A backyard remodel is a dream come true for many homeowners. To understand why, stop for a moment and imagine your backyard with blooming plants, lighted walkways and outdoor living space. Remodeling your backyard is more than just a few new plants or spruced-up deck, however. It is a  project that turns your backyard into an oasis that maximizes your enjoyment and perhaps more importantly, your use of your outdoor space.

Step 1: Find your inspiration

The first step to begin your remodel is to think about how you plan to use your backyard. Do you want a play area for your kids? A patio or deck to relax with friends? Maybe a serenity spot or meditation space? Maybe your answer is all of the above, and it's all possible even if your space doesn't seem that large.

If you're not exactly sure about what you want, you can find inspiration online. Check out these ideas from HGTV.com and HouseLogic.com. If one of your goals is to save water and lower your water bill, take a look at this photo gallery of water-smart landscape designs.

Step 2: Determine your budget

The cost of your backyard remodel will depend on the area you're designing, how complicated your project is, and the price of materials and labor in your local area. You can find estimates online at websites like HomeAdvisor, FixR and HomeGuide.com. Keep in mind that most of the project costs on these sites are national averages that might vary significant from your job cost.

Know how much you have to spend. This will help you reign in ideas and get the best answers from a professional

Step 3: Plan it out

Identifying and prioritizing the elements that you want in your remodeled backyard is next. The elements come in two categories: landscape and hardscape. Landscape refers to plants, such as grass, flowers, shrubs, and trees, while hardscape refers to materials, such as brick, stone, slate, and concrete. Most major remodels include both.

To figure out what might fit where, you can experiment with online design services like Yardzen, Landstylist and iScape.

Step 4: Hire professionals

Hiring a landscape architector a design-build contractor is no different from hiring any other home improvement pro. You should meet with several candidates, ask them about their experience, look at projects they've completed in the real world and not just online, and get bids for your project.

What about resale value?

While you're planning your backyard remodel, you might want to consider how it will affect your home's value when you sell. Remodeling magazine's Cost vs Value report offers some insights. The top outdoor project in the report in terms of return on cost was a wood deck addition, which recouped 75.6% of the national average cost of $13,333. A composite deck addition recouped 69.1% of the national average cost of $19,150. A mid-range backyard patio project recouped 55.2% of the national average cost of $56,906.

National Average Cost Vs Value Report (2019) – Backyard Projects

ProjectJob CostResale Value% Recouped
Backyard Patio (Mid-range)$56,906$31,43055.2%
Backyard Patio (Composite)$19,150$13,23269.1%
Backyard Patio (Wood)$13,333$10,08375.6%
Source: Remodeling.com

Whether your budget is $15,000, $50,000 or $100,000, you'll also need to explore ways to finance your backyard remodel. A home equity loan or home equity line of credit, also called a HELOC, could be a good option because you'll be investing the funds to improve your property and you might save on your income tax*.

With a little imagination, your backyard remodel could be truly transformational.

*You should consult a tax advisor regarding the deductibility of interest and charges to your Figure Home Equity Line.