10 Ways to Upgrade Your Outdoor Spaces

Do your outdoor living areas need a new look? See how homeowners featured on Sweat Equity transformed their decks, patios and landscaping then try the stylish updates on your own outdoor spaces.

Perk Up a Patio With Pavers

A great option for upgrading a typical poured-concrete patio, concrete pavers are moderately priced and come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. One advantage of using pavers is that they're easier and less expensive to repair than a concrete slab — if there's a paver that's stained or cracked, you can simply replace it or, depending on the pavers you have, just turn it over.

Choose Clay for Classic Style

For a timeless look, opt for clay pavers on your patio. They're a tried-and-true choice, thanks to their durability and superior color retention. As with any type of flooring, it's important to start with a level base when laying clay pavers. If you start with a solid subfloor, your patio will look professionally installed and will last for a long time.

Go Natural With Stone

Incorporating irregular flagstone into a patio brings a natural feel to a hardscaped space. Not only does the flagstone break up the lines of the architecture, it also provides large, flat areas to set furniture on. The stone is heavy, so you'll need lots of hands or machinery to get it in place.

Furnish for Less

Need a place to sit on your newly installed patio? Consider purchasing ready-to-assemble furniture, which is often less expensive than pre-built furniture. Since the manufacturer doesn't have to pay someone to assemble the pieces, the cost savings are passed on to the buyer.

Heat Up Your Patio

Paired with some comfortable furniture, a fire pit can turn a typical patio into an inviting gathering place. If your city doesn't allow a traditional, open wood fire in a backyard, a natural gas fire pit lets you have fire at the flip of a switch.

Redo Your Deck

Like patio surfaces, deck boards come in all kinds of colors, styles and materials — even the same material typically used for plumping pipes. Cellular PVC planks are extremely durable and resistant to rot, stains and scratches. The tongue-and-groove boards are installed similarly to hardwood flooring.

Choose Wood to Help Your Wallet

If you don't mind a little maintenance, a wood deck offers a natural look and is about 30 percent cheaper to install than composite. Wood decks need to be restained every one to three years to prevent fading or cracking.

Light It Up

Not only can lighting transform the look of an outdoor space, it also adds safety and security at night. LED lights are becoming increasingly popular among homeowners. While they're more expensive upfront than incandescents, they save money over time by using 90 percent less energy.

Plant a Rain Garden

An eco-friendly landscaping option, rain gardens divert water away from your house or hardscape elements and bring it to the plants, trees and other areas that need it. Native plants are generally best for rain gardens because they're adapted to the soil, water and climate conditions.

Make a Splash

If your landscape still needs a little something, a water feature can be a great focal point. Made from fiberglass reinforced with concrete, rock column fountains are growing in popularity because they're easy to install and maintain. Plus, they're safe for children to be around since there's no standing water.