Backyard Transformation at My Parents’ House: What We Love & Learned

I am over the moon to share my parents’ backyard transformation! I’ll admit, there were so many times I never thought this day would come. Turns out, landscapers are in high demand. Finding a crew who is talented, hardworking, will actually do your scope of work and finish on time (relatively) feels almost impossible. It feels so good to check this off our list and now my parents have a backyard they can enjoy and Momma Cung can tend to her plant babies she loves so much.

I’m going to share a breakown of the project from the initial rendering, who we used to help us and how much it cost. The final touch was getting the perfect backyard furniture to complete the space.

Yardzen mockup of backyard transformation

The Design

We worked with Yardzen to design my parents’ backyard transformation. You can see from the rendering above and the actual images, a few things have changed. Mainly though, it’s all about furniture layout and as we find the right pieces, the space will fill out nicely and resemble the haven my parents dreamed of even more. We loved working with Yardzen as they really helped my Mom visualize exactly how the space was going to look. This blog post dives into why we went the online route, what you can expect and how much it costs for the design.

The Landscaper

Yardzen can connect you with a local landscaper they recommend or you can find someone on your own. I have friends and readers who have done both and are happy! For our backyard transformation, they recommended Blooms Lands Care. My initial contact was with Dale and he is excellent to work with. If you reach out, tell him I sent you!

What’s great about Yardzen is they give you everything you need to give to the landscaper to get your project started. Dale and I spoke on the phone about the budget, changes and overall plan. Of course, there are some things that needed to change to make the final design work for us and with our Texas yard. Instead of pre-made pavers, Dale recommended we go the custom route to get the size we wanted. This would make things easier for my parents.

After a phone call, Dale came out to put his eyes on the yard, take measurements and chat with me in more detail about the project. In this meeting, we discussed exactly where the pavers would end. We opted for basalt rock between the pavers and raised planter boxes instead of pea gravel.

The Budget

Outdoor landscaping done right is not cheap. I have seen my fair share of outdoor projects where people will skimp on things here and there such as materials or skilled labor. It doesn’t end well and generally, you’ll end up paying more in the long run because you’ll have to fix the problem. My parents are getting older and as our lives get busier, I didn’t want to have to worry about fixing anything in the future. After checking out Dale’s glowing reviews online and having him thoroughly break down the costs, I felt comfortable investing in his team.

In total, transforming my parents’ backyard cost about $36,000 give or take. As someone who isn’t familiar with outdoor projects and design, this definitely left me breathless. Remember, prices fluctuate depending on where you live! You also have to budget more than the estimate for things to go wrong, extra materials or extra time. I think it’s important to manage expectations, costs and over-communicate to avoid any surprises at the end.

The single most expensive part was the custom concrete pavers. It cost about $9,000 for this portion. It’s extremely labor intensive and requires a lot of grading, making the molds, pouring the concrete and then setting it.

Following the concrete, grading and removing debris came in as the next most-expensive line item. I think sometimes we can underestimate how much it costs to properly prep a space for projects and how time-consuming it is to demo and remove the trash. This cost about $5,000.

The turf was our next big investment coming in at $4,000. This price included the excavation of the site to grade, compaction of base material, installation of turf, and infill added.

Estimates vs. Final Cost

To be transparent, I had to negotiate the price at the end down because of a lack of communication. Dale is on tap to do our backyard project next year. I still wholeheartedly recommend him to do any type of landscaping or exterior projects! I think it’s important to ask if there is a charge for something versus being potentially blind-sided in the end. This actually goes for all contractors and was a great lesson to learn.

For example, we purchased raised planter boxes for my Mom. I was charged for the assembly and placement, which if I had known about this… Johnny and I could have done that over the weekend. I have no problem with his pricing for adding soil and getting the irrigation set up so my Mom wouldn’t have to water those boxes manually. Another line item I didn’t expect was to be charged for fixing a high slope made of basalt gravel. I have slipped going down this area of the backyard and when I asked for it to be fixed, they said they would take care of it. It showed up on the bill as an extra charge. Dale was gracious and worked with me on the remaining balance, which makes me feel very comfortable recommending him.

The Actual Project

In all, it took two months to complete the project. We would rip out all of the existing grass, add custom-poured concrete pavers and completely re-do the irrigation system. Since there wouldn’t be any more grass, there needed to be some major changes to the irrigation to water the new flower beds, plants and remaining tree.

The first step was grading and hauling off any trash, plants and grass we no longer needed. They mapped out where the pavers would go and prepped for that. I always remind myself it gets really messy before it gets good. The slight issue came with keeping my Mom’s existing plants alive for the two months it would take to do the project.

Pouring Concrete

This was the most time-consuming and trickiest part of the project, in my opinion. Doing anything outdoors means you’re depending on the weather. However, in the worst case, you can still plant flowers in the rain. You absolutely cannot pour concrete in the rain nor can they get wet before setting.

Once this was complete the project moved along pretty nicely. There are breaks between different contractors. For example, the crew who poured the concrete is different from the crew who installs the turf and the crew who does the planting.

There are quite a few options to choose from when it comes to what goes between the pavers. In the end, we went with basalt gravel because I like the contrast and we would be putting furniture on it. You can always do grass or turf or put the pavers closer together and not have a gap, too.

For sizing, each concrete piece is 4’x4′ and there are five per side, bringing the total to 10 custom poured pavers. There is an 8-inch gap between each paver and the entire length is 25 feet and 10 inches.


After the concrete came the turf. There are different kinds of turf out there, so I went with Dale’s recommendation on this. We are thrilled with it and its impact on the backyard transformation! It’s soft to the touch, a nice green that will look good year-round and not too out-of-place during winter. I will say though, the rabbits that frequent our neighborhood do still attempt to eat this turf and my Mom finds little small “blades” of grass here and there when they discover it’s not real.

Planter Boxes

I searched high and low for the perfect planter boxers for my Mom. Since she’s nearing 70, I didn’t want her to have to constantly bend over to plant things or tend to her existing ones. I found these online and they are almost perfect! I wish they were a little deeper, but this still gives room for plants to thrive. They do require assembly, but it’s easy to do. Plus, Dale and his team hooked these up with irrigation so when the sprinkler system runs, these plants get watered!

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