Most people are on a budget these days. If you can’t afford to hire a professional landscaper, you can design a good backyard design for yourself by following these steps:

1. Envision It
When you want to design a good backyard design, it starts with dreaming big. Think about what kind of life you imagine having in your new space. Are you dreaming of big backyard barbecues with family and friends? Or are you looking for a quiet space to do a little gardening?

2. Brainstorm
Write down every “crazy” idea you have. Pull out all the stops. Nothing is too far-fetched. You can do this solo or with the entire family. Let everyone have a say and toss out their ideas for what they would like to see happen in the family backyard.

3. Get Real
Once you have dreamed a bit and written down your wildest backyard design ideas, it’s time to edit them. Ask yourself questions like “Do I really enjoy gardening? Or do I want a low maintenance space?” Reduce it down to a short list of the most salient features you would like to see.

4. Inventory It
Walk around the area and make a list of assets you can keep, like a terrific tree, and things that must go, like a rotting shed. While you are there, go ahead and make some rough sketches of the backyard and take some measurements.

5. Draw It
Find a program you like or just invest in some good old fashioned grid paper and start making a detailed map of the yard. Make sure this include accurate measurements. Then start adding details of the backyard design you would like to see.

6. Price It
Once you have a design, figure out what it is likely to cost. If the price seems out of reach, plan to shop sales or install it incrementally over time.

7. Schedule It
Whether you hire help or plan to do it yourself, it won’t happen if you don’t set a date. At some point, you just have to bite the bullet and get started. Otherwise it remains just a fantasy.

8. Work It
When the scheduled date comes, get in there and start pulling out that rotted shed and go shopping for supplies. Get your hands dirty.

9. Rework It
There is a military saying: “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” The same goes for backyards. Expect the unexpected and adjust your plans as needed when you dig up some old pipe while trying to lay sod.

10. Enjoy It
Even if you are completing it in stages, take time to enjoy that new table or those new flowers. All work and no play defeats the purpose of having a backyard oasis.

That is what the backyard is for. Unlike the front yard, it’s a private space just for you and yours.