50 cheap ways to improve your home, garage, & backyard with almost no effort

Save your precious time and your money.

ByChristina X. Wood
Originally Published: 
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Home upgrades can often be expensive and messy. They may even require you to invite strangers, dust, and chaos into your home for extended periods of time. But not all home improvements require a hefty budget and construction workers. Some are so simple and easy to implement that you will wonder why you waited so long! If you want your home to look better, function more efficiently, and enhance your modern lifestyle, here are 50 cheap ways to improve your home, garage, and backyard with almost no effort.


Create privacy on your patio

Create privacy on your patio by attaching this balcony privacy screen cover to the railing. It zip ties right to your rails provides an opaque visual barrier, and is durable enough to survive out in the elements. “It has added some filtered shade for plants, cut down on what the dog can see and react to, and also provides privacy without cutting off the breeze, sunshine, or lovely treetops and sky,” said one reviewer.


Mount the bikes on the wall

This clever wall-mounted bike rack stores two bikes in a small footprint. According to reviewers, it’s easy to get the bikes down to ride them. Just unhook the front tire and go. “Makes the garage look much neater and now there is no risk of anything tipping the bikes over,” says one reviewer.


Invite the birds to your deck

This deck-mounted birdbath brings the birds — and their waterborne antics — up close so you can get to know the local wildlife. It clamps easily to your deck railing and the bowl pops out so you can fill it at the sink or hose and easily empty it for cleaning. “The birds enjoy it and they look so cute!” said one reviewer.


Create shade wherever you need it

Create a patch of shade by the pool, on your patio, or wherever you want it by mounting this sun shade sail to a corner of the house or a tree. The triangular canopy has D-rings on the three corners, is made of a high-density fabric that blocks 95% of UV rays, and allows airflow so you don’t cook under it. It also looks great and comes in six colors and lots of sizes. You can even take it camping with you in its own carry bag.


Hang everything on the garage walls to create more space

Hang everything from tools to bicycles on the wall of your garage or storage shed and you will create easy-to-access storage while freeing up your floorspace. This set of 12 garage storage hooks in five different sizes has every hook you need. Take on a big garage reorganization project or just keep them in your toolbox so you can hang things without a trip to the hardware store.


Keep the floors clean and organized with this shoe tray

Taking your shoes off when you come into the house is a great way to keep the floors clean. Putting them into this shoe tray is even better. It keeps mud, dirt, and water off your floors and keeps the shoes in one organized place to minimize clutter. It’s also useful as a potty-training tool for puppies or as a litter catcher under the cat’s litter box.


Use a sprinkler to make watering less time consuming

This rotation sprinkler makes watering the lawn and garden so simple, you can do it while resting in your Adirondack chair with a cup of coffee. Just set the sprinkler on the grass, adjust the spray nozzles to hit the area that needs water, and sit back as it does all the work.


Use these decorative exterior accents to create curb appeal

This hack might be the easiest, cleverest home upgrade available for $17. Just slap these decorative garage door accents on your garage door to create the illusion that you have fancy hinges and handles. It’s surprising how drastically they improve your home’s curb appeal. “It took less than 10 minutes to put these [on] and they totally changed the look of my garage/house,” said one reviewer.


Turn an unused corner into tool storage

Turn a corner of your garage or mud room into a corral for all your long-handled tools, mops, and brooms by snugging this corner tool tower into it. It holds up to 30 tools in a space that you likely weren’t using for anything else and sits on lockable casters so it’s easy to move. “My gardening tools are finally organized and so much more accessible,” said one reviewer. “I actually feel inspired to do more gardening work and the yard is looking MUCH better for it.”


Use solar lights to create atmosphere

Lighting makes any space more livable. This set of six solar garden lights makes it easy to illuminate your outdoor spaces. Just push the stakes into the ground and let the sun power them by charging them up during the day. When the sun goes down, these come on and glow for hours. There’s no need to run wires or worry about turning them on and off. Just set them and forget them.


Make your garage door smarter

Ever found yourself an hour away from home, wondering if you closed the garage door? Install this smart garage door opener and you can pull out your phone and check. Then close it right from where you are. It’s easy to install because it connects to your current garage door opener. It will alert you if the garage door opens or closes, too, so you can use it to monitor people coming and going via the garage.


Get rid of flies with this easy hack

Don’t let the flies ruin your next outdoor gathering. The solution is to fill these fly traps with water and hang them nearby (but out of sight). The bait lures the flies away from your gathering and into the bags, where they drown. Just throw the bag away when your event is over. Over 28,000 shoppers have awarded these traps five stars on Amazon.


Create compact & easy storage for brooms & mops

Create a broom storage area anywhere you have a bit of unused wall space by mounting this mop and broom holder there. Brooms, mops, rakes, and other handled tools snap into the three clamps. Gloves, rags, dusters, and more hang on the hooks. “This holder is great in my laundry room to hold brooms, dust pans, mop and I love the hooks to hang smaller items.” said one reviewer. “ I will purchase another for my shop to hang my shovels and rakes on. Super simple installation.”


Make it easy to turn on the outdoor lights

Make all your outdoor lights easy to turn on and off without even going outside. Plug them into the three grounded plugs on this outdoor timer and you can operate with a remote. When you want the lights on, aim the remote at the yard and click. You can set the lights to turn off after a few hours, too, so you don’t have to remember to turn them off.


Install a fun game to play at parties

Wherever your people gather, hang this hook-and-ring game to give the space a surf vibe and an addictive game to play. The rules are simple yet difficult to master — the foundation of all excellent games. “This is the best game ever, it occupied my husband and his friends for actual hours,” said one reviewer. “There is something so genius about the simplicity of this game.”


Make it easy to store hoses & extension cords

Boasting more than 11,000 five-star ratings, these storage straps make unwieldy items — such as hoses, extension cords, and tools — easy to carry and store. Wrap one around a coiled hose or cord to hold it together while you carry it, or hang it from a hook.


Keep pantry moths from taking over

If moths get into your grains, they can lay eggs and destroy an entire pantry full of flour, oats, rice, cereal, and more. So hang these pantry moth traps in there so bugs make a beeline for the pheromone bait in the traps instead of for your grains.


Make parties festive with stylish string lights

Redecorate your outdoor space with 48 feet of string lights decked with 16 bulbs that look like vintage Edison bulbs. They are dimmable and provide a soft, amber glow. There is a hook above each socket to make hanging them easy. “They are really well made, real glass bulbs, thick, heavy-duty wire.” said one reviewer. “They look great outside! It’s plenty of light to see what you’re doing, but not so bright that it’s annoying at night.”


Use a doormat to keep the house clean from outside dirt

A good doormat like this one will keep your home cleaner, prevent slips and falls, and define your entryway The muted colors, choice of sizes, and easy-to-watch polypropylene material make this the no-hassle doormat you have been looking for. Available in seven colors (and two sizes), it features a simple yet attractive design. It’s also waterproof and suitable for both indoors and outdoors.


Give hummingbirds nectar so they visit often

It’s not hard to attract hummingbirds to your garden. Just fill this hummingbird feeder with nectar, sugar, and water and they will come. This feeder is bright red, which tells the birds this is a good place to dine. It hangs easily and is easy to clean and fill. “The hummingbirds just love this feeder. I love it because of the gasket,” said one reviewer. “It DOES NOT LEAK!”


Create a fast & cheap herb garden

Having homegrown, fresh herbs is a total game-changer, and this easy-to-grow garden kit is a great and easy way to start. It comes with everything you need to grow four common herbs — parsley, basil, thyme, and cilantro — in your kitchen, including soil and plant bags. It’s a popular Amazon option with over 2,000 five-star reviews.


Target & remove weeds

Remove weeds from your garden or lawn with the help of this handy dandelion weeder. Despite its name, it can remove so much more than unwanted yellow flowers. It can dig up the entire root up from a variety of weeds, and the slim design of this tool means that nearby plants you want around won’t be disturbed.


Light your deck or stairs with the right lights

These clever solar deck lights are designed to snug onto the top of a fence, edge of a deck, or stair riser to provide essential lighting right where you need it. You can attach them with screws or adhesive. Once installed, they require nothing from you. They charge up via sunlight during the day, turn on at sunset, and glow until they run out of power in the wee hours.


Keep bugs out with this clever screen door

When the warm weather begs for you to throw open all the doors, keep the bugs out by handing this clever magnetic screen door. The two rows of magnets in the center panels attract each other so the curtain closes after anyone (including your pet) walks through. The fine mesh keeps out even the smallest flying insects.


Create cozy lighting while chasing away mosquitos

When the sun sets on your next outdoor gathering, pull out these three pretty citronella candles, light them up, and create pleasant lighting while discouraging unwelcome mosquitos from crashing the party. Each bowl has three wicks and enough scented wax to burn for up to 100 hours. A hint of lemon is added to the citronella so the humans will enjoy the light and scent.


Make your flower beds whimsical with firefly lighting

Create a whimsical light display in your garden by sticking these cute solar garden lights into the soil. The sun charges them while the wind causes them to sway. They look like fireflies have visited your garden after dark. “Perfect garden bling!” said one reviewer. “[They] add a little drama to a patch of ferns or other plantings that are of similar height [and] are whimsical and dreamy around my patio at night.”


Hang a comfy hammock in the garden

Find a sturdy branch, hang this hammock chair from it, and disappear into a pastoral afternoon of napping and reading in your own private, outdoor sanctuary. It hangs from one point so it’s easy to install and has a roomy interior side pocket to stash your book, phone, or Kindle in. It comes in five colors and two sizes. Plus, it works well indoors, too.


Create an outdoor sculpture with lights & a watering can

Create a sculptural light display in your garden by assembling this watering can lantern with a shepherd’s hook and fairy lights. It’s quick and easy to set up and will light up a flower garden or other features beautifully every night, charging during the day and turning itself on at dusk. “We have it staged within flowers in the yard,” said one reviewer. “It gives the appearance that water is flowing out of the water bucket and onto the flowers.”


Illuminate outdoor meals under a patio umbrella

Snap this battery-powered patio umbrella light onto the pole of your patio umbrella to light your gatherings without hauling out candles or lanterns. Just touch the side button to turn on its 24 LEDs and adjust the brightness to three levels. The energy-saving LEDs are long-lasting, too (just provide your own AAs).


Use river rocks for practical & beautiful paths & gardens

There are so many possibilities for these decorative river rocks in your outdoor space. Use them along your paths, flowerbeds, ponds, potted plants, and tabletop decor to create a natural look that is durable, easy to clean, and aesthetically pleasing. Choose from three sizes of pebble and four color schemes to create exactly the look you want.


Cover your outdoor meals to keep flies away

Don’t let flies ruin the food at your outdoor parties. This pack of six food covers drops over each of your dishes — large and small — to keep them safe from flying invaders. They fold like an umbrella and fit into a slender bag to cart them to the picnic. A handle on top makes it easy to access the food underneath.


Turn any pillow into weatherproof outdoor decor

Turn any pair of pillows or pillow inserts into weatherproof outdoor cushions by zipping these two waterproof pillow covers over them. They come in six sizes and 25 colors so you can decorate your outdoor space in a palette you love. If they get dirty out there, unzip them and run them through the wash.


Cover your patio furniture to protect it from the elements

Cover your patio furniture when you aren’t using it with this waterproof patio sofa and loveseat cover. It will protect your seating from rain, UV rays, and other damaging outdoor elements. Air vents stop them from blowing away or collecting condensation and handles make it easy to pull the covers off when you want to sit. Choose from three sizes.


Turn hot beverages into iced ones in seconds

When you want iced coffee but all you have is fresh-brewed hot coffee, pull out this instant beverage cooler and change your brew’s temperature from scalding to frigid. It works on tea, beer, and wine, too. “In less than a minute, my fresh-brewed hot tea was iced tea,” said one reviewer. “And despite the rapid cooling, the container didn't dilute my tea or change the flavor in any way.”


Use solar power to create an outdoor atmosphere

Set this solar glass ball on an outdoor table or nestle it among your flowers. It looks pretty during the day. But when the sun goes down, it lights up and throws colorful stained-glass-like lights around your space. A solar panel on the top captures the sun all day to power the interior lights all night.


Put down a rug to style outdoor spaces

Decorate your outdoor rooms the way you do your indoor ones with this reversible outdoor rug. The weatherproof polypropylene fabric is nearly indestructible and easy to wash. You can sweep the dirt off of it, hose it off, and let it air dry. It comes with a carrying case so you can bring it with you when you go camping or RVing.


Hang a clothesline anywhere

Hang your clothes to air dry almost anywhere with this retractable clothesline that mounts to a wall. Just pull out the line from one side, attach it to the other, and hang your clothes. Unhook the line and it retracts back into the base so your clothesline is out of the way till you need it again. Hang it outdoors or in a shower stall.


Hang a windchime that’s tuned to create a calm ambiance

These wind chimes are the calming and musical sound you are hoping for when you hang wind chimes. Tuned to E-major, they play the five core notes of the pentatonic scale when the wind blows. There are two sizes — the small one plays in Soprano and the large one is in alto.


Bring a hammock with you for impromptu naps

This portable camping hammock is so small, you can stash it in your everyday pack and grab a nap whenever you find yourself with time and a couple of handy trees. It weighs only 22.5 ounces and fits into a tiny stuff sack, mkaing it easy to carry. According to reviewers, it’s super comfortable to sleep in. When you are in it, that attached stuff sack turns into a handy phone pocket.


Use a sand anchor so your umbrella stays put

Don’t be that person chasing a beach umbrella down the sand as it attacks sunbathers, picnics, and children. Store this sand anchor in your garage, so you always have the gear to make sure your umbrella stays put. Screw it into the sand, put your umbrella pole into it, and rest easy knowing you won’t be the one wreaking havoc today.


Turn fly catching into sport

Charge up this fly-zapping racket, put on your best tennis outfit, and rid your home or outdoor gathering of flying pests while having fun. The net is charged with a 4,000-volt grid so the insects will drop like flies — literally. It even has a built-in light so you can chase away the invading winged hordes after dark.


Light your stairs for safer outdoor spaces

Finally, here is an easy no-wire solution for lighting your outdoor stairs. Tuck these solar stair lights into the corners, attach them to the risers with the included adhesive, or just set them down. They soak up the sun for power and light your stairs when the sun goes down. “I love how they light up my deck steps,” said one reviewer. “I’m ordering more for all my steps. LOVE LOVE LOVE THEM!!!”


Use incense to keep bugs away

These mosquito-repellent incense sticks are an easy way to bring bug protection anywhere. Just light them and let the smoke from the plant-based repellent oils such as rosemary, peppermint, citronella, lemongrass, and cedarwood discourage mosquitos from joining your outing. Each stick protects a 12-foot area for hours.


Mark your herbs & vegetables to avoid confusion later

These plastic plant labels will save you so much confusion later in the summer — and make it possible to send the uninformed into the garden for herbs. Just use the included white marker to jot the name of your plant on the roomy display area and stick the spike into the soil nearby. This is a pack of 100 markers, so you’ll have plenty without needing to restock anytime soon.


Change a light fixture to boost style & save money

An often-overlooked yet affordable way to update a home is to replace dated or straight-up ugly light fixtures with something modern and fun. This bulkhead light fixture gives your outdoor space a “we are on a cruise” vibe that’s also low-key and elegant. Made with a black cast aluminum frame and a frosted glass finish, it also uses low-energy LEDs to help you save you money on your power bill and illuminate for years to come.


Put a parking target in the garage for easy parking

If you worry that you will smash into the garage wall when you park, peel and stick this parking aid to the floor so you can park by feel. Your tire will hit it before you hit anything valuable, giving you a little haptic feedback before you do any damage. It even comes with stickers for assigning parking spaces and making the target more visible.


Stash this step stool in cupboards & shelves

Tuck this handy folding step stool into a cabinet or on the bottom shelf of a high bookshelf so you have a quick and easy way to reach those too-high places. The top handle makes it easy to grab and folds automatically so you can carry it or store it flat. It has non-skid feet and a non-skid surface so it’s safe for children — but it holds up to 300 pounds so it’s handy for adults, too. Choose from seven colors.


Hang your tools on magnetic strips

Mount this four-pack of magnetic tool holder strips to the wall of your workspace so that putting away and locating your tools is simple and easy. Just stick the metal part to the magnet. You can see your tools arrayed in front of you so there is no more digging in a toolbox.


Use traction tape to make stairs safer

If you have a slip hazard in your yard, cellar, or on a flight of stairs, this anti-slip traction tape will help prevent falls. The glow-in-the-dark strip makes the stair edge more visible in the dark and the grippy surface provides traction. Just stick it where you need it.


Toss this pool floaty into the pool

Relax in the pool with this confetti pool floaty that’s filled with fun glitter. It’s heavy-duty enough for an adult to lounge, cool down, and enjoy the pool in a state of blissful relaxation — but it’s also fun for kids. “This pool float is so much with the sparkly confetti glitter inside,” said one reviewer. “It’s a great size for everyone, kid-adult.”