Plan The Perfect Backyard Remodel In Southern California

A major reason why people love living in Los Angeles and Southern California is the terrific climate, which allows us to spend so much time outdoors. In addition to time spent on active outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and enjoying the beach, people also want to be able to relax outside in their own backyards.

It’s no surprise that creating an inviting backyard space is a priority for Los Angeles homeowners. Sometimes, this requires an entire backyard makeover or just minor backyard renovations. Either way, this can be a substantial project which requires some research and planning. So, let’s discuss the major components that could go into a backyard remodel.

Here at GreatBuildz, we speak with clients every day who are looking for quality backyard contractors for outdoor construction project in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura & San Diego.


GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners with reliable, pre-screened landscape and pool contractors, then provides ongoing project support to ensure a stress-free experience.  Give us a call at 818.317.3567 or visit our website at to learn more and discuss your project.

backyard pergola with local flowers

What do I need to know for my backyard remodel project?

  • Begin your backyard remodel by identifying major components like water features, seating areas, landscaping, additional features, and privacy measures. Tailor your plan around your top priorities.
  • Pools are a significant draw for backyard makeovers, offering relief from the warm climate. Consider lap pools or spas for smaller spaces or budget constraints. Building a pool involves substantial costs and hiring a reputable pool contractor.
  • Design inviting spaces for outdoor lounging. Options include patios made of concrete or alternative materials, decks made of wood or composite materials, and shaded areas with covers or pergolas.
  • Customize your yard with lush greenery, grassy lawns, or drought-resistant elements like synthetic grass and rocks. Collaborate with a landscape contractor to choose suitable flora and discuss irrigation options.
  • Budget for additional features that enhance outdoor living, such as built-in BBQ islands, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, heaters, and lighting. These amenities make your backyard an appealing space for entertaining and relaxation.
  • Ensure a secluded space by upgrading walls and fences, or adding mature trees for natural screening. Discuss options with your landscape contractor to strike a balance between privacy and aesthetics.
  • Seek recommendations from friends, neighbors, or co-workers for reliable pool and landscape contractors. Alternatively, use reputable services that screen and provide introductions to quality contractors. Avoid relying solely on online reviews and ratings.

Depending on how much you’re willing to spend or what you’re hoping to achieve, a backyard remodel can range from simple and quick to complex and lengthy. If you’re thinking about a full backyard makeover, you might consider hiring a landscape architect who has the experience to give you some great ideas and a vision of what is possible.

If you want to keep costs down, you can always decide for yourself what you’d like to do and contact a few licensed landscape contractors to get bids and ideas. Utilizing strategic elements such as plants, gravel, and mulch can help lower the budget for a backyard makeover. It is also important to consider irrigation and site preparation costs, which can add up to $3,000.

What Goes Into Backyard Remodeling?

Backyard Remodeling Fun

When you’re planning a backyard remodel, you’ll want to make a brief list of the most important things you want in your remodeled backyard, starting with the major components. For example, if you’re planning a pool, that’s got to be your top priority and you’ll plan everything else around that. In general, you’ll want to consider the following categories in your backyard redesign.

  • Water element: Pool, spa pond, or other water feature.
  • Seating: patio, deck, pergola, or other patio covers.
  • Landscaping: lawn, trees, shrubs, ground cover, and other plants.
  • Features: outdoor BBQ/kitchen, firepit, fireplace, pizza oven, heaters, tv, etc.
  • Privacy: fencing, walls, gates, etc.

Pools & Spas

Backyard Remodeling Pool

For many people, building a pool will be a big reason to do a backyard remodel.  In a warm climate like Los Angeles and Southern California, a pool can be utilized more than half the year and provides wonderful relief from the summer heat.  It’s also a terrific amenity to have for kids as well as extended family and guests.

Building a pool, however, is a major undertaking that includes a large cost, a lengthy construction period, and hiring a quality pool contractor. If your backyard has slopes or hillsides, this will further complicate the ability and requirements to build a pool. 

Some homeowners don’t want to make the space in their yards or spend the money on a large pool.  Other options are a ‘lap pool’ or a spa. A lap pool requires less room and will cost less to build. A spa can double as a ‘kids’ pool when it’s hot outside and a relaxing hot tub for adults in cooler times. A spa will cost substantially less than a pool, especially if you purchase an aboveground ‘portable’ spa. Keep in mind you’ll still need a contractor to hook up the spa to water, electricity, or gas. 

Seating Areas & Patios

Backyard Remodeling Seating

Another important part of a backyard remodel is the entertaining space, where you can create sitting and lounging areas. You’ll want to consider including space or spaces in your outdoor living space for outdoor tables, pool loungers, outdoor couches, umbrellas, and other outdoor furniture. This area can just be a simple patio made of concrete or alternative material such as pavers or limestone.

Another option is a backyard deck that is usually constructed out of pressure-treated wood or a composite material that withstands aging such as ‘Trex’. Although none of these options come at a cheap cost (not even a concrete patio), make sure you create a large enough area that allows you to place your desired outdoor furniture and walk around it. Talk to a reputable landscape contractor about the costs and options available for a patio or deck.

In the hot Los Angeles sun, it’s a good idea to consider a cover for any patio or seating area. This could be as simple as a patio umbrella or a nice shade tree. Alternatively, your backyard remodel could include a patio cover or pergola structure to shade you from the sun and elements. Additionally, adding a side yard seating area with a pergola can be a beautiful and functional addition to your backyard. It’s a good idea to research your options, such as a canvas, flexible awning, or a partial covering like a trellis or a wood or aluminum patio cover structure.

Landscaping & Decor

Backyard Remodeling Landscape

Maybe the most obvious element of any backyard remodel is the yard itself. Landscaping can mean different things to different people.

Some homeowners want to create a lush, relaxing environment by using lots of trees, shrubs, plants, and other natural elements. Others want to have a large grassy lawn for sports and activities. Alternatively, some people want a drought-resistant backyard with synthetic grass, rocks, and low-water plants like cacti.

There are really so many options; it’s a good idea to discuss your vision with a quality landscape contractor. They will be able to advise you on which trees, shrubs, plants, grass, etc., are appropriate for your backyard design. Try xeriscaping to reduce water usage and save money on your water bill. This budget-friendly backyard landscaping idea is easy to do, requires minimum maintenance, and adds major appeal and value to your property. Keep in mind that most landscaping needs water (sprinklers or drip irrigation) and that most household water expenditure is from landscaping, not indoor water usage.

Read: Here are the Best Plants for Your California Backyard

Backyard Features

Backyard Remodeling Features

Once you have an idea for the basics you want as part of your backyard remodel, you should also be budgeting for the features and ‘frills’ that make spending time outside appealing. The feature that tops the list for most backyard renovations is the built-in BBQ and outdoor kitchen.

A built-in BBQ island should include not only the BBQ but enough countertop area for preparation and, ideally, a bar where people can eat or just chat with the chef. An outdoor kitchen can also have features like a sink, a mini-fridge, a microwave, and storage. Some outdoor kitchens might even include a pizza oven or a grill. Talk to your outdoor contractor about the best materials to use when building an outdoor kitchen.

Other popular features for your backyard remodel are creating a cozy and welcoming area, especially for entertaining, including a fire pit, heaters, or outdoor fireplace in your main seating area. These features can be enhanced with the addition of mulch, which instantly transforms the yard and leaves it looking crisp and clean. Removing the patio allowed for the addition of multiple seating areas and a new fire pit, and the landscaping added color to a space that once lacked any outdoor hues. And don’t forget about adding lighting or even a wall-mounted television in your backyard makeover so you and your guests have all the comforts of the indoors.


Backyard Remodeling Privacy

As most people live in communities with neighbors all around us, we want to create a private space where we can enjoy our backyard space with family and friends in private. Most backyards are separated by some kind of wall or fence, such as a privacy fence. If these are getting old, falling apart, or leaning to one side, it’s a good idea to include replacing them in your backyard remodel.

Some people like block walls for their strength, while others prefer the look of a fence, which is cheaper to install. Fences can be made of weather-resistant wood, vinyl, or wrought iron.

In addition to walls or fences for privacy, mature trees can create a much taller screen between neighboring backyards. But make sure to discuss options with your landscape contractor to make sure you are getting a tree species that will provide the right amount of privacy without growing too huge, where it becomes cumbersome to trim.

native orange flowers to California

Local Flora and Fauna

Embracing the local flora and fauna in your backyard remodel not only enhances the natural beauty of the space but also contributes to the ecological balance of the region. Understanding and incorporating native plants both ensures a harmonious aesthetic and supports local ecosystems.

Choosing plants indigenous to Los Angeles and Southern California promotes sustainability, as these species are adapted to the climate, reducing the need for excessive watering and maintenance. Native plants also attract local fauna, such as birds and butterflies, fostering biodiversity in your backyard design.

Incorporating local flora in the landscaping blends seamlessly with the natural surroundings while creating a low-maintenance garden that thrives in the specific soil and weather conditions of the area. Moreover, understanding the habits of local fauna can guide the placement of features like bird feeders, bird baths, or even small ponds, transforming your backyard into a haven for wildlife. With the right knowledge of landscape design, you can also incorporate elements like a line of cacti, which not only adds to the aesthetic but also helps conserve water in Southern California’s dry climate.

Consulting with a local landscape expert can provide insights into the specific plants and elements that attract and support indigenous fauna, contributing to a backyard that reflects the beauty of the region and plays a role in preserving its ecological balance.

backyard pool in the sunset

How Do I Find Good Pool & Landscape Contractors Near Me?

A good way to find a reliable pool and landscape contractor for your backyard remodel is to ask friends, neighbors, or co-workers to recommend someone they’ve used. You can also usually find a list of contractors recommended on social media sites like Facebook and Nextdoor. Beware: if you ask for recommendations on these sites, you should only trust suggestions from your ‘real-life’ friends. Other contacts on these sites can be biased (they’ll recommend their cousin, who is a contractor, etc).

If you can’t get any reliable suggestions from people you know personally, you should look to services that do the most intensive contractor screening and offer personalized introductions to quality contractors (like GreatBuildz).

The worst option is just going online and rifling through a long list of backyard remodel companies on the big review sites. There are so many contractors, and most of them seem to have a 4 or 5-star rating on these sites; therefore, you can’t tell the good contractors from the bad ones just based on reviews and photos.

Related: How to Find a List of General Contractors Near Me and GreatBuildz Contractor Vetting & Conduct of Conduct

GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners with reliable, thoroughly screened landscape and pool contractors in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura & San Diego and provides project support from start to finish.


Call now (818.317.3567) to chat with a real person about your next renovation project or visit our website for more information:


Hi, we're Paul and Jon - Co-Founders of GreatBuildz. We believe everyone deserves to find a great contractor, have a stress-free renovation, and enjoy their beautiful new space. There are so many contractors out there and it's often hard to tell the good from the bad... until it's too late. We started our company to help simplify your contractor search and help you have a stress-free renovation experience. We're always available to help, no matter where you are in the process. Click here to learn more about our story.

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