Dressing Up a Blank Backyard

This pergola offers a nice focal point for Tom and Lauren’s patio.

Build pergola


After each post is set, we lay pavers around it. Some require cutting, but the cuts are simple, so we can make them with a regular circular saw — outfitted with a masonry blade.

Soon the first half of the patio is complete, all of the posts are set and we’re ready for more sand and pavers on the other side.

While that work continues, Danny can get started cutting out the rest of the pergola.

Once Danny finishes cutting the beams, we mark the post tops so we can cut them all off at the same level before we begin hanging the beams.

While we finish nailing together the pergola, our handyman Bear installs the retaining border around the outer edge of the pavers.

It’s late in the day, but we decide to push through and complete the patio by adding the sand topping.

The patio now includes area rugs, chairs, plants and a TV to extend the home’s available living space.

Dress out patio area


Overnight, Tom and Lauren stain a new swing they want to hang on the patio, so early the next morning we’re ready for the finishing touches.

While Aaron and Bear prep the planting beds, Tom and Lauren are in the garage staining a new picnic table to help furnish the patio.

Meanwhile, Chelsea and I begin hanging that swing by beefing up the beam it will hang from, before we install the hardware.

Once we add the soil amendments Sid recommended, we’re ready for planting.

While Chelsea sites the plants according to the plan, I’m busy hanging the TV and hooking up some decorative lights.

This is going to be an awesome backyard!

“Today’s Homeowner” hosts Danny Lipford and Chelsea Lipford Wolf visit with Lauren and Tom Ascher.

Post-Production Thoughts


There wasn’t anything bad to say about Tom and Lauren’s backyard; there just wasn’t anything to say at all. It was just a patch of grass surrounded by fence — no character, no interest, no amenities.

Now it has a completely different feel. The paver patio has not only become a focal point in the yard, it’s now an additional room to the house with space for relaxing and entertaining.

The simple pergola we built overhead helps cement the feel of a room and offers a little shade when the weather is hot; not to mention a handy place to hang a swing.

The new landscaping that surrounds all of this softens the hard edges of the wood and concrete while it gives the area a feeling of permanence and history.

So, this brand-new house feels like it’s been here for more than a few months.



Pavers and Materials
• 3 pallets of holland silver shell – $700
• 2 pallets of paver base – $450
• 50 bags of leveling sand- $223
• 5 bags of tan poly sand- $125
• 6 pcs edge restraint & spokes – $80

Total for patio – $1,435 (Not including delivery or offload)
• Lumber for pergola – $290
• Plants – $950
• Swing – $219
• Lights – $45

Special Thanks:
Sexton Lawn and Landscape

Special Guest: Sid Sexton/Owner, Sexton Lawn and Landscape

Other Tips from This Episode

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
How to Fix Your Lawn’s Bare Spots

Have a patchy lawn? Here’s how to use a slotted berry container to evenly distribute grass seed. Watch video.

Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
This Blower Has All the Power You Need

The Toro PowerJet F700 Electric Leaf Blower has the highest CFM rating of any corded blower. Watch video.

Watch and Learn:
How to Build a Pergola for Your Yard

A pergola, or shade arbor, is a great way to provide shade in your yard and allow air to circulate. Here’s how to build one.Watch video.


  1. I live in a home built in 1960. We have added a family room and I need a basement washroom finished and a patio. I am 82 and soon to be 83, desire to sell the home due to my aging. I can no longer do the work itself. I live in North Dakota so work on the patio will have to wait till spring or summer. I notice that a great percentage of your TV presentations take place in a warmer climate. We just came out of a 6 day continuous period of temperatures below zero. How do i enter your contest for assisting the updating of homes? THANKS and i do enjoy your weekly Homeowner programs. Thank you for the quality production.

  2. I’ve always wanted a pergola but my patio has curves. This is in a courtyard with no covering or shade to speak of. How can you do a pergola on something that doesn’t have straight ones?

  3. I wish you would do episodes on desert labdscsping, and rescuing an overg t own landscape. We just moved to Arizona into a house built in the 70s. In preparation for selling, the previous owners scalped the bushes so badly that I don’t think they can be salvaged, and we don’t known where to start.

    • Hi, Susan,

      Thanks for your suggestion! We are always looking for ways to better serve our fans and enhance the television show.
      I have forwarded your message to the “Today’s Homeowner” producer for consideration.

      Take care!

  4. Thank you for the many great tips I have used over the years. Dressing up the blank back yard was good.
    We will be adding a roof to shade the Texas sun.
    Thanks for the email
    Donna Mullins
    Midlothian, Texas

  5. Hi, love this idea and thank you what a great way to fix up a back yard for not a lot of money! I have a question if I may , I have a tile floor bathroom and some grout is coming out of some tiles how do I fix this? Also, my daughters roll In shower stall ( she is special needs) has a mold issue down near where the wall meets floor, any ideas how to fix that? Same bathroom by the way. Thank you!

  6. above ground pool area has stones and bare ground. Tried to use for garden but not a good idea. Would like rocks out and sod put in. Just straight mowing would be wonderful.

  7. I watched this episode over the weekend and have to admit , I laughed. You asked what clear marker paint was used for? Well in construction, especially commercial, the layout guys or the contractor will snap chalk lines so everyone has a point to measure from. And a way to keep the chalk lines from wearing away it to once they are down spray clear marker paint over them so they’ll last longer. Hope that helps.

  8. I love all the gifts you give at helping homeowners and showing us ideas of taking care and upgrading our homes. Love watching all the shows. God Bless you and team for what you do.

  9. I have a patio that’s not covered and a front porch that need to be made nicer. Don’t know what to do. Can you help?


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