A Backyard Makeover Fit for Kids

Joni Lay

Article Posted By: Joni Lay

of Lay Baby Lay

A Backyard Makeover Fit for Kids

We’ve been watching Joni Lay of Lay Baby Lay slowly, but surely turning her backyard into something truly special. Her backyard makeover began with adding a patio and pergola to her backyard. Then Joni turned an old, unused shed into a magical backyard playhouse for her two little girls. And now, for our Patio Style Challenge series, we’ve returned to Joni’s backyard to see her new upgrades.

Joni focused on landscaping with mulch to fill in some bare patches in the yard and to provide a soft place for her girls to enjoy their new playset. Joni placed potted plants and flowers around her pergola for some extra color, too. And she gives us a new peek inside that wondrous playhouse, too!

Backyard Makeover with Mulch Landscaping

The playhouse has been such a big hit with the girls, and the pergola has made for such a great entertaining space, but we were really lacking in landscape details.

Our yard is pretty shady (which is so nice during a hot Georgia summer!), but that also means that we have a hard time growing grass, and we aren’t ones to have overly fussy landscaping at this point in our lives.

Landscaping with Mulch

A backyard with a pergola, but with bare patches in the lawn

Above is a shot of the backyard last summer, after we finished up the playhouse.

As you can see, there are a lot of dirt patches, and we went with slightly more economical pine straw to fill in a few places, but we were in need of a more manicured solution. We decided to go with mulch— and lots of it!

A backyard with a pergola, playhouse and mulch landscaping

Here is the update above. The yard feels much more cohesive now, and I’m crazy about the new look!

A new backyard playset with rubber mulch

We also made the exciting new addition of this playset, which has already occupied countless hours of the girls’ time. I’m so excited about the long summer days we’ll be spending outside, now that we are a little better equipped to keep the girls busy (and also worn out at the end of the day!).

We used a mix-and-match strategy on the mulch. We really wanted to use rubber mulch, but it’s considerably more expensive than the regular wooden kind, so we went with the rubber mulch just under the playground for safety and black wood mulch elsewhere.

It works just fine together, and it ended up being so much less expensive than covering the whole area with the rubber mulch. I also can’t say enough good things about how helpful The Home Depot was; you can just drive up to the garden department and place an order for the mulch and pay for it, and they will load it up into your car! Easy peasy.

Husband Chip used a No-Dig landscape edging kit to create a clean shape, and then filled it in with the mulch.

Sandstone stepping stones and new mulch landscaping in front of a children's playhouse

We also added some stepping stones to the front of the playhouse, which Vivi and Brigette love to hop, skip, or hopscotch across.

Inside The Playhouse

A pretend kitchen inside a children's playhouse

Two little girls on a hanging swing inside their backyard playhouse

We didn’t make too many updates to the interior of the playhouse, other than doing some spring cleaning.

The girls really love the space, and I’m happy to report that it’s holding up super well and providing lots of entertainment!

The Pergola

A backyard pergola that's part of a backyard makeover

We were also thrilled to get some new outdoor cushions for the patio set. I love these so much! The old ones were brown, and I’m loving the new punch of color and the piping around the edges. They are also reversible, and the other side is a neutral cream color, so it’s extra fun to have two different looks in one cushion.

We don’t have a dining room anymore (we turned it into Brigette’s bedroom) so when we have friends over or entertain, this is the space we use. It has been so handy to have, and I love bringing a lot of inside pieces out to make it feel like an outdoor living room.

Potted Succulents and Flowers

Potted succulents on a patio end table

A little girl plays under a beautifully decorated pergola

I love these super easy-to-care-for succulents! Such a welcome burst of life on the furniture pieces.

A backyard playhouse with potted flowers and mulch landscaping

We wanted to add a few more landscaping details, and my original plan was to put more plants in the ground, but Chip pointed out that they would likely get stepped on with the girls running about, so we decided to put them into planters. I love the look, and the extra pops of color they add!

We chose some plants from Proven Winners and potted some buddleia (love it so much!) in those planters by the stepping stones and some verbena and hot pink geraniums that I couldn’t resist.

Verbena flowers


We are so excited about the updates and the extra punch it all adds to the backyard! Thank you so much to The Home Depot for partnering with us!

A Backyard Makeover Fit for Kids

A Backyard Makeover Fit for Kids

Joni Lay offers decor ideas and inspiration, along with posts about raising her babies on her blog Lay Baby Lay. It’s packed with style boards, photos and even some of her own prints for sale. Joni lives in the Atlanta area with her husband Chip and daughters Vivi and Brigette.

To give your backyard a makeover similar to Joni’s, you may need help from a professional. Contact Home Depot’s home services for more information.

For more backyard makeover ideas, see other Patio Style Challenge articles here on The Home Depot Blog and follow our Patio Style Challenge pinboard on Pinterest.

Browse our online Outdoor Living Department for everything you need for your patio, backyard or garden.