provides you with a lump sum of money, much like a personal loan. But since a home equity loan is a second mortgage, your home serves as collateral.
Best if: You aren’t sure how much you need or are paying for the project in installments
A home equity line of credit also uses your home as collateral. You can tap your line of credit anytime during the “draw period,” pay down the balance, and replenish the credit limit, much like a credit card. Once the draw period ends, you’ll need to pay off the balance with interest.
Best if: You qualify for a promotional APR and can pay off your balance before the intro period ends
Credit cards are another type of line of credit, but these are usually unsecured and come with higher interest rates. You might qualify for a credit card with a promotional 0% APR.
With this benefit, you won’t pay interest on your balance as long as you pay it off before the intro period ends. This could be cheaper, faster, and easier than taking out a second mortgage.