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The Daily Dish Backyard Envy

The Backyard Envy Crew's 7 Best Tips for Designing a Killer Outdoor Space on a Budget

James DeSantis and Melissa Brasier sat down with Home & Design to impart some Backyard Envy widsom.

By Patricia Cunningham
James' Tips for a Backyard on a Budget

The Backyard Envy crew (Garrett MageeJames DeSantis, and Melissa Brasier) are geniuses at turning nondescript outdoor spaces into something fab. However, being pros, they know that not everyone has the budget to pull off a design mag-worthy transformation. After all, this is the crew that launched its business after staging a stunning renovation of their own Brooklyn backyard on a dime. That’s why they keep a long list of budget-friendly tricks of the trade up their collective sleeves, and now they are sharing them with us! 

How to Watch

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Two members of the team, James and Melissa, recently sat down with Home & Design to dole out a few of their tips for transforming an outdoor space on a tight budget. To hear all of their suggestions, watch the videos up top and down below, and check out our favorite tips right here!

1. Propagate Plants from Friends

“Ever had a plant you wanted to take from your friend’s house, but you’re not a kleptomaniac? Many plants can be grown from a simple cutting,” advised James. “Take a leaf and either put it in water to propagate it, or soil, let it establish its root system, and in a couple weeks, you’ll have a plant of your own.”

2. Use Expensive Material Sparingly as an Accent

“There are a ton of ways to elevate your outdoor space without having a huge budget,” said Melissa. “One of the most important ways of doing that is by your choice of materials. A really elegant material is bluestone. So rather than having an entire bluestone patio, which is a very expensive endeavor, why not just use the bluestone sparingly and build a pathway or stepping stone? By lacing your outdoor space with really high-end material and using it very sparingly, you can really elevate the space without blowing the budget.”

3. Get Creative with Greenery When Laying out a Room

“When designing an outdoor room, there are a lot more options you have to play with,” James explained. “For a sofa in an interior, you would place a side table next to a sofa. When you’re working outdoors, you can place a cluster of plants.”

4. Give Fencing or Wood Decking a Facelift with Stain

“If you have fence or wood decking, another thing I love to do when working on a budget is add a bit of stain and recolor the whole thing,” Melissa said. “So with a little bit of manpower, a light bit of sanding, and a coat of stain, it will change the entire space. I always recommend don’t be afraid to go dark with your stain. It really adds a beautiful backdrop to whatever you plant in front of it and gives it a chic, elevated feel for almost nothing.”

5. Extend Your Interior Living Space to the Outdoors

“Make your outdoor area feel like an extension of the inside of your house by using the same color palette and furniture that’s on the interior,” James advised.

6. Make Simple Repairs to What Is Already There

“One of my favorite tips is to make repairs,” Melissa recommended. “It sounds simple, but it’s something that we often overlook... prioritize the hardscaping. That’s really the heart and soul of your backyard, the loose stone work, the cracks. Fix the loose stone, repair the cracks, pressure wash the woodwork. All of those little things will help to freshen up the space, so that anything you add on top of that will be the icing on the cake.”

7. Save Money by Using Umbrellas for Shade

“Awnings versus umbrellas — people always are like, ‘I need a new awning, we need to install, like, a big awning,’” James explained. “And they’re like 15 thousand dollars, and people think that they need that, whereas you can just buy two or three outdoor umbrellas to fill your space for shade.”

Want to learn more? Tune in to Backyard Envy every Thursday at 10/9c!

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