The backyard is a quintessential part of the American dream. Owning a wide, spacious yard with plenty of room for kids to play and pets to wander can make home ownership that much more enjoyable.

So many backyards that I see are full of nothing but grass and wasted potential. Sure, you need some open space for a backyard football game or two, but at a certain point it’s time to tackle a few projects and turn your backyard into something truly stunning.

Tackling your first backyard project can be pretty intimidating. Without the right know-how or resources, it can become a serious headache. Here’s 6 tips for your next backyard project.

1. Start with a back deck

If you don’t already have a back deck, it’s the perfect place to start your backyard renovation project. Decks are the perfect outdoor space that allow you to entertain friends and family without being subjected to the elements. Decks are the perfect place to put outdoor furniture, a fire pit, a hot tub, or an outdoor cooking station. You can start simple and build them up over time as well. If you already have a back deck, consider refurbishing it to better suit your needs.

2. Consider financing

Adding features to your backyard can be a daunting task, both from the standpoint of labor and financially. The good news is that adding features to your yard can be a great way to increase the property value of your home. Because of this, financing can be a great option to secure your next big project. Projects like adding gabion walls or water features can be expensive, but can also add a lot of value in the long run. Consider getting financing help to make your backyard dreams come true.

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3. Build a functional, beautiful shed

If you want to enable yourself to do more projects in the future, a shed is the perfect place to start. Don’t settle for an unsightly or ugly shed; build one that suits the style of your home. Sheds can be a perfect place for extra storage, a home gym or (if you have heat and AC) an extra space for entertaining. Put a fridge and an old couch in there and you’ve got the perfect mancave.

4. Prioritize plants

Building a vegetable garden is a great way to foster a new hobby that will provide you with year-round produce. Add trellises and planters throughout your yard to add visual appeal and to fill large, blank areas of the yard. Plants can also add useful shade as well as attract critters like hummingbirds and butterflies. If there are no large trees in the backyard, consider planting one or two adolescent trees that work well with the landscape. In a few years, you won’t be sorry that you did.

5. Add a gazebo

There’s no reason you can’t have a deck and a gazebo. The gazebo can be a perfect alternate space for grilling or entertaining. Add an outdoor TV for the perfect fall movie night spot. Add bench seats, custom lighting and fire elements for a space you’ll never want to leave all year long.

6. Build a screen house

The midway point between a gazebo and a deck, the screen house is a shaded, screened area that’s perfect for summer relaxation. You can even build additional features like a sauna or spa room inside the screen house for even more functionality. This is the perfect alternate space for outdoor entertaining in the summer. You can also add an additional herb garden inside that will be protected from insects and other animals.

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