Budget Backyard Beautification

Budget Backyard Beautification

The weather was getting nicer, but our backyard was boring and bland.  In fact, I didn’t even want to go out there. One Friday night, I’d had enough. I did what any normal mom would do and searched Pinterest for ideas. I didn’t want to spend a lot, and there was no shortage of ideas. And if you know me, you know that coming up with an idea on a Friday night means that it needs to be done by Sunday afternoon. We hit up Lowe’s and got blocks for a retaining wall, spray paint, patio pavers, and sand.

Boring and bland.

We (and by we, I mean my husband), started by transplanting the grass to other parts of the yard and building up a retaining wall because that part of the yard is sloped.

Backyard Retaining Wall

Then came the worst part: the rocks. It sounded great in theory, but after several hours of shoveling gravel out of the back of a truck, it didn’t sound so great in reality.

Backyard Truck

Backyard Rocks Done

I put together a basic drawing of everything I wanted: hopscotch, a road with a sand pit, and a chalkboard. I broke out the spray paint, and started with the hopscotch. I used basic 12″x 12″ patio pavers and spray painted them blue. I drew the numbers with a sharpie and filled them in with black paint using a sponge brush.

Backyard Hopscotch

Next I painted a dashed road stripe down the middle of the interlocking pavers and put them out to make a road for cars and trucks. I made the mistake of buying spray paint for this part thinking it would be easier. But it was difficult to make the lines perfect, and I ended up having to make a stencil from cardboard. You could also use yellow paint with a small paint brush to make this step easier. I used a small pond  container as a sand box.  ote that if you add the sand feature, you’ll want to put holes in the container. Learned that the hard way after a good rain!

Backyard Street

For the chalkboard, I bought a piece of cement board and painted it with 2 coats of chalk board paint. We bought small boards to use as trim pieces. My husband cut them to size, and I spray painted them pink. As Etta Mae says, “Pink is my favorite!” My husband attached it to the fence and anchored it with 2 x 4s.

Backyard Chalkboard

Needless to say, Etta Mae loves her “park” as she calls it. We had plans to add a water table/pretend kitchen, but we’re taking a little break from the backyard construction gig. It’s amazing how much more time we spend outside with just a few little changes. Etta Mae loves coloring on the chalkboard, shoveling the rocks and playing hopscotch. The entire project came in under $300! You don’t have to spend a lot to make a great space for your kids. And the best part is, if we ever decide to make the space more adult friendly, it will make a great space for a fire pit!

Backyard Finished
Beautiful and kid-approved!

Have you done anything to make your backyard more kid friendly?


Ashley S
Ashley grew up in Joplin, Missouri and attended the University of Arkansas where she earned a degree in Finance and Insurance. She met her husband, Jason, in Fayetteville and they have one daughter, Etta Mae. They moved to Baton Rouge in 2013 for Jason's job with the LSU Tigers. Ashley is an extroverted introvert who loves Ted Talks, following politics on Twitter, and figuring out how to get the best deals on everything without paying shipping. If it were up to her, she would get paid to read books and take every college class so that she could learn everything about everything, but instead she pays the bills by working in recruiting for a multinational tech company. Ashley is blessed to have a daughter who is at least as stubborn as she is and a husband who is laid back enough to put up with both of them.


  1. love it! How well is the chalkboard holding up in the weather? I’ve been thinking about doing one and trying to decided what will stand up to the weather.

  2. Looks pretty much just like it did when we put it up! It has held up great! We just moved and brought it with us to our new house.

  3. Oh my goodness I love this! I have a section of the yard where the kids play and have been wondering what to do with it. It looks awesome! The rocks do look like a lot of work though…

  4. City Moms Blog shared this on Facebook and it could not be more timely for me! Until recently our back yard wasn’t fenced in well and my toddler couldn’t play out there. Now we have a proper fence and I’m trying to think of cheap ways to make it more fun for her. The chalkboard idea is great! And I can totally relate to “coming up with an idea on a Friday night means that it needs to be done by Sunday afternoon.”

    • Hi Julie – I would say our yard as a whole would be considered medium sized. The space that we used in the post was probably no bigger than 6×10 feet.

  5. Did you have any problem with critters or cats using the gravel as a bathroom? Our neighbor has an abundance of cats and I worry about them going to the bathroom on anything the kids would play with.

    • We didn’t in our particular space. We lived on a corner and that corner of the yard faced the road. We also had a privacy fence and a dog. Not sure if those things had an impact.


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