quick fixes for a bad yard

Note: Sorry for the poor quality of these photos. I took them last year in a different home, so I can’t retake them.

For the few months we lived in Chicago, we rented a house that was wonderfully renovated — inside. Outside, a garage that opened onto both the alley and the backyard was convenient, except the door on the yard side was permanently stuck in the “open” position. That meant that being or even looking outside meant staring at our cars and garden tools. The trellised sitting area was cute, but it was next to a covered walkway between the fence and garage that was dark, creepy, and littered with broken pavement.

I can’t live somewhere where I can’t enjoy my yard, but we weren’t going to spend big bucks to fix up a rental. So with the help of my very talented husband, we put in some quick fixes that made a surprisingly big impact.

I’ve always liked the looks of curtains on a porch, and anything was better than the current view, so I decided to give them a try. Because they would be exposed to the elements and we wanted to keep things on the cheap, we decided to buy shower curtains. (Also a great idea because there are so many cute options.)

For the walkway, we bought a striped curtain from Target, using a cheap tension rod to hang it. I can’t even tell you how happy I was to see cheerful curtains instead of creepy walkway!

Once the stripes were up, we realized that anything too busy would look a little nuts on the garage. We ended up buying two extremely thrifty, plain white fabric shower curtains from Menards — $9 apiece. To hang them, we went back to our trusty extra-long conduit curtain rod DIY, attaching the rod inside the garage door frame.

Because outside curtains blow a bit in the wind no matter what, I used a bit of picture hanging wire to secure the end curtain hooks around the rubber stoppers on the tension rod.

The final touch was so easy that I’m kind of surprised I didn’t do much of this before: we pulled some banged up and neglected containers out from under the porch, including two big flower pots and a small plastic garbage can, and filled them with several different sizes of ornamental grass. This was the biggest splurge, and probably cost about $60 total. It was amazing, though, how much it softened the hard edges of the yard.  The result was a yard I could live with (for a few months, at least).

From our partners

What you have done here is a really simple and cost efficient way to make your backyard a lot more presentable. It is a way to create more space as well as give it a better vibe. Great work.

The changes that you made give your backyard a lot more comfortable feel to it. I like what you have done with the place. I’m not too sure about the shower curtain though.

That was very creative way to use the space. It’s not easy to create a new vibe on a budget.

Mary S

Thanks for the comments! Yeah, it’s not for everyone, but on no budget, it made a lot of sense. And it was a lot better than the creepy side yard, tell ya that. : )