Creating an outdoor space for dining and entertaining can be a costly venture. In fact, recent pricing estimates show that homeowners spend about $6,500 on backyard renovations. But it doesn’t have to be this expensive to create your very own backyard oasis. With summer in full swing, there is no better time to revamp your backyard into a space that is perfect for enjoying outdoor living.

Follow these seven tips and you can design your very own backyard oasis without breaking the bank.

Take advantage of DIY workshops.

Many home improvement stores now offer do-it-yourself workshops at different skill levels that give homeowners step-by-step instructions for outdoor projects of all sorts. Check with your local home improvement store for a schedule of upcoming workshops and see if any of the projects seems right for your backyard.

Get ideas from online sources.

Design plans are plentiful on the Internet, especially for a backyard space, so start browsing to see what looks interesting and doable. Better Homes and Gardens has landscaping guides as well as tutorials on how to create easy, affordable DIY furniture. Using non-traditional or reclaimed materials like palettes or concrete half blocks for furniture can save you lots of money. And if you run out of ideas, sites like Pinterest have countless images to get your creative juices flowing again.

Avoid expensive hardscaping.

You can expect to pay high prices if you use stone for your patio or paths. For a low-cost alternative, consider using crushed rock or gravel. Plastic landscape edging can also be used instead of brick and stone to create path borders. To add character without blowing your budget, you can insert stepping stones into your pathway to create a unique design.

Share your seeds.

Buying full-size nursery plants can kill a landscaping budget pretty quickly. Luckily, most plants can be started from seed or grown from a seedling or small plant. Perhaps a neighbor has an overgrown rose garden and would be willing to part with one to help you start your own. Check out nursery websites and catalogs, where you can buy young plants for a fraction of what they would cost as full-size specimens. Be sure to also check out peer-to-peer seed sharing sites like this one.

Be thrifty.

Your local thrift store or flea market can be a great way to furnish your garden space while staying within a budget. Keep an eye out for vintage items, including tables and chairs, that could be refinished or even kept in their lived-in state. Old pots or lawn decorations can also be used to add the kind of charm you can’t buy at a big-box store.

Create an affordable ambiance.

Decorative touches don’t have to break the bank. Try weaving inexpensive string lights through the tree tops or along a pergola to create a relaxing space. For a special event, light candles on a vintage chandelier or in hurricane lanterns and hang them from trees to add whimsey to the evening. Outdoor rugs can also be placed over unsightly patio ground, like cement areas, to create a welcoming feel.

Shop end of season sales.

If you know a backyard renovation is on the horizon, keep your eye out for sales in early fall and stock up for next summer’s project. And if you know where your plantings are going to go, look for sharply discounted plants at the end of their season and get them in the ground to get a head start on your garden.

Renovating your backyard can be a big job and the costs involved can quickly add up if you aren’t watchful. But following these seven budget saving tips can help you stay within your budget while designing the backyard of your dreams. Before long, you won’t have to travel far to relax and unwind.

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