I had big dreams for my backyard, and I was willing to work hard to improve it. But what started off with incredible motivation turned into one of the biggest home-related disasters of my life. I never expected the job to turn into such a mess especially since I’ve done “do-it-yourself” projects before. But this one got out of hand, probably because my goals were two big from the beginning. Sometimes it’s easy to lose perspective when you’re working with something like a backyard. It’s not like trying to reorganize or renovate a single room in your home. If you treat it as such, you might lose track of important elements as the job gets out of hand. Let me put it this way, it’s not like working on one room – it’s more like working on five rooms if you choose to do everything at once.
A job too big – one of the biggest mistakes I made right off the top was trying to tackle my whole backyard. I should have segmented it into areas where I could devote my full attention. I simply spread myself too thin and that something common among backyard renovation jobs.
The big sweep – one of the biggest mistakes when working with your backyard is trying to start from scratch. It might seem like a good idea to simply bulldoze your backyard and start over again. But once you see that big hole where your lawn used to be, you’ll realize you’ve made a mistake. Most backyards have elements that you can improve without having to throw away. So take a careful look and you might end up saving some money on elements you can salvage instead of dumping into the garbage.
The money vacuum – speaking of money, this is another area where lots of people have problems, and I was guilty as well. It’s true of almost any renovation job, it will rarely cost the same as your initial plan. You can get around this fact by factoring it into your budget. I made the mistake of playing things by ear which saw my credit card bill rack up every few weeks until the job was done. I’m still paying it off!
Following trends – looking at home improvement magazines comes with advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is getting influenced to incorporate whatever you see into your own home. Sometimes that results in huge mismatches between a magazine picture and a person’s real-life home. Rather than going for anything trendy, it’s better to stick with the overall theme and decor of your home.
Not asking for help – most do-it-yourselfers are rather stubborn. They like the feeling of tackling the job by themselves, and taking all the credit. But a backyard renovation is a huge project. There’s also some skill-sets you might not have that are necessary to do things properly. For example, whenever you’re working with electronics as you would with outdoor lighting, it’s best to hire someone unless you’re an expert. Same thing goes for outdoor watering, alarm systems, or paving.
Know the rules – this isn’t a mistake that happened to me, but my neighbor got in trouble for not checking the bylaws regarding trees in his backyard. He had one of those newer big gas grills that needed more space, so he decided to build a bigger patio. In the process, he cut down a tree, and it ended up being against the rules. He had to pay a huge fine, and it was much more than the initial cost of his new patio. So be careful, and make sure that you check with local regulations before you start a major project.