Our DIY Backyard Renovation and Landscaping Project Experience Part 1

Our DIY Backyard Renovation and Landscaping Project Experience Part 1

Our DIY Backyard Renovation and Landscaping Project Experience Part 1

Our DIY Backyard Renovation and Landscaping Project Experience Part 1With beautiful summer weather approaching, wouldn’t you like to have an amazing backyard to enjoy it?  We did!  Our DIY backyard renovation and landscaping project was a complete success and I couldn’t be happier with the results!  

Our DIY Backyard Renovation and Landscaping Project Experience – Part 1

When we first purchased our home 7 years ago, our backyard contained a tiny sad excuse of a concrete slab “porch” and a whole backyard of gravel.  After a few years, our dogs had torn up our backyard with giant holes.

My husband promised me that we would have a beautiful backyard before our son’s birthday party.  I am so thankful that my husband is a civil engineer and was able to design a backyard layout for us that included a large covered patio, raised garden bed, and a large patch of grass.  It took over a month and a little hired help from some friends but we were able to get our backyard dreams to come true!

Down & Dirty Work

I think we all agree that the hardest part of this project was moving around all that gravel.  It took several days to move all the gravel to one side of the yard so that we could put in everything we wanted.  After laying down new landscaping fabric, we had to also screen the gravel for sand and clean it before moving the gravel back.  It was definitely easier removing the gravel than cleaning it and putting it back.

Setting Up Your Sprinkler System

After moving all the gravel, we had to contact our home builder to find out where the water stub out could be found in our backyard.  It’s usually 5-6 feet under the backyard water spout but sometimes there isn’t one and you must get the water line from the one from the front yard.  Fortunately the stub out was right next to that sad piece of concrete slab in my backyard and we determined that the best place to put our watering system controls are on the left side of our backyard for easy access.Our DIY Backyard Renovation & Landscaping Project Experience

We dug a line that was 5 feet deep to ensure that the line would not freeze in the winter although this depth varies depending on where you live.  We went to our local sprinkler world and they even assembled everything we needed and told us exactly where they recommend placing the sprinklers and drip systems.  They were absolutely amazing!

Laying Down Grass

With the party coming up sooner than we expected, we decided the best way to go was to lay down sod.  We used metal landscaping borders to outline where our lawn would be.  The process for prepping the ground for sod or seed is actually the same.  The soil out where we lived in New Mexico was basically sand and contained hardly any good soil that is needed for sod or grass seeds to survive on.  We ordered 10 cubic yards of top soil (6 cubic yards for the lawn area and the remaining top soil was used for the raised garden bed and garden mound).

We rented a rototiller and sod roller from our local Home Depot and we used the rototiller to loosen the soil and mix in the top soil.  We then watered the area to find any water pooling and redistributed the soil to adjust the ground level for proper irrigation.  We started laying down the sod one patch at a time like brick work and cutting sod to fit around the edges of our design.  We filled the sod roller with water and rolled it around the sod before watering the sod thoroughly and then using the sod roller again.

Laying Brick for Covered Patio Area

Laying down brick is a lot harder than I imagined it would be.  It was difficult to remove all the rocks already embedded in the sand.  Afterwards, we used lasers, string, and wooden picks to level the ground and outline with string where the bricks would go.  We decided it would be best to leave the existing concrete slab and level the bricks with that.  I then spent the next two days raking and watering dirt and pounding on the ground to ensure it was properly leveled.  We started laying the bricks down and one side and working our way to the other to ensure that we didn’t have to cut bricks in the middle of our patio area where it would be most noticeable.  We then spread paverstone paver sand to fill the small crevices between each brick using a large broom.  We did this 2-3 times within the first month to ensure that the crevices were fully covered and this would prevent erosion and also help keep weeds or grass from appearing.

Building Our Patio Structure, Raised Garden Bed, and Garden Mound

By far one of the coolest things I’ve seen my husband design and build.  I am truly blessed to be married to such a great engineer!  We were able to build this with just two people!  While my husband and friend worked on the covered patio area, my father-in-law was able to work on building and completing our raised garden bed that we would use for growing vegetables.  While my husband and friend worked on the covered patio area, my father-in-law was able to work on building and completing our raised garden bed that we would use for growing vegetables.  My mother-in-law and some of her sisters were so kind enough to give us a few of their grasses and flowering shrubs from their garden to bring to ours.  This actually saved us around $250+!  We created a mound between the grass and covered patio area to put these shrubs to add some beautiful colors with our landscaping!


Part 1 DIY Backyard Renovation Progress

By the time our son’s birthday party rolled around, we had completed about 90% of our backyard project.
We used one side of our house for a dog run area and a paved walkway on the other side with the left over pavers.  My mother-in-law was about to give us two desert willow tree saplings from their yard which will be great for taking pictures with as my sons grow up.  Each year our city gives away free tree saplings at our local library, first come first serve.  I was able to get a flowering tree sapling along with a pine and Arizona Ash.  With the trees in, all we had left to do was to clean and move the gravel back.
Below are the pictures from my son’s party and in Part 2, I will have our final project revealed!  In part 2, I hope to have the fire pit in place!

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Have you ever did a major DIY backyard project?  How did it turn out?
If you could renovate your backyard, what would you do?
What’s your favorite renovation from this post?


#DIY #BackyardRenovation Landscaping Project Reveal #DIYproject #homeimprovement Click To Tweet


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  • Cassie @ Be Forever Healthier

    What an absolute transformation you’ve had here! We don’t own our own home yet but I dream of having a lovely big backyard for entertaining! The fact that you did this yourself is awesome!!! Looking forward to part 2!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Thanks! It was definitely necessary after having kids! I wanted a safe, enclosed place for my kids to run around and cause mischief! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Robin Rue

    OMG you must be SO EXCITED. That came out awesome! Our grass is crappy and I would love a better lawn, but other than that – I am ok with what we have.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      We’ve lived without no grass long enough! It’s so great to have with the kids! I don’t have to worry about them hurting themselves too much… now if i can just figure out how to get those grass stains off their clothes… 🙂 Thanks so much for visiting!

  • http://gigieatscelebrities.com/ GiGi Eats Celebrities

    What a fun project! I love love love seeing the progression that happens on projects such as this!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      It’s definitely been such an awesome transformation to watch! Thanks for visiting!

  • Marcie Wirtz Cheung

    I love how your covered patio turned out. My husband and I are trying to figure out what to do with our deck and he suggested doing a covered patio. This helps me visualize it better!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Covered patios are such a must since we live in New Mexico and even though it’s not nearly as hot as Arizona, it still gets pretty hot! Hard to enjoy a beautiful yard if you can’t even see it and be in it during the day. Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Kristina Pache-Ferency

    We are looking into changing our deck into a patio probably in two years. Then I would like to do some landscaping too!!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Definitely recommend! If I could do a deck, we would’ve! But it was going to be so much more expensive! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Dani

    Wow your house is gorgeous and now you have a beautiful patio and landscaping to match! We are hooked on landscaping currently but need to get our butts moving on our patio!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I wish we were able to do things progressively instead of these huge projects that still cost money even though we do it ourselves! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Kindness In Demand

    Wow. It looks like you guys have a been project on your hands. It’s great that you’re able to do so much of it in your own. I can’t wait to see the final project.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I think the fact we are doing this on our own is just so much more rewarding! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • http://clutterboxblog.com/ Angela Tolsma

    Oh I love it! I have never done any renovation before but I love your patio, that’s my favorite style.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      It’s been such an amazing renovation! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Bernetta

    OMG! I love the transformation. I love to see DIY projects because we hardly ever do them. You all motivate me. Great job!!!!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Thank you so much 🙂

  • shoshana sue

    Wowzers!When I saw the fist photo, I thought, is that a desert? lol You have made a beautiful 360 transformation of the backyard. Bring on part 2! I want to see your amazing work.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      It is a desert! It just had to go lol. Thanks so much for visiting!

  • http://www.rhianwestbury.co.uk Rhian Westbury

    Wow your husband really did work hard. My dad is sorting out my parents back garden in a similar way but it’s taking him quite a bit longer to finish x

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      It’s a big job for 1 person! We definitely needed some help but we all pulled it off! Thanks for visiting!

  • http://www.primebeautyblog.net PrimeBeauty

    I’m so impressed that you are doing this yourselves. I’m all for DIY but when it comes to big projects I’m more apt to hire a professional.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Haha, yeah… though doing it ourselves saved us still a ton of money! Thanks for visiting!

  • Nikki Arnold

    Wow this looks amazing!! I have an acre of property and wish I had the time and energy to landscape it haha. I feel like it just seems so wild because its so hard to keep up with a yard our size.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      My in-laws have a beautiful yard and they chosen specific styles and plants so it would require minimal maintenance! Definitely look into it! You may be surprised what an amazing yard you could have and not feel like its a hassle each year.

  • Super Busy Mum

    WOW, that is a major project and it is looking great!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Absolutely! Thank you so much! <3

  • Brandi Puga

    holy wow what a project! You are one brave lady, but it looks amazing! I really wish I could do this with our backyard!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      It was definitely worth it! Plus, I got my tan for the summer! <3

  • http://www.terristeffes.com Terri Steffes

    I love backyard makeovers! How much fun was that! Keep sharing your pictures!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Thanks! We will! It was hard work but it’s definitely worth it! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Hannah D

    well that looks like A LOT of hard work but well worth it.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Definitely worth it! <3

  • Reesa Lewandowski

    WOW that was some major renovation! But, it looks like it was well worth it! It’s beautiful, enjoy!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Thank you so much! Just because I live in the desert does not mean I have to not have an oasis in my backyard <3 Thanks for visiting!

  • Hyla @hylaandpeterechols.com

    YES YES YES! WE are having so much fun with our yard this year. My veggies are blooming and we are making a fire pit I love yard work!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I grew a few from seed and they are blooming great! Can’t wait for the veggies to come in! Definitely have to share with me those pictures! Isn’t it just so rewarding to just be able to pick veggies in the backyard? Don’t need to go to the store… wait in line… tell the kids “no” 1000 times. haha <3

  • CourtneyLynne Storms

    Omg love what you have done!!! A lawn renovation is something on hubby and i’s to-do list!!!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      It is so worth it! Takes some TLC for about a month but the lawn is looking great! <3 Thanks for visiting!

  • JenellBStewart

    OMG You guys did amazing!!! Can I hire you?

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Absolutely! haha! I told my husband he did such a stupidly amazing job on the patio that he should start a side job in making them! <3 Thanks for visiting!

  • http://www.adventureswithfour.com/ Heather Lawrence

    You know, ever year we do a little bit of work in the back yard but its been a few years since we have done a complete overhaul. Last year it was the deck, this year it’s the flower gardens 🙂
    Love what you did with yours!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I wish we did that! We waited 5 years before realizing we should’ve started it sooner lol.. ya know.. like planting trees for shade. If we had done that, our yard wouldn’t be so hard to shield the sun from eating my plants alive! O_O

  • Monica Maloney Heidler

    It is amazing how a yard can be transformed. I developed a plan for our back yard and every year we tackle one or two more things. I’m in awe of how each addition transforms the space. I love the way yours has come together. The tables under the covered porch are the bomb!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Great job on starting early and planning! That is so smart! Plus, it will save you in the long run! We had to put everything on our home depot card, fortunately there was 2 years interest free promo going on but if we had tackled one thing at a time, we wouldn’t have to put it on credit! <3 Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Aish Padihari

    We have been thinking about renovating our yard for a long time now and we just get lazy. Your post just nudged me in the right direction.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I hope so! It’s totally worth it! Thanks for visiting!

  • Milena Milani Barrett

    Wow! We have been doing things one step at a time nothing big like this! Looks great! It’s so satisfying when you DIY!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      It is so satisfying! One step at a time is always what I think we should’ve done haha. Thanks for visiting!

  • Brandi Crawford

    I didn’t get into DIY until I bought my first home almost 2 years ago. I’m so fascinated now. All of these photos look great. You really make me want to do some of these things to my home.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I totally agree! I was down for just buying and paying for services and then I bought a house and that was just not an option!

  • Rebecca Bryant

    WOW that is a awesome project. I wish hubby had the hands experience needed to build me a porch with ramp so i could enter my house easier.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Aww you know if a little bit of google search and some friendly advice from home depot/lowes, I bet he could!

  • http://www.airingmylaundry.com Amber

    I am so impressed by this! Our backyard needs A LOT of help. We’ll eventually get it done. I love yours!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Thanks so much! We love it too! <3

  • http://theglamorouspineapple.com Jennifer Sturgis

    Love how it turned out! We’re getting ready to buy a house, and I can’t stop looking at DIY projects!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      That really is the best way to save money on making your home, YOUR home! <3

  • Keikilani Jackson

    Love a nice backyard porch! You did an amazing job! I am sure it was hot work, but it turned out lovely.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I agree! Definitely worth it! Glad you like it! Thanks for visiting!

  • Marceline Dementori

    WOW! It’s a lot of work but it’s also amazing how it looks when it was done. I always enjoy looking at renovations, it’s exciting to see how it turns out at the end.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      It’s fun to see it too! Especially so rewarding when you do it yourself! Thanks for visiting!

  • Jessica Taylor

    Thus is a great DIY! My backyard needs A LOT of work. I feel like I have more weeds than grass!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      haha, I felt that way before! Take it in sections! You’ll get it done! Thanks for visiting!

  • Jean Standley

    What an amazing transformation! My back garden is pretty good really, but I would definitely like to do a bit more with it.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I always feel like I want to do a bit more and I had over to Home Depot and end up spending WAY more than I need to lol!

  • Stephanay Jnote

    That was a tremendous job. Almost would not have recognized the place from beginning to end., How great is it when minds come together to accomplish great things such as this patio. Good for you!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Truly turned out amazing! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • https://wonderling.co.uk/ Wonderling.co.uk

    Wow you have done an amazing job! The garden is such a relaxing, blissful place to its well worth the investment.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Exactly! The home already is the investment but these added extras just make it even more amazing!

  • https://redlipstickblondie.wordpress.com Amber Marie

    Wow! You got a lot done! It’s looking good!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Thanks! I’m hoping it all turns out amazing! Thanks for visiting!

  • georgiawalsh

    I would love to redo our front yard. It’s dying in the California drought, and doesn’t have any curb appeal. I’m inspired by how yours is looking.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I wish to redo my front yard but it’s managed by HOA AND if they didn’t put in grass the first time and your yard is zeroscaped, you can’t, per guidelines, add grass! It’s so lame -.-

  • Michelle VA

    It looks like it is going to be just gorgeous! When we buy our new house the first thing I wanna redo is the backyard.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      I totally recommend it being the first! Or at least design what you want and put in the trees as the first thing! If we had planned ahead and at least put the trees, we would have so much shade by now!

  • https://heysharonoox.com/ Hey Sharonoox

    My favorite has to be the DIY backyard project. It does look like it takes a lot of work but the end result is amazing. We’re planning on doing a renovation on our landscaping this summer.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      That’s awesome! I hope we’ve inspired some ideas! thanks for visiting!

  • http://www.briebrieblooms.com/ Heather

    Great job! Your yard looks awesome and was so much work. I bet you’re happy to have it done to enjoy with this beautiful weather. Your patio turned out fantastic!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Thank you so much! We love the patio! So great to have a bit of shaded area to hang out in!

  • Elizabeth Brico

    Wow, you guys did an incredible job. As much as this looks like toil, it also looks so fun. I wish I had my own place so I could do this stuff.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      The fun is the fact that we did it ourselves and had complete control of everything! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • http://www.thevampirequeendiaries.info/ Mai C.

    I’ve never tried doing a project like that before. I think it’s awesome how everything turned out, that’s hard work that paid off right there!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Exactly! It was definitely worth it! Thanks for visiting!

  • Mardene Carr

    A backyard garden is on my list as soon as I close on that house. I am used to having backyard gardens as I grew up on a farm in Jamaica and I miss it.

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Wow! Jamaica sounds amazing! I hope you get your dream home and dream backyard! Thanks for visiting!

  • Crystal Gareau

    Wow, the backyard looks awesome. You did a great job!

    • http://www.mommyengineering.com Mommy Engineering

      Thanks so much! We love how it’s turning out!

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