Best Yard Before and after 2022


The Great Outdoors

The yard has everything you need, from gravel to flowers and sheds to grass, to show off your creativity. We asked you to submit your projects for the fourth annual Reader Remodel Contest. You responded with amazing renovations that demonstrated how hardworking and talented you are. Here are your top picks to revamp your yard, as chosen by TOH editors and fellow readers.

These impressive backyard transformations will inspire you to view the entire entry at Your Old House.


After renovating our 1918 farmhouse, we turned our attention to landscaping our yard. We wanted a central point in the back, so we searched for an area to entertain friends and enjoy nature without having to battle bugs. Although we had a deck, the mosquitoes became so aggressive after a few rainy season that we were forced to stay inside.

WINNER! After: Bug-Free Solitude

This screened-in room was designed to allow for standard lumber lengths and minimize waste. It measures 12 x 16 feet. It was 12 by 16 feet. We planned to stain it barn red and green. I used pressure-treated lumber along with a metal roof. The oak tree trunks inspired the design of the door. The flooring inside is standard-lengths of low-maintenance, composite decking. Friends helped to lift the huge beams and now enjoy bird-watching as well as quiet evenings looking out at the trees with us.

Who did the work? I did everything myself.

Before: How to build a pond without a backhoe

My husband started this project over 18 years ago as a labor-of-love. He did all the work and didn’t rent a backhoe for digging the hole.

Built a Pond Without A Backhoe: After

It all began as a small flower garden. Then it became a rock/flower yard, and then it changed back to a pond/rock/flower backyard. There is lighting, a bridge and a stacked stone wall that has flowers spilling over it.

Who did the work? I did everything myself.

Discovered a root cellar: Before

Our farmhouse was built 1810, which is a time when root-cages were still used to preserve vegetables. An unidentified hump in our grass suggested that there might be a root cellar in our yard. It was a chance to see the depths of the ground when a friend, who collects old glass, asked us to help him.

Discovered a root cellar:

It was a very well preserved root cellar, with arched stone walls and an underground well. It was too damaged to be restored by us, so we covered it in plywood and stones for fifteen long years. My husband and I eventually got tired of the ugly landscape and built a structure with concrete, stone and old barn siding above the root cellar. He also restored the staircase and added a bulkhead. To highlight the “new” cellar, a landscaper added stone paths and plants.

Who did the work? I did some of it myself, but most of the work was done by a contractor.

Funky Patio Design: Before

The remodel included earth that looked like a desert, a master room sliding door that could not be used, eight cast iron tree grates and lots of old bricks and slate. There were also many plants that had to be divided. The deck was built by a friend. We then began to build the patio.

After: Funky Patio Design

We constructed eight frames measuring 6 by 6 feet using treated wood. Next, we arranged them and bolted them to each other. The frames next to the deck were bolted onto the deck. The frames were then filled with tons of granite dust. Next, we placed the cast iron tree crates in the frames and filled the space with granite dust. We installed the embossed-brick and slate sections using Quikcrete. Next, we added the posts and aggregate walkway. The grate openings were filled with store-bought stepping stones. The landscape plants were then installed.

Who did the work? I did the majority of the work.

My new garden inspired by Japan.

This garden was dedicated to my mother who died two years ago. Even though she was Korean, my mother loved Japanese gardens so I built a Japanese garden. Although I had a 3-year timeline, I was so excited to get started on my two-lot landscape.

My new garden inspired by Japan.

Friends and family were able to help me get my garden off the ground. My garden has been growing steadily for 13 months, but it is still young. Every spring, I look forward to seeing the plants get older.

Who did the work? I did most of it myself.

A new space for entertaining has opened.

We began with weeds and a dangerous yucca. We combined the vision of our architect with our own ideas and ripped everything out to create an outdoor kitchen, large patio areas and a gas fire pit. There are also garden areas, relaxation decks, a living wall, fountains and other small details.

A new space for entertaining has emerged

A window was also made into a door at the back. We added a deck and spiral stairs connecting the yard and house. The space is now a great place to host large parties. We also enjoy the garden for gardening and relaxation. We had someone else do the metal work on the stairs and deck, and the concrete patio was poured by me. It took approximately a year and a half of weekends and nights.

Who did the work? I did most of it myself.

New Outdoor Dining Space: Before

My father was a contractor and I grew up in a home that was built. This is a complete makeover of my backyard. First, I removed the old decking and expanded the existing structure. Then, I added a lower section with curves. I replaced the old decking with FSC-certified cedar. The screened porch was added with French doors that open to the outside.

New Outdoor Dining Space: After

My wife and me spend a lot time together enjoying coffee or beer. We consider it great marriage counseling! The largest and longest portion of the project was the outdoor kitchen. I modified a Pompeii to have two openings. The lower level houses cooking wood, while the upper level has a fireplace. A built-in grill, side burner, sink, stainless-door cabinets, concrete countertops, wine-bottle lighting and a beer tap are all part of the outdoor kitchen. Next, I added flagstone and paver patios and a cedar pergola dining area. A potting table was also installed.

Who did the work? I did everything myself.

New Patio with a View: Before

We built a stone patio to the rear of our house, with steps leading down into the driveway. We also renovated the deck. The entire project took us two summers to finish.

After: A New Patio with a View

The patio is high up, so we were able take advantage of its topography. The shade provided by three red oaks is cool and refreshing in the heat. We added a natural rock formation in the middle of our patio. It is covered with ferns, and it provides a contrast to our stone patio’s linear lines. We were able visually tie the patio and deck by using the stone as a base for the deck.

Who did the work? I did everything myself.


Dia is the Editorial Assistant at, covering Exterior, Kitchen, home Yard, Poolhouse, and more.

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