To start your yard project there are a couple of thing you will need to think through before you ever pick up a shovel or purchase anything other than a magazine or book to solidify your ideas. Way to many people start a project only to find that they are in way over their heads or that there is not enough time in the day, weeks and months ahead to get the job completed.
I work with a guy that has two newly married sons with brand new older houses. Both boys have grown up watching their old man build, fix and make all kinds of things from a swimming pool to an acre garden and I guess they thought they inherited the fix it gene. My buddy has spent the last 6 months finishing up what the kids started. They had no idea what it would cost or the time it would take and they had the perfect person to ask; their dad.
You may not think you have someone close who can help you but there are plenty of hardware stores that can help you plan and some of them have classes you can take where you can learn some of the techniques and how to do what you want to do. Personally, I use the library and the internet. It is amazing what you can find in these two places.
Now take out a piece of paper and start drawing. Your not making the Mona Lisa so don’t worry that it is not to scale, etc.; you can get to that later once you have your plan down. Don’t spend too much time on looks but spend a lot of time on wants and staying within your budget.
Changing you yard to something better does not mean you have to tear everything out and bring in everything new, nor does it mean that you have to build that patio, get new furniture and so on and so forth. If you have the budget great, do it. But if you are like most people and need to plan for what you are going to do, go slow. You may be able to buy a couple of major pieces and make that work really well. If you look at a lot of pictures you might just find what you like is very simple and relatively inexpensive.
The next thing is to determine if you can do everything yourself and if so, great. If you cannot then you will either have to get a friend who can help you, learn to do it yourself or hire a professional. I have found that my friends who have the knowledge seem to help me more when I offer to pay them. Of course, if you are on a tight budget, beer and a barbeque will bring many to your door who can help.
The simpler you can keep it the better. This makes things easier as well as more cost and time effective. For example, my son called me from Colorado telling me his mother -in-law wanted him to build her a pergola and asked me if I had any good plans. After asking him the time and money questions, I told him to go online and purchase a pergola kit. The kits these days are awesome. They come predrilled and pre sanded and it does not take a brain surgeon to figure out that it is much less expensive to buy and install one of these as opposed to buying the material and building it from scratch.
So you have to think before you start an outdoor project. Think about the scope of the project, the cost of the project in time and money and think about being able to finish it on time and on budget. Please do these before you buy anything and then look for the best and easiest ways to get it accomplished. I guarantee you will be glad you did.