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When Heather and I started our house hunt last year we were determined to find a place that had an incredible backyard with a lawn for Annie (and Rigby), and enough room for Heather and me to entertain. As you all know by now, we eventually found a place in our price range that was perfect for us except for one thing… it had a somewhat underwhelming backyard with no lawn.

Thankfully, upon moving in it became clear Annie and Rigby weren’t missing a lawn as they loved playing in their new backyard, and Heather and I would still be able to entertain once we dressed it up a bit. That made us feel better, but six months later – because Heather and I are totally awesome procrastinators – our backyard still looked the same as it did the day we moved in.

But then last week we finally decided we’d had enough and set out to make some minor backyard improvements that were budget and environment friendly.

Here are a few “before” photos:

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As you can see, we had a couple things going for us – a pair of nice lounge chairs Heather’s aunt gave us and some attractive foliage. At night, however, the yard got DARK, and Heather refused to set foot outside in case Jason, Freddy, or Michael Myers were lurking about.

So, with that in mind, the first thing we did was look to brighten things up out there. It wasn’t long before we stumbled across solar powered stake lights. These lights are great because they A) cost two dollars each, and B) are environmentally friendly as they illuminate at night thanks to having spent the day soaking up sunlight.

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We stuck these suckers into the ground along the perimeter of the backyard and things immediately got a lot brighter out there (sorry, Mr. Krueger). We also bought three sets of solar powered string lights ($25 each), and hung them from our roof – not just for additional light, but to create a cool ambiance as well.

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I get extra points for not falling off the ladder and killing myself!

Next we hung a bunch of glass votives (one buck each!) from our trees using 22 gauge artistic wire and some fishing line, then placed battery-powered tea lights inside that were leftover from our Christmas decorating.

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These look great during the day even before they are turned on at night!

Lastly, we hung paper lanterns (five bucks for three) from the eaves of our roof to make things look even cooler.

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Our entire backyard upgrade cost us less than a hundred dollars, took only an hour to set-up, and required no wiring or electricity. Check it out at night:

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Either the previous owners left a satellite dish, or Heather has a secret TV she isn’t telling me about.

While we still hope to jazz up our backyard further with a table and chair set, we are enjoying our budget upgrade. Last night I even got Heather to share a cup of tea with me outside and not once did she voice concern that she would end up like Drew Barrymore in “Scream!”

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