Backyard DIY Series Part 1: An Introduction

Blogger Ashley Brooke shares her backyard DIY makeover! | 

Our New Favorite Place

First off, let me just preface this backyard DIY post with 1. This project was NOT done in a weekend! and 2. I did little to no work. I picked out flowers and pots… and that’s it. Ryan did this whole thing by himself with the exception of two days when he had a friend help him move rocks. So when I say this was truly a labor of love, it was.

For the last 2-ish months, Ryan has spent every spare second he had in the backyard shoveling gravel, moving pavers, re-sodding, building planters, wiring and moving electrical outlets, power washing, planting, and all around being manly. I should also mention this was all his vision. So, as much as I want to take credit for this gloriousness, I cannot. 


Disclaimer on the Before & After photos..

I debated for a LONG time whether or not to show you the before photos because they are BAD. Like, embarrassing, truly terrible, like-who-even-are-these-people bad. We had seriously let the backyard go. Between a busy travel schedule and being overloaded at work, we quite literally couldn’t keep up with it. But one afternoon, Ryan had enough of me calling our backyard “The Land Before Time” and decided to bring it back to life! And that is just what he did. 




"Before" blogger Ashley Brooke's backyard DIY makeover! |

^^^ Notice the random garbage can?? Not sure where that’s from.


Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband makes over their backyard in Orlando. |

^^^ This was an old gravel bed filled with large river rocks. Last year, we had hauled those out but never quite finished the job!


Blogger Ashley Brooke's patio before her backyard makeover. |

^^^ Note the hammock stand with no actual hammock. And, it’s sitting in a dead flower bed. I really shouldn’t be showing you all of this! It was soon taken over by weeds.




Blogger Ashley Brooke redesigned her backyard as a DIY! |


Blogger Ashley Brooke's new DIY planter filled with summer flowers. |


A new patio nook in Ashley Brooke's DIY backyard redesign! |


I honestly cannot believe what he pulled off. It’s so incredibly beautiful, peaceful, and comfortable. We practically live out here now. It’s hands down my favorite place in our home. I’m so thankful for Ryan’s serious handiwork and the 100’s of hours he put into this project because our house really feels like a home now.


Blogger Ashley Brooke's new DIY planter! |


Backyard DIY Series

So, since Ryan DIYed the heck out of this and he’s always an absolute perfectionist, we have the step-by-step instructions ready for you to make this happen in your home! And don’t worry, he’s going to walk you through some really fun and easy projects that will change your backyard in a snap. Even though our backyard as a whole took months, he finished each project a weekend at a time. 

So have no fear, this is totally doable! Plus he/we already made the mistakes… so we’ll let you know how not to make the same ones. Again, did I mention he’s a perfectionist?! You are in good hands!


Blogger Ashley Brooke and Ryan redesigned their backyard as a DIY! |


We're in love with Ashley Brooke's new DIY patio! |


Next Week’s DIY: How to Hang Canopy Lights

Next week, I’m going to let him take over on Wednesday and show you how to DIY your own backyard canopy lights the right way! I’m serious, these things aren’t going ANYWHERE. Plus this is one of the first projects he finished, and it made suuuuch an impact! You’ll be doing dinner alfresco in no time! 


Wine alfresco under DIY canopy lights is the BEST! |


Ashley Brooke and Ryan's beautiful new planter in their DIY backyard! |



Outdoor Furniture Joss & Main c/o // Garden Stools Joss & Main c/o // Picnic Table (Craig’s List, similar here) // UmbrellaPillows, & Pillows Pottery Barn // Anthropologie Earrings // H&M Skirt (Similar) // Draper James Top

Keep Reading Our Backyard DIY Series:

Part 1 – An Introduction (before & after pics included!)

Part 2 – How to hang String Lights

Part 3 – Backyard Entertaining (three best Summer cocktails!) 

Part 4 – How to Build a Cedar Wood Planter 

Part 5 – How We Installed the Pavers & Gravel

Photographed by Gregory Daniel



  1. June 7, 2017 / 2:24 pm

    The backyard looks beautiful!! I love that you showed the before pictures – I think it makes the after pictures look even better! 😉 Ryan did an amazing job (and you two are just so adorable!!!)

    • Ashley Brooke
      June 12, 2017 / 9:29 am

      Aw, thank you so much Shannon! I can’t say I miss “The Land Before Time” one bit, but I love how proud Ryan was while working on his project. The results are my favorite. xx, AB

  2. June 8, 2017 / 11:44 pm

    The after pictures are phenomenal! I also love the before pictures because it shows how much planning, preparation, and time you two put into it. It’s a stunning backyard! I wouldn’t blame you if you spent every evening out there enjoying it.

    • Ashley Brooke
      June 12, 2017 / 9:28 am

      HA! Thank you so much, Elizabeth! Those before photos show how real things got back there, and they also make the NEW backyard feel even more magical. We love it! xx, AB

  3. Meredith
    June 9, 2017 / 4:28 pm

    Ashley and Ryan, this is so beautiful!! Great job, Mr. Landscaper!!

    • Ashley Brooke
      June 12, 2017 / 9:26 am

      Thank you so much, Meredith! We love it! xx, AB

  4. Katherine Speirs
    June 13, 2017 / 2:17 pm

    I LOVE this! I can’t wait to see the rest of the posts in the series! If Ryan could share how he built that flower box that would be amazing! I can definitely understand why this is your new favourite spot! Gorgeous!

  5. July 1, 2017 / 9:17 am

    I am glad that you showed the before pictures. It gives me so much hope for my backyard because your space now looks AMAZING! I just got inspired!

  6. March 11, 2018 / 1:04 pm

    I can see I’m very late to the party here, but I just discovered you!! I too live in Florida, and we just redid our backyard!! I love love love how yours turned!! What a beautiful job!! I also love your planters and pots with the look of stone and terra-cotta, where did you find them all if you don’t mind me asking? I’m on the hunt for something similar!

    Stephanie 🙂

    • Ashley Brooke
      March 11, 2018 / 7:49 pm

      Hi friend!! Thank you for stopping by, so glad you are here! Also, thank you for your sweet comment… Ryan worked really hard on our back yard!
      Also, we found almost ALL of our pots at Old-Time Pottery! SUCH great prices!!

  7. Carmen
    October 28, 2018 / 8:47 pm

    Hey Ashley what’s the name of the patio set. Trying to find it on joss and main… thanks a bunch carmen

  8. Jenelle Ellenberger
    June 17, 2019 / 11:09 am

    Wow! So beautiful and inspiring! It makes me hopeful that we can turn our “Land Before Time” into an inviting space too!

    • June 17, 2019 / 11:37 am

      Hahah! Thanks Janelle! You can do it!!!

  9. Devon
    August 24, 2019 / 8:46 am

    I loved the paver patio. I will try to do this too. Thanks for sharing.

    • September 3, 2019 / 1:02 pm

      Thanks Devon! Looking forward to hearing how it goes! xx – AB

  10. Amanda
    May 1, 2020 / 11:07 am

    LOVE this space and using it as inspiration for our backyard redo. We have a downspout that drains right where I’d want to do the paved patio, any concern over drainage with the gravel and pavers?

    • May 1, 2020 / 11:21 am

      Hi Amanda,
      Thank you for the comment and I can’t wait to hear how your new space turns out! First question, is it possible to relocate the downspouts (probably have to hire out for that)? Another possibility is to dig a tunnel and connect a flexible pipe to your gutter and direct that water runoff to another spot. Then you could build your patio over it and not have to worry about it.

      The pavers and gravel don’t move at all with heaving rain here in Florida. But with a downspout and a heavy flow of eater shooting right at the gravel, I’d be worried about some movement. Depending on your exact patio layout you could possibly deflect that water or make sure it hits the paver (which won’t move) and not hit directly into the loose gravel.

      Hope this helps! Keep me posted if I can answer any other questions.

  11. Gail Hoke
    May 25, 2020 / 10:51 am

    That’s quite a transformation. Beautiful!

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