Bitter Gnomes & Garbage
August 31, 2011 6:36 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find DIY backyard remodeling ideas outside of the Sunset magazine aesthetic?

Our little backyard is... a bit cracked-out, let's just say. It's in serious need of a makeover, but boyfriend and I don't have a bunch of money to spend on the project. I have brought the question up with a few people, and the answer is always, "Look in Sunset magazine!"

Argh. I have had a Sunset gift subscription from my mom for years now, and can safely say that this isn't the place I'm going to find help. Are there any resources for this sort of thing that have a younger, cheaper, "quirkier" (ugh I hate that word, but there it is) vibe?
posted by queensissy to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
There are a lot of projects across a range of budgets on the This Old House website.
posted by COD at 6:45 PM on August 31, 2011

Best answer: Fresh Home magazine has some good, cheap, cute ideas and probably some of them are on the blog as well. The magazine itself is bimonthly and hard to find (I discovered it at Home Depot, though) but well worth seeking out.

My back yard is also, as you say, cracked out but we are stockpiling ideas for next spring's magical rejuvenation plan, and some have come from Fresh Home (as well as the above mentioned This Old House).

However. The nice thing about Sunset is that maybe the aesthetics don't work for you, but with regard to specific plants, they're playing into your wheelhouse. So don't dismiss it out of hand, just clip ideas regarding specific plants you like that work well in your zone and let the rest go. You can scrape together your quirks from other sources, but speaking as someone who's gardened in a lot of climates, it really helps to get a solid read on what works where you live. And I promise you, local nurseries are not necessarily going to avoid selling you things that simply will not grow where you live. I bought a lemon tree in Minneapolis, for crying out loud.
posted by padraigin at 6:57 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Apartment Therapy just had their Small, Cool Outdoors contest.
posted by peagood at 7:10 PM on August 31, 2011

Thanks for the Fresh Home Link. I'll be lost in there for days.
posted by puddinghead at 7:11 PM on August 31, 2011

Dwell and Readymade
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:15 PM on August 31, 2011

Go to the library!

Failing that, you might try Googling, "DIY patio renovation" or something similar - the DIY might be the key to something low-budget.

Draw out your ideas - to scale, or nearly so. And remember that whatever you plant will grow and will eventually take up a lot more space. When I planted my yard, the perennials were small - all I could afford - so I planted a bunch of annuals in between them. The annuals grew like weeds and filled up the empty spaces the first couple of years, and after that I didn't need the annuals anymore because the perennials were beautiful.

Old issues of the Mother Earth News will teach you how to lay a brick or flagstone path, build a nice brick BBQ or planters, etc.

It's all fun - hope you enjoy every minute of it.
posted by aryma at 7:51 PM on August 31, 2011

The Sunset website does have some great DIY instructions though. And they have great collections of images, i.e. stone walkways, shade plantings, DIY trellis, etc. Ignore the "wine tasting tour by bike" spreads, and you might actually get some good ideas!

Pinterest also has a ton of garden images. Many of them are way out of reach, but they have great little ideas that can be incorporated into more cracked-out backyards. If you search "DIY garden" or "DIY patio" or "garden projects" you'll probably get some good ideas.

GardenWeb is huge and a bit sprawling, but the forums are often like AskMe for gardening. People have great off-beat DIY suggestions and you can search for things like "zone 5 shade" plants and see what's recommended and why.
posted by barnone at 10:27 PM on August 31, 2011

Best answer: This was asked last year and there were some good suggestions in that thread: "Apartment Therapy-like website for backyard inspiration?"
posted by barnone at 10:28 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Current Sunset Magazine aesthetics may leave you cold, but check out their vintage guidebooks (available in most libraries or cheap online), which can be so retro they're hip again.
posted by Scram at 1:28 AM on September 1, 2011

Response by poster: You guys are great; I am tempted to mark all as "best answer." barnone, thank you for redirecting me to that thread because I had stopped perusing it after seeing that the Yardsmith project had been abandoned...
posted by queensissy at 10:34 AM on September 1, 2011

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