Plant a tree to add some seasonal color.
Look at your landscape and decide where you might want to add some color in the spring or fall. Choose a spot where the tree or shrub will have some room to grow. If you have a sprinkler system, maybe your contractor could add a drip emitter or spray head near the tree to make sure it gets regular watering.
Build a small extension near your patio for a grill.
Everyone likes to cook outside on the grill in the summertime, right? Build a small pad out of concrete or paver stones somewhere near the patio and also easily accessible to the back door of your home. This will open up living space on the patio and make more room to entertain or place some patio furniture. Plan ahead and make it big enough to fit your grill and a small table to prepare your food on or keep an ice chest.
Add a pondless water feature.
There a many ways to add the relaxing sound of water without having all the extensive work that goes with having a small pond in the back yard. Check out your local home improvement store for ponds and water kits that are available, or look online for ideas to create your own water feature. Usually all that is needed is an electrical power source to plug in a small pump, and before you know it you've got the relaxing sound of a small water fall near your favorite spot in the back yard to sit and relax.
Add low voltage landscape lighting.
Add a couple of low voltage, LED lights that you can enjoy during the evening hours.
Add a zone for your vegetable garden.
Add an extra zone to your existing irrigation system for your vegetable garden. If you enjoy having a few fresh tomatoes or green pepper plants from the garden, but can't keep up with the maintenance, add an automatic zone to your sprinkler system. Now, the garden gets regular watering while you're at work. In most cases, the new zone can be programmed to run (automatically or manually) whenever you would like. The garden zone can run every day if you want it to, while the lawn or landscape only get watered two to three times weekly.
These ideas can be done by a professional or the weekend warrior who likes to get his hands dirty and build a little sweat equity in his home at the same time. The idea here is to make your back yard or outdoor living space a little more functional and enjoyable, while not spending a ton of money on installation or maintenance.
Comment below and let us know what DIY projects you completed for under $500!