8 Affordable Patio Decor Ideas

by | Jan 31, 2020

Your patio is the ideal place to bask on a summer evening, enjoy a brisk autumn morning, or totally replace your living room in the spring. Even a small patio can allow you to host larger gatherings, and incorporating the seating into the decor will liven it up. But even if you’re not a party person, you can use your outdoor space to read, relax, and get some sun. 

You’ll need to set the scene, but you don’t have to spend a fortune. The backyard is the perfect home for repurposed items you have around your house. Check out these clever patio decorating ideas on a budget, and turn your backyard wish-list into a reality.

Outdoor decorating ideas on a budget


1. Build a pallet deck for next to nothing

A wooden deck is a key piece of your backyard-patio space. But the wood itself can be pricey. Fortunately, reclaimed wooden pallets are an abundant source of cheap, environmentally friendly planks.

You might even find that local businesses will be thrilled for you to take wooden pallets off your hands. Often, they will be up for grabs behind the warehouse, just waiting for someone to scoop them up. Because pallets are a short term shipping solution, not every one of them will be usable. Watch out for stray nails and splintering wood when handling them.

It’s much easier to keep them assembled than try to repurpose the planks. But there are plenty of ways to achieve this, from the super simple to the more complex. If you’re coming short on landscaping ideas, utilize the area around your deck for a simple garden feature that creates a nice border around your patio.

2. Make your seating area inviting  

Choosing good outdoor furniture requires a mix of thriftiness and weather-savviness. For example, bamboo furniture doesn’t hold up well in direct sunlight or excess moisture. It can look fine if you have a covered porch but choose something else if it will be exposed.

Wrought iron patio furniture is the most durable, and it will stay in good shape forever as long as you occasionally rust-proof it. Wrought iron is also more expensive, but it’s a great investment. Wait for sales or find it used, and decorate it with comfortable cushions and pillows. If wrought iron is out of your budget, the next best thing is aluminum.

There are also a few ways to get crafty with your outdoor seating area. For more of a living-room feel, you can repurpose a couch as outdoor furniture by waterproofing it. Or use cinder blocks and planks for a creative solution that won’t bust your budget.

3. Plant some herbs 

Potted plants are nice, but an herb garden is a functional way to bring color and beauty to your patio. Many of them will have subtle, fragrant flowers that add a fresh scent bouquet and can attract pollinators like butterflies and bees to keep your yard lively. 

They can also save you money! Growing herbs is much cheaper than buying them fresh. Many stores have living herbs for sale in the produce section for just a few dollars, so you don’t have to wait for any seeds to sprout to get your garden started. Even if you’re a newbie when it comes to gardening, some herbs grow like weeds and require only basic upkeep. Check out some of these herb garden designs for inspiration.

4. Make a Rock Garden

A rock garden is a stylish way to spruce up your patio, and it reduces the time and money you spend on your backyard lawn. While you can certainly buy garden stones, there are plenty of low-cost ways to populate your rock garden. Check construction sites, walk through the woods, or ask a farmer if they have a rock problem you can help them solve

Your rock garden can be as simple or complex as you like. Just go for good proportions! (It should be a feature – not something that takes over your yard.) Check here for some inspiration to get you started.

5. Engage all the senses with your garden

Once you have a source for pallets, you can use them to take a whole lot of the hassle out of gardening. Plus, you can use them for vertical gardening if you have a small backyard. Just be wary of planting anything you plan to eat in them if you think they may have been treated with pesticides or other chemicals. 

To truly engage all the senses, make sure you have at least one plant that will be a delight to see, touch, taste, or smell. And to help your garden engage your sense of hearing, grow plants that attract bees and birds and enjoy their songs. 

For more help attracting birds, you can make a stacked stone birdbath, or upcycle some old glassware. Birds can add vibrant colors to your yard, and they eat a lot of nuisance bugs like mosquitos.

6. Make a croquet court 

Free your competitive side by allocating some yard for croquet. Get flexible with the rules and ignore the standard set up for a more interesting game that lets you utilize your yard decor as part of the course. Of course, if your lawn has lots of rocks and roots throughout it, it may make playing impossible—but a few rough patches here and there can be part of the fun. 

7. Keep the party going with outdoor lighting 

The party doesn’t have to end at dusk if you plan ahead with lighting. While standard string lights or lanterns will get the job done, there are a few DIY options that can help your backyard stand out. Craft some glowing orbs with old light fixtures and string lights. The light strings can be any color, so pick the one that sets the mood you’re looking for. Or get inspired with these mason jar hanging lights. For the seriously crafty, you level up your patio design with these beautiful coffee can lanterns

8. Build your own fire pit 

Fire pits have an enchanting effect, especially when the sun goes down. In cooler months, they can keep your company warm, and they can help drive off mosquitoes in the summer. Fire pits make a perfect centerpiece for your outdoor space, so even if you don’t have a deck, you can still have awesome patio parties. They’re also super easy to build, and before long, you’ll be itching for an excuse to get your fire going.

The bottom line 

Even if it’s the middle of the winter, it’s not too early to start planning your patio upgrade. The more time you have to think about it, the easier it will be to pull it off for less money. Plus, you’re much more likely to find patio furniture at the thrift store when no one has any interest in being outside. As soon as the last frost is on the horizon, implement your plan, and make the most of patio season while you can!


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