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How to Create Your Own Affordable Backyard Oasis

A backyard oasis is a retreat, a beautiful, refreshing spot that helps you escape from summer’s heat, the stress of life, or stretches of boredom. With some helpful tips and good ideas, you can create your own backyard oasis in a way that’s affordable and fun.

Create your own backyard oasis

Choose the space

Start by choosing the space you want to use. It’s okay if you don’t have much room. This space doesn’t have to be big to be cool and refreshing. If you can use an area with natural shade, that will make setup easier. If not, though, you can create your own shade with awnings and umbrellas. 

Define the perimeter

Decide how big you want to make the space right now. Remember, you can always expand later. For now, think about setting up a space that’s large enough to comfortably use and maintain. Then mark the perimeter in some way to set this space apart from the rest of your backyard: 

  • A large outdoor rug (or a few smaller outdoor rugs grouped together)
  • String lights hung around the perimeter of the space
  • An outdoor or bunting hung on poles
  • Pathway lights installed around the area
  • Potted plants to create a “wall” of greenery
  • A ring of large stones or even concrete blocks
  • Lay down gravel, mulch, or other ground covers.

Create more shade

If you’ve chosen a naturally shaded area, you’ll have less to do here. But you still want to track the sun’s movement and how much shade is available in different parts of the day. When will you be most likely to use your backyard oasis? What is the angle of the sun at that time? Will you use it at different times of day on weekends and holidays? 

You want the oasis to be cool and comfortable, so look into affordable options to create or optimize shade: 

  • Smaller patio umbrellas placed strategically around the area
  • Outdoor sails that you can attach with wires to nearby support points
  • A section of trellis or lightweight wireframe; plant vines beneath it
  • Tall fast-growing plants (such as grasses or bamboo) in pots

If you have a structure nearby or can install mounting poles, you can also hang bamboo shades, lightweight awnings, or curtains to block the sun.

Set up a water feature

A key element for any oasis is a water feature, and this is also where things start to get pricey. The good news is there are lots of options. You can still enjoy having water nearby even if an in-ground pool isn’t in your budget (or wouldn’t fit in your backyard!). Start with something as simple as a standing outdoor fountain. If you don’t like any of the options, consider buying a water pump and building your own simple outdoor fountain

One of the most popular backyard oasis ideas is building a natural pond. Ponds can be quite small and any shape, so you can adapt them to your space. They can hold a variety of aquatic plants and water features. Add some affordable outdoor lighting for color and visual interest at night.  

Get comfortable seating

What’s your favorite way to lounge outdoors? You have so many options here: a swing, a hammock or hammock chair. Lounge chairs, typically used by the pool, work great in an oasis and add to the vibe. If you already have comfortable outdoor furniture, give it a refresh and move it to your new chill spot. Clean thoroughly. Maybe give it a new coat of paint and add a new cushion or fresh cushion covers. You can also shop for well-loved, used outdoor furniture and do the same thing. Bring it home, make it your own, and get ready to lounge. 

Backyard oasis ideas

You’ve got all the essential elements in place with shade, water, and seating. Now pick and choose from this list of ideas to make it even better. 

  • Purchase (or make your own) outdoor cushions and pile them up in a corner, or store nearby for easy access.  
  • Add string lights anywhere and everywhere to make it a magical experience at night. 
  • Choose indigenous plants in nearby landscaping, or decorate containers. They’re easier to maintain and more sustainable. 
  • Add a small table or a couple of foldable trays for easy snacking.
  • Outdoor bar? Create your own beverage cart. If you’re handy, you can build one; or look for an affordable and sturdy rolling cart, paint it, and stock it with your favorite beverages and supplies. 
  • Add small elements that create luxury and ease, like battery-powered handheld fans you can clamp to seating or free-standing beverage holders. 
  • Don’t forget the music. There are lots of affordable Bluetooth speakers that have long battery life and a good sound. 
  • Flowering annuals bring color and life to the area. Add planters and keep them fresh. 
  • Consider growing fresh herbs in planters, too, or in nearby areas. Not only do they look great, many also have great scents that will carry across your oasis. Some even help repel insects. 
  • Get a small waterproof storage container to hold a few outdoor lounging essentials, like insect repellant, magazines, and sunglasses.

You don’t have to spend loads of money to set up a backyard oasis that’s refreshing and fun. Get creative, and start with the elements that bring you the most joy. Then add on, little by little. We’re here to help with outdoor lighting in the St. Louis area–so if you need some bistro lights, water feature lights, or landscape spotlighting to enhance that backyard oasis, get in touch!

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