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Cheapest Ways To Cover Dirt In Backyard: The Ultimate Guide

by Lianne Jones June 09, 2022

Cheapest Ways To Cover Dirt In Backyard

Backyards are meant to be a safe haven for a household. They provide a secure and private outdoor space filled with whatever you like - whether it’s multiple flower beds, a vegetable garden, or a swing set for the kids. 

Problem is, your backyard is currently filled with a big chunk of dirt. Dirt and weeds and random rocks aren't exactly what people expect their dream backyard to look like, so it’s time to do something about it. 

Or, while your backyard might be a haven for flowers and wildlife in summer, the same can’t be said for the other months of the year. So, what do you do when you want to hide the dirty patches? 

Fortunately for you, there are several ways to affordably cover dirt in your backyard, and you won’t even need to hire a professional to do it.

Here is the ultimate guide of the cheapest ways to cover dirt in the backyard!

Fill Area With Grass

Possibly the simplest of ideas to cover dirt in a backyard is to fill the area with grass. Grass might be a key component in many backyards, but it’s still highly underrated.

Nothing is quite like a sea of healthy green, not to mention how easy it is to maintain. You’ll just need to run the lawn mower over it every couple of weeks, depending on how fast it grows. 

Problem is, filling a patch of dirt with grass isn’t the easiest or fastest task.

You’ll need to be tactical about when you intend to grow the grass seeds, which is either in spring or autumn, to avoid soaring and freezing temperatures. 

Firstly, you’ll have to prepare the land with compost. Compost provides organic matter to the soil.

Thus, improving the structure of the soil and increasing its nutrients, which in turn will improve the quality of the grass. 

You can either buy compost at a local store or make your own with a mixture of food wastage, weeds, grass clippings, dead leaves, shredded paper, and manure.

However, it can take about 2-6 months for this to turn into compost, so plan ahead. 

You’ll also want to choose the right type of grass to lay on the dirt area, because some grass types are invasive and hard to maintain. 

Spread the compost on the dirt evenly and water it thoroughly. Rake the compost, so it’s all level and then scatter your grass seeds.

Then, water the area daily until you see little grass sprouts appear, and ensure the soil remains damp (not wet) for about one to two weeks. 

Alongside the grass, you can also sprinkle some wildflower seeds if you want to add splashes of color amongst the green.

Just make sure the wildflower species aren’t too invasive, because some can be hard to maintain. 

Fill Area With Ground Cover

Grass is nice, but sometimes it’s a bit too boring in a backyard. If you’re a fan of flowers and plants, then consider covering the dirt area with ground cover. 

Ground cover, as the name suggests, consists of low creeping plants that cover an area of the ground, which immediately creates a type of flower bed.

Not only does it look good (there’s no such thing about too many flowers), but ground cover helps to separate parts of a backyard. 

The first thing to do is pick your ground cover. The two main types of ground cover include shade-loving plants, such as bowles periwinkle vine and bugleweed, and sun-loving plants, such as creeping thyme and creeping phlox.

Just make sure the ground cover species isn’t invasive or too high-maintenance, otherwise you’ll spend a lot of time trimming it back. 

You can buy established ground cover plants at low prices in your nearest plant store, or if you have a particularly green thumb, you can take some cuttings from friends or neighbors for free. 

Make A Brick Yard

Don’t have a lot of patio space in your backyard? Time to make your own! 

Making your own brick or patio yard can be surprisingly more creative than you’d think.

Sure, you can simply fill the area with bricks and bits of terracotta plant pots, but you can also lay the pieces out in a decorative pattern. This isn’t often found in most gardens, so get imaginative. 

The best part is that making a brick yard is a very cheap and eco-friendly way to cover dirt.

You can raid a landfill and grab a bunch of scrap materials, including bricks, bits of concrete, old plant pots, and more. Plus, you’ll know that you’re not adding unnecessary chemicals into the earth. 

When putting bricks on the dirt, there’s a particular way to do it to prevent uneven ground. First, take away at least 3 inches of soil.

Replace 1-2 inches of this empty space with sand and then arrange the bricks and materials, ensuring that it’s all level and even. 

Lastly, fill the empty spaces with concrete, crushed gravel, or sand. You might want to fill these spaces with weed fabric to prevent and control the amount of weeds that will poke through. 

Cover Dirt With Mulch

Cover Dirt With Mulch

While the previous recommendations are ideal for covering dirt, they’re fairly permanent solutions.

If you’re undecided about how to permanently cover dirt in your backyard, but you want it covered regardless, then we recommend covering it with mulch. 

Mulch is highly underrated. Not only is it very affordable, but it also helps to control the amount of weeds in your backyard, prevents the soil underneath from eroding, and helps to maintain moisture in those dry summer days. 

Plus, you can do virtually anything with mulch. It becomes a versatile cover that can be used for plant pots, planting small trees and shrubs, playground games (like a swing set or slide) for the kids, a dining table, a grill, and even for parking a car!

Bark chips are the most popular form of mulch, and it’s incredibly easy to apply to the dirt. All you have to do is literally sprinkle the mulch over the dirt area, and that’s it!

Plus, bark chips give an aura of nature in your backyard, which is a nice change to the brownish dirt underneath. 

An alternative to bark chips is slate chippings. Slate chippings are applied to dirt in the same way as bark chips, by simply scattering it over the soil evenly.

It can go directly on top of soil and dirt, but you might find that slate chippings aren’t as effective as bark chips when it comes to preventing weeds. 

Whether you choose to use bark chips or slate chippings as mulch, we recommend building a border around the chosen area.

Not only does this make the area look neat and tidy, but it also prevents nearby invasive plants and flowers from growing into the mulch.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Make My Yard Look Good Cheap? 

Here’s a secret - you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to make your yard look good! Turns out, you can buy most of the materials you need at low prices, and you can even complete the tasks by yourself. 

Here are some ideas to give you inspiration:

  • Cover areas with mulch (bark chips and slate chippings are very stylish)
  • Create ground cover to separate parts of the yard
  • Build a meadow with wildflowers
  • Plant shrubs and fruit trees
  • Landscape with water features and rock gardens
  • Raise your flower beds for some dimension
  • Plant flowers in a rainbow color
  • Make a decorative, mosaic-style brick yard
  • Repurpose old plant pots

What Is The Best Low Maintenance Ground Cover?

Some ground covers are known for being incredibly high-maintenance and invasive, which is a pain to control. Here are the top low-maintenance ground cover options.

  • Creeping thyme
  • Mondo grass
  • Periwinkle
  • Creeping juniper
  • Lady’s Mantle
  • Heather
  • Bergenia
  • American wintergreen
  • Japanese spurge
  • Dragon’s blood
  • Ajuga reptans


So, there you have it! Turns out, you don’t have to live with that pesky patch of dirt in your backyard for too long. You also don’t have to break the bank to cover it. 

Depending on your personal preference, you can permanently cover the area with grass, ground cover, or pieces of brick and concrete.

If you’re undecided, then you can temporarily cover the area with mulch like bark chippings or slate chippings. 

Whatever method you choose, it’s both easy and cheap to cover dirt in a backyard. Happy DIYing!

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