Our DIY Backyard Makeover

DIY Backyard Makeover Before and After

DIY Backyard Makeover

As new homeowners, we knew we wanted to put in some sweat equity. What better way to do this than turn the backyard from an eyesore into an oasis! People love spending time outdoors. When we bought the house it had a massive 50′ by 25′ garden area that had been neglected for years. It was now overgrown with raspberry and blackberry bushes. We needed to get it under control before they bloomed again in spring. We decided to do our own – DIY backyard makeover.

Throughout this post the links in blue will bring you to complete articles with more pictures including pictures of the finished projects, as well as loads more information on how we did it ourselves. Follow the links and enjoy seeing how our backyard makeover developed and came to fruition!


Removing Raspberry and Blackberry Bushes

Our first order of business was to remove the berry bushes and completely de-root the soil. Let me tell you, it’s no easy feat! We used a hedge trimmer to cut the bushes off about 8 inches above the ground, leaving something to grab a hold of to yank.

The root system for raspberries and blackberries are like a maze of underground Satan spawn. We found it easiest to start at the top of the slope and pull on one root downward, this would typically remove 2-3 root balls and about 10 feet of roots. Mind you, we had 100’s if not 1000’s of these to pull. If you don’t pull them, they won’t stop popping up.

Of course we couldn’t get them all, but we did get the majority of them – maybe 99.9 %! I think we had 5 or so pop up after we seeded the grass. Keeping the remaining spawn trimmed short by cutting the grass will allow the grass roots to eventually choke out what is left of the berry bushes. At least that’s the hope!

Removing Blackberry Bushes with a Hedge Trimmer

Installing A Patio

The next order of business was to plan and install a patio!

After we had cut down the blackberry bushes, we learned that the previous owners once had a brick patio down there. But, the blackberries had grown up between the bricks – it was completely destroyed. That added to the fun of the clean up, let me tell you!

The patio was a fun project, but a lot of work! We used 8.5 tons of gravel, 1.5 tons of sand and 3.5 tons of pavers, making for a grand total of 13 tons or 26,000 pounds of material. Not only did we install 26,000 pounds of material, we also had to remove an area of 17 ft x 17 ft x 10 inches of dirt from the ground to make room for all the patio materials. Like I said, it was a lot of work!

Laying a paver patio

Sowing Grass Seed

After we installed the patio we got right to sowing the grass seed. However, the Grass Seed instructions and measurements were way off in our opinion. We got a bag of grass seed that said it would cover 1000 sq ft of new grass area. We measured and had about 900 sq ft that we needed new grass for, so we thought it was plenty! Not even close. We followed the instructions and using the spreader on the number setting that was recommended on the bag. We did make it across the entire area once with the spreader. I thought it looked like too little grass seed once it was spread, and it was. It was way too few grass seeds. We watered 3x daily (quite a sunny area), kept everything going for weeks and not near enough grass grew.

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What did we do? We painstakingly picked up all the straw by hand so we didn’t rip up what grass we were able to grow, then we went back and got the big sack that said 4000 sq ft of new grass. We spread, and spread, and spread until the ground was an ocean of blue (the grass seed is colored blue out of the bag). Now we have grass (check out the picture at the bottom of this page)!

Sowing New Grass Seed

Grass Seed Lesson: Buy 4 times as much grass seed as it says on the package. Get it done the first time. It takes up to 10 days for the germination process and then you find out if you spread enough seed. Really, cover the ground in grass to make things happen – paint the soil with seed. You don’t want to reseed, especially when you cover the ground in straw, then have to pick it all up in order to spread more grass seed!

Building Stairs

We decided to put stairs and a walkway down to the patio from the deck. A buddy of mine came over to help build the stairs off the deck while Katie was at work, so photos are limited. But these pictures cover the gist of the project.

Installing Stairs on the Deck

Building Steps on a Slope

It might sound easy, but it’s a little tricky to get everything level and square. My biggest tip for doing this, is measure – measure -measure, and drawing out your plan doesn’t hurt either. We built steps on the slope that connect the patio and the deck..and they turned out fantastic! We also ended up building a small walkway with left over materials.

How to build gravel stairs on a hill


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Our Completed DIY Backyard Makeover

After adding some flowers and patio stuff, we think it turned out very nice! It’s time to relax and enjoy the view!

Backyard Makeover After