This is a guest post from our friends over at National Home Improvement. We consider them to be the premier home improvement team in the Denver-metro area. Hope you find it useful!

Backyard-Deck-on-a-Budget A deck is an important part of any backyard with a view. It acts as an outdoor gathering place for your home.

It can be the focal point of a great barbecue while you cook delicious steaks on a gas grill and others mill about your yard.

It can be a place to sit and relax when your day’s work is done and you have time to reflect in the beauty of nature.

It can be a place to enjoy a fine smokable product.

If you like to tan or nap, it can be a great place to do so while getting a bit of sun.

However, there’s something else that a backyard deck can be; expensive. Building decks takes time and money, as well as either having a great home improvement contractor to work with or a willingness to attempt to build your own. Honestly, though there are great do-it-yourself ideas on the internet, building a deck is not one of them, and if you have no history in construction you will be better off to hire a professional to help you.

Now, without further ado, here are a few great ideas for upgrading your backyard deck on a budget.

Staining Your Wood

A great idea for the actual construction of your deck is to stain the wood.  This has a couple of different advantages to offer; firstly, it allows you to choose a deeper, more rich and beautiful color for the wood you may choose to use on your deck. An additional benefit is that while you’re also making your deck look like it is made from more expensive wood than you may have purchased, you’re also protecting it against bugs, rot, and mildew.  Staining your wood, and re-treating it as necessary, will help it stay healthy over the long-term.

Solar Lighting

When you are designing your deck, you will want to have some sort of lighting.  After all, a deck isn’t just useful during the day; it’s a great place to sit at night and enjoy the sunset or the twinkling of the stars. However, if you’re going to sit on your deck at night, it’s important to have lighting, both so that you can see the things moving around you (like raccoons, for example), and so that you can see where you’re going and perhaps not trip over everything.  Solar lighting is a great and affordable way to provide this lighting.

A few advantages to solar lighting:

  • Many solar lighting options are easy to install
  • Solar lighting is cost-effective
  • Solar lighting usually provides more of a soft ‘mood’ lighting, rather than harsh light.

A Fire Pit

Depending on local laws, installing a fire pit in your deck might be a worthwhile endeavor.  Now, there are two ways that you can go about installing a fire pit.

A fire pit doesn’t need to be an actual ‘pit’, however; it can just be an enclosure that you leave on your deck, preferably one that will not heat up easily and that can withstand a fire.  A nice fire pit on your deck can be a lot more fun than sitting in your back yard and having to dig a fire pit.  A nice fire pit also provides a good combination of ‘ruggedness’ without having to deal with mosquitos.  Speaking of mosquitos…

Planting Lemongrass Near Your Deck

Spend more than a few minutes outside on your deck and you will recognize the buzz and bite of a familiar pest; the mosquito.  They are every where, and as their eggs hatch, they will swarm around any place where people, with their delicious blood, are congregating.  Because of this, chances are that your deck will be a prime location for them to visit in search of prey.

But there are things you can do to cut down on the number of mosquito bites you will end up with over the course of a summer spent on your deck. While some may suggest constantly burning a citronella candle or torch, there is something more natural that you can do to make your deck more enjoyable.

Planting lemograss is an easy way to get rid of mosquitos (or at least limit them) without having to deal with lighting something every day.  It is also natural, and does not give off an odor that will make some of your friends feel unwell. It looks good, it keeps mosquitoes away, and if you harvest it properly and process it into oil, you can use lemongrass oil to keep mosquitos away as well.

Building A Raised Platform For Grilling

Grilling is a lot of fun, especially when you can grill on your own back deck and have friends enjoy your food in comfort and class.  However, there is a downside to grilling; people who think they need to constantly give you advice on how to grill.

A small raised platform to grill on helps to eliminate this issue.  The platform need only be large enough for the grill, yourself, and perhaps a cooler or a table where you can prepare meat before putting it on the grill.

Aside from providing protection from busybody friends and neighbors who think they can tell you how to cook a steak better (never trust anyone who tells you to continuously turn the meat), elevating the grilling platform also allows the smell of the cooking meat to waft further, which is always useful when cooking for friends and neighbors (and showing off your steaks).

Build A Privacy Screen

On the other hand, perhaps you don’t like your neighbors.  Perhaps the purpose of your deck is to provide you with a place to escape the people around you and the stresses of your life, and you want to sit on your deck and enjoy solitude and comfort.

If this is the case, you will probably want to build a privacy screen. Thankfully, there are a wide variety of ways you can build a privacy screen to keep the world out and provide you that sense of solitude you may be seeking.

The most beautiful and natural solution is to install a series of trellises and to plant climbing plants at their base.  Over time, the plants will climb up the trellises, providing lovely vegetation that blocks the view of your back deck. The downside is that this is a time and work-intensive method of designing a screen.

You can also buy lattice panels made of various woods and install them to provie a sense of privacy.  They don’t fully obscure the view, which is a nice touch if you still want to be able to see the surrounding environs, but if you’re looking to more fully block out the world they won’t be the proper method for you. As an added bonus, you can likely stain the wood lattice panels just like your deck, which looks much more aesthetically pleasing.

The cheapest method is to use bamboo fencing.  The downside is that this also looks the cheapest, and in a Colorado home it may not fit the environment.

Finally, you can utilize outdoor fabrics, similar to those used in cushions for outdoor furniture.  These fabrics vary wildly in color, quality, and texture, and you can cut and hem them together in almost any pattern or combination that you can conceive of.  They make for a fantastic privacy screen, though they do not usually look natural, and they will likely need replacing every few years (or more often, depending on how common extreme weather is in your area).