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It’s nearly fall, which means it’s time for the leaves to turn and bonfires to burn, but… some of us are still stuck at home. Those of us who are lucky enough to have some outdoor space have got to be counting our blessings right now—but not all outdoor spaces are equal. There’s a huge gulf between an empty patch of yard, and a fully functional space for relaxing, entertaining, and gardening, or working outside.
The good news is that pretty much any space can rise to the occasion with some time and investment. Don’t worry—that investment doesn’t have to be huge. A few pieces of comfortable patio furniture, some attractive lighting, or the beginning of a grilling space can completely transform your backyard. To stoke your inspiration, here are 24 products under $50 that can help you take your outdoor space to the next level.
1. A classic swing to get the kids outside
Some of my best memories of childhood are of hurtling along on a rope swing, either in a backyard or over a body of water, feeling my body whip around in a way that was probably not totally safe. For a similar, but less precarious experience, check out this classic flat wooden swing that can attach with the included rope to a tree branch or separate swing set.
One reviewer calls this swing “perfect,” and mentions that it works great for their great-granddaughter. They also mentioned that the swing seat felt a bit slippery, but that adding a piece of anti-slip material meant to go beneath a rug solved the problem. One more word of caution—this swing only promises to support up to one hundred pounds of weight, so most of us adults and big kids should think twice before trying to recreate those childhood memories.
2. A bug zapper to make your outdoor space actually usable
Depending on where you live, managing the insect population may be step one in your journey to create a functional outdoor space. No one is going to want to have dinner outside or take your work to the back porch if you’re in danger of being eaten alive by mosquitoes.
This bug zapper can help you spend time outside without being bothered by buzzing insects. It works by attracting bugs to the bright light, and then electrically zapping them—a sort of advanced flyswatter. Buyer Jeremy H was impressed by its performance, saying, “I don’t usually write reviews but decided to after how well this thing works. The night before last we were getting eaten by mosquitos in Florida and tonight after plugging this in, not a mosquito bite!” Other reviewers mention that the zapper makes a characteristic zapping noise when it gets a bug, so consider if that will bother you before making the purchase.
3. A potted veggie garden that can work in any space
Whether you’re a homeowner who plans to live out your days where you are or you’re renting an apartment with a small balcony, you can make a veggie garden work. If you’re expecting to move soon or working with limited space, this just might look a little different—but luckily, there are plenty of plants that are completely happy to grow in pots with a little TLC.
Home Depot has a fantastic selection of potted plants (or seeds and potting soil, if you prefer to start from scratch). My own yard is dotted with herbs, zucchini, and cucumbers from the Home Depot gardening section. When it comes to a manageable and rewarding experience growing produce in a pot, though, my favorite is tomato. Tomatoes can be fairly sturdy plants that bear fruit quickly—reviewer Sarah G mentions that she planted her tomato plants on March 30th, and saw fruit by early May. “Foliage is lush and aromatic,” Sarah says. “We’re expecting to harvest sometime mid-May.”
4. A birdbath fountain for some classic garden beauty
This fountain design is my platonic ideal of a birdbath. It reminds me of walks in the park with my grandmother, or hanging out in a botanical garden. This model is made of resin, compared to heavier metal, and while some reviewers report that the surface feels plasticky, the consensus is that it’s an amazing piece of functional lawn decoration for the price.
Reviewer ChiTownMarathonLady gives the fountain a thumbs up, recognizing both its strengths and limitations. Although she chose to replace the pump with a stronger one to increase the water depth, and also added decorative rocks to the base to aid stability, she still liked it. According to this reviewer, the fountain is easy to clean, quick to assemble, attractive to birds and people, and well proportioned. “I recommend the product,” she writes, “because it is a pretty fountain and makes a very soft, soothing water sound. The green patina color is also very nice looking (I rubbed some black acrylic paint on my fountain at the base and around the edge of the bottom tier to make it look more worn or old).”
5. A hanging birdbath for an alternative look
If you like the idea of giving local birds a bathing spot but aren’t so enthused by the look of a standing fountain, a hanging bath like this one might be for you. This gorgeous copper basin attracts all kinds of birds to bathe safely, without the threat of being interrupted by ground-dwelling creatures.
Reviewer Jmsz says they love the birdbath, and that they got the tri-chain setup after discovering an anchored basin had a tendency to tip over. Jmsz likes that this birdbath has three chains to keep it level, and suggests “getting the birdbath and not the anchoring basin. Have fun bird watching.”
6. An outdoor umbrella for some quick shade
Ah, the sun. Serving up vitamin D, sustaining life… and, at the height of its power, making relaxing or working outdoors practically impossible. If your outdoor space is, like mine, entirely devoid of shade, you can only get so far before sunlight starts reflecting off your laptop screen, or sweat starts running uncomfortably down your spine. With the portable shade of a patio umbrella, the possible uses for your porch or yard suddenly multiply.
This umbrella from Wayfair has more than 2,300 reviews and a solid 4.2-star rating, with reviewers calling it reliable, colorful, and sturdy.
7. A classy rug that can withstand the weather
If you’re looking to spruce up a deck, patio, or paved space, you can make a big impact with a small investment—an area rug can transform an outdoor space just as effectively as it can transform your living room. Not only is this minimalist rug a perfect neutral addition to any space, it’s also ecologically friendly, crafted entirely from upcycled bottles.
This material is stain-resistant and easy to clean, but customers especially loved one feature that’s critical for an outdoor rug: it dries surprisingly quickly, meaning it’s much less likely to be damaged by harsh or unpredictable weather. “What a great value,” reviewer Shelby6718 writers. “We have it on our deck, it’s nice to have carpet under our bare feet in our seating area. If you have furniture, it stays down. I haven’t had any issues with wind blowing up the corners.”
8. A bright garden stool to add a pop of color, no matter the season
Maybe you have vivid flowers blooming in your outdoor space, and maybe you don’t. No matter your setup, you don’t have to wait for the seasons to change to see color in your backyard. This teal garden stool can elevate a minimalist space with an inviting pop of color. Crafted from powder-coated steel, this stool can stand up to wind and rain without starting to rust.
Although this is marketed as a stool, most reviewers choose to use it as a cute accent table, using it to support drink trays, flower vases, and small sculptures. This doesn’t mean it can’t handle being used as seating, though. As buyer Kiki writes, this assembly-free piece is “true to the color, light-weight and non-ceramic so I don’t have to worry about anyone breaking it, chipping it or cracking. It actually holds up to weight being sat on it.”
9. A shade sail, to cool down the whole back yard
Patio umbrella not cutting it? Sometimes you’ve got to level up. These triangular sails, offered in multiple colors, provide ample shade when stretched across a patio or lawn. You can install them at home by connecting them to an adjustable cord or hook—just make sure you have a plan for where the hooks will connect.
An anonymous reviewer has more advice for installation, writing, “From what I can tell it is very well made. The tie-ons are hefty and well sewn. I recommend purchasing on the smaller side than you think you need and then use extension lines to help position it. I bought one that was way too big which leaves no flexibility and no elegant way to take up the slack.” Other reviewers say that the connecting hooks are impressively durable, and that the colors run true and bright.
10. An elegant TIKI torch to bring the mood lighting
These gorgeous glass head TIKI torches look beautiful at outdoor events, but they can also add some functional style to your space for everyday use. Refilling the torches with 8 ounces of fuel can provide up to five hours of light—more than enough time for a potluck, jam session, or romantic at-home date night.
These torches come with a metal snuffer to make extinguishing the flames easy. Reviewer Greg likes that they’re “stylish and functional,” and mentions that “the tops come out easily so you can pack them up for rain without having to pull up the stakes.” It’s an affordable and easy way of completely changing your outdoor ambiance.
11. An individual fire pit for a cozy night
Unless you live somewhere you can dig your own pit, a backyard fire pit is likely to run up quite a bill. But if you’re looking for a portable fire pit that will liven up a small space, this option from Home Depot offers an amazingly good deal. With a compact, elegant design, this piece promises hours of coziness with a gorgeous antique aesthetic.
Reviewers love that the fire pit is easy to assemble, and that it makes it simple to have a sweet little bonfire regardless of space constrictions. “It is somewhat small, but does the trick!” writes one customer. “Assembly required, but it was pretty simple to put together! I have enjoyed having cozy little fires on the cool nights of late spring.”
12. A stylish ottoman for some storage-conscious seating
This simple ottoman is designed with the outdoors in mind. It’s made from outdoor-friendly materials (polyester), meaning it can survive the elements without becoming discolored over time. It comes with a handle on its side so you can easily transport it around your outdoor area. The ottoman itself is also covered, so you can order different ottoman covers to add a different pop of color depending on the outdoor decor you’ve got going on this year.
13. Beautiful string lights to bring some magic to your back porch
I couldn’t write a roundup without giving a shoutout to outdoor string lights. Bright and durable, these are a far cry from the fairy lights that grace thousands of dorm rooms across the country. My own back porch is surrounded by these bulbs, and what makes them really noteworthy is how impressively and evenly they bathe my space in warm light. When the sun goes down and my yard goes dark, this strand provides all the light I need to relax on the back porch.
Like me, reviewer GardenLover finds this strand can easily replace other door lights. “Product is very sturdy and easy to use,” they write. “They’re nice and bright. I don’t even have to turn my outdoor lights on anymore. I plugged these into a timer so they go on/off automatically at dusk and dawn.” On top of that, these are LED bulbs, which both means they’re energy-efficient, and unlikely to overheat. With these lights hanging up, you can stay up late with a mug of tea, a blanket, and a book, and truly enjoy the luxury of having outdoor space.
14. Resilient throw pillows to bring your interior style to the exterior
For attractive and affordable outdoor throw pillows, I can’t recommend Home Depot enough. Home Depot has become one of my favorite sources for surprisingly budget-friendly home decor, and their outdoor options are no exception. The exterior of these pillows is made from sturdy, weather-resistant polyester, while the inside is filled with recycled material from plastic bottles—a green option that also hugely reduces the possibility of growing mildew.
I love this modern, abstract design, but Home Depot also offers similar throw pillows in solid colors, or printed with summery imagery. Whatever your style, be sure to check the build of the pillows—a good outdoor option should, like these ones, resist mold and water damage for years of use.
15. An anti-bug candle that can encourage ambiance while it discourages pests
If an electronic bug zapper sounds a bit intense for your purposes, there is nothing wrong with an old reliable insect-repellent citronella candle. This is actually my preferred method of dealing with insects. Instead of killing bugs, it just encourages them to fly away, which feels fair—and to me, citronella is up there with sunscreen as a scent that shouldn’t smell good, but is so infused with summer and nostalgia, it kind of does.
No bug-repeller is perfect, but customers tend to be satisfied with this rustic looking candle. Buyer Lanie had great luck with the candle, writing, “I have had problems with mosquitoes on my front porch since summer began. I used the Cutter spray and the Triple Wick Citronella Candle to get the job done. It works! The candle burns for days and keeps the bugs away.” Electricity-free pest control with a rustic appearance? Works for me.
16. These bestselling solar path lights to brighten up your space without increasing your carbon footprint
Even if you have limited space, these ground-level path lanterns can provide a beautiful and unique lighting around your yard. With five to a pack, there’s enough to lead from your backdoor to an outdoor entertainment space, or to brighten up the corners of your yard. Plus, the automatic on/off setting means you don’t have to remember to switch them off when you come inside, and the rechargeable solar battery saves money, energy, and the hassle of dealing with outdoor wiring.
Buyer Melanie is a big fan, writing, “Great lights! Cast a beautiful light, with the pattern on the lantern. They stay lit a long time.” Melanie notes being impressed with the price tag, and also explains that if you remove the grounding stake, these also make adorable table lights.
17. A beautiful bamboo plant stand to keep your green friends happy
Is it just me, or do potted plants have a habit of multiplying? I can’t resist picking up a new friend every now and then—and some of them, like my spider plants, are literally always having babies. If you’re in this position, and you don’t have a massive garden, you’ve probably had to consider where your potted friends can live. This stylish bamboo stand offers an indoor/outdoor solution, with a tiered construction that helps ensure every plant gets some sunlight.
This plant ladder has three shelves where you can display plants of all sizes, each of which can bear up to 32 pounds each. Reviewer Holly says it was easy to assemble and looks just as good inside as it does outside, so once the weather starts changing, you can bring your plant friends inside without worry about them surviving the winter.
18. A sturdy bird feeder to attract new neighbors
Just because we’re socially distancing doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy daily visitors. With this popular hanging bird feeder, you’ll start seeing avian neighbors you never knew you had. The locking lid makes it less likely squirrels will break in and start feasting on seeds not meant for them, and the automatically refilling design of the feeder prevents too much seed from overflowing in the tray.
Although Home Depot touts the supposedly squirrel-proof design, there are some squirrels who just won’t be stopped. Buyer FriendOfNature attests to this, writing, “After a month of use I can say that this is a great feeder. However, it is best used on a freestanding feeder station equipped with a squirrel baffle to keep the squirrels off.” Despite this, this reviewer is happy with the purchase, also saying that it’s easy to disassemble and clean. “All in all,” they write, “this is probably the best tube feeder I have owned and would highly recommend it as long as you are not hanging it from a tree or anywhere near a stationary object a squirrel can climb down or launch from.”
19. An elegant patio side table to hold your drink in style
I love the look of this glass-top side table so much, I’m tempted to get one each for my porch and living room. As the proud owner of a glass-top coffee table, I’m already a convert to this design—it’s super easy to clean, no matter what you spill on it, and will basically never get worn down unless you decide to pick it up and drop it.
Customers are with me on this, noting that the glass and steel body means it can withstand pretty much any weather conditions. Buyer UpgraderGirl says the table is the perfect size, and that “the finish seems it will withstand weather well. Easy to assemble and has easy leveling screws on feet.” UpgraderGirl is just one of many reviewers who mention how simple the table is to put together, so you will not waste any time wrestling with this one.
20. A funky welcome mat to introduce your personality before guests step inside
Even if the only outdoor space you have is a few steps leading to the door, you can still infuse it with your personality and style sense. A few plants, some string lights, and this unique welcome mat can totally transform the space from a nondescript stoop to the entryway of a well-loved home.
Lots of reviewers mention that they live in a desert climate and that they love how the cactus image echoes their natural landscape—but even if you’re in a tropical rainforest, this quirky print is a fun way of personalizing your front door.
21. A portable hammock to overhaul your relaxation game
Let me speak from my heart here. I got a hammock about one week into lockdown, and it has literally changed my life. I’d say it has multiplied the time I spend outside by two or three times, because suddenly I have a place where I can truly, truly relax. I can spend hours reading in my hammock, listening to birds sing, and watching the clouds float past. It has become, very quickly, one of my most treasured possessions.
I’m not the only one. Buyer Victoria Prince enthuses about this super bright and affordable hammock, saying it feels extremely sturdy and strong. “I’ve had it out continually (even through a hurricane and other storms in Florida heat and humidity),” Victoria writes, “and it has held up fine and kept its color. I wanted it more for aesthetic reasons than longevity, so if you want it to last longer probably don’t leave it out when not in use; it’s made out of cotton so while it’s held up fine in the month or 2 I’ve had it I imagine it will start aging quicker from rain etc.” Victoria also mentions that the fabric has some stretch to it, and recommends starting out by hanging it quite high. With some care, this hammock can last you for years.
22. A weathered wall light that looks like an antique
If you’re looking for a bit more of an installation project, check out these gorgeous wall sconces. Although this is a bit more of a project than just setting up some solar lawn lights or stringing up fairy lights, reviewers say it’s not a big challenge—especially relative to the reward of seeing these beautiful, weathered-looking lights brightening up your patio.
Buyer AMM is impressed with the price, saying, “these sconces are an excellent value. They are substantial looking, and the perfect size for a front entrance.” AMM says they installed the lights themselves without a problem and love how they look. “They are very bright and pretty and have substantially upgraded the exterior of my home!”
23. A resin storage bin to maximize your space
Finding attractive storage solutions is always one of the toughest parts of upgrading a space. Especially if you don’t have a garage or a shed, it’s easy for tools, blankets, and cleaning supplies to start piling up on your back porch (believe me, this is a constant battle in my life). For a simple, multi-purpose solution, take a look at this neutral 22-gallon deck box from Wayfair. The design is unobtrusive enough to blend in, but a little bit of extra space can make a surprising difference.
Buyer Jenny loves that it perfectly fits her four throw pillows, fulfilling the exact role she was hoping it would. “I never worry about it blowing open or anything,” Jenny writes. “It’s a great height and can be used as an impromptu side table or even extra seating. It’s great for small spaces that need a little extra storage. Assembly was super easy, with no tools required. You just snap it together and enjoy.” Some reviewers say the box is great storage, but would hesitate to sit on it—whether or not that’s a risk worth taking will be up to you!
24. A leaning garden trellis to give your plants something to climb
Throughout my life, whenever I have fantasized about my dream home, it has always included one very me (by which I mean very dramatic) feature: climbing roses. I’ve long assumed this is one of those things that’s reserved for homeowners, but that doesn’t have to be the case. With this gorgeous leaning trellis, you can encourage vines, green beans, and yes, roses, to climb up the side of your home. To me, there is basically nothing more beautiful.
Reviewer Maria is living my dream, writing, “I got these for climbing roses and I love them! They look great and are very easy to assemble. I’ve purchased three more of these trellises for other climbing flowers around my house.” Because you can disassemble these trellises, you can even bring them along with you through multiple moves. Who says you need to be a homeowner?
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed.com: 24 decor pieces under $50 to upgrade your outdoor space