Before & After: How One Couple Turned a Patch of Grass into a Relaxing Patio Area for $2,000

published Jun 18, 2022
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Before: empty outdoor space by side of house

There are several ways to make an outdoor space more private or defined with DIY projects: You could install a fence, hang a few rows of string lights, add a trellis or privacy screen, hang a canopy overhead, create a curtain of hanging plants, plant a tree or bush, or all of the above.

On the side of their home in Florida, Govinda Carol and his wife, Krsna Balynas, decided to make a seating area, but they wanted it to feel like more than just a “grassy area on the side,” Govinda says.

Previously, they added a blue tiny home (which they rent out on Airbnb) near the back rear of their property and wanted to add equally welcoming “tropical oasis” vibes to this walkway between the driveway and the backyard. They used multiple space-defining strategies to created an inviting space, with projects totaling about $2,000.

“We started by planting the banana trees and building the wooden wall to cover the side of the house,” Govinda says. The added faux bamboo fencing, and they also planted real bamboo around the area. Govinda’s hope is that the bamboo will eventually grow taller than the house. On top, they added a canopy for shade, and underfoot, they added fresh pavers.

“The hardest part was leveling the ground underneath the pavers,” Govinda recalls. “The land is naturally slanted down from the side of the house, so I had to add tons of sand to level it and make it flat. It felt like no matter how much sand I added, it wasn’t enough. Finally after the ground was flat enough, I sectioned it off and added the red concrete pavers.”

The hard work was well worth it because the square pavers framed by lumber help to elevate the space, literally and figuratively. Plus, it was extremely important that the pavers were level for the install of the main feature: the 6-foot-long outdoor clawfoot tub that effectively turns this patio into a spa.

Govinda and Krsna bought the tub at an antique shop for about $200. “We refinished the inside of it using a refinishing kit from the hardware store, removed the old hardware, and spray painted the outside black,” he explains. “Overall we were surprised at how easy it was to refinish!”

The only setback was attaching the tub’s claw feet, which weren’t on the tub when they bought it. “The tub was about 100 years old, and the feet were supposed to slide into the mechanism, but it had worn down over time, and they no longer attached properly,” Govinda says. They ended up reattaching them using JB Weld adhesive (after painting them gold).

“Of course, you can’t have a bath without hot water, so we attached an instant hot water heater nearby that runs on propane,” he adds. “The hot water heater connects to the bath tub hardware through a garden hose and so the tub runs with adjustable hot and cold water just like a normal bathtub.”

Now, the side yard is “a whole experience,” Govinda says. “The rest of the project was mostly decorating and adding finishing touches like plants, seating, and a towel hook near the tub.”

Govinda’s recommendation for anyone looking to take on a similar project is to do the work yourself, if possible, which will save you money and scheduling delays. “You can find how to videos on Youtube for anything you don’t know how to do,” he says. “I’m not sure we would do anything differently! I would love to add to it.”

This piece is part of Get Outside Month, where we’re covering all things out-of-the-house, from curb appeal tips to al fresco hobby ideas. Whether you have a backyard, a patio, or 1 square foot of a fire escape. Head over here to read more!