Your backyard is an extension of your living space, an oasis where you can unwind, entertain, and create memories. Best of all, you can tailor it to fit your lifestyle. Browse these backyard design ideas to create your very own little slice of heaven outdoors.
Entertaining in Your Backyard
The backyard has become a very desirable entertaining space. Outdoor kitchens, bars, and dining areas are great for gathering and entertaining. Capitalize on your outdoor space by choosing comfortable chairs with durable cushions so your guests will enjoy dining and socializing.
Use this Go-To Guide on Outdoor Furniture Brands to find the best patio furniture for you and your guests. Once you find the perfect furniture, be sure to make it last by using furniture covers during the wet or cold months. Then simply uncover your furniture as soon as the weather warms up.
Many homeowners are also adding additional entertainment features like TVs or outdoor sound systems. And don’t forget that the right outdoor lighting can add impact and extend your entertaining hours after the sun goes down.
Even if you have a small backyard, you can still entertain. Consider installing a Murphy Bar, which simply folds down to a table when you need it. Use the shelves for storage, and enjoy your small outdoor dining room anytime. Visit this DIY tutorial to build your own Murphy Bar.
Small Backyard Design Ideas
When it comes to your backyard, bigger isn’t always better. Small yards or patios can be just as nice as large ones—and often require less maintenance. Here are some small backyard design ideas on creating the perfect sanctuary, even when your space is small.
Choose Storage Options
Save space by using furniture or accessories that have room for storage, like a bench with a hinged lid that also stores toys, gardening tools, etc.
Use existing fences, walls, or posts to hang planters, storage containers, or artistic focal points. You can also add more vertical space with wood trellises.
Put Your Fence to Work
Your fence can be more than just a divider. Paint wooden fences to add a splash of color, and hang containers for herbs or other garden plants to free up lawn space.
Keep furniture small scale, and your backyard will feel bigger.
Tiered planters can maximize ground space. You can also create levels in your patio or backyard to help define spaces and make it feel like there are multiple outdoor rooms.
Garden in Containers
If you struggle with little actual space for planting, plant vegetables, flowers, and even trees in containers. Plus, you can easily move plants around your yard to create different spaces.
Give the Illusion of More Space
A faux-grass rug will give the illusion of a lush green lawn, making your patio space look bigger. Strategically placed outdoor mirrors can also add depth and give the illusion that your backyard is larger than it is.
Small Patio Design Ideas
What can you do with a small outdoor patio? Even a small patio can be converted into an outdoor living space with the right set up. Add some comfy seats, a colorful outdoor rug, and don’t forget outdoor lighting for the perfect final touch. Use a privacy screen to block a bad view or neighbors who are a little too close for comfort.
Don’t Count Out Apartments/Townhomes
Just because you live in an apartment or townhouse doesn’t mean you can’t have your own outdoor getaway. Potted plants and a slim hammock can transform a balcony into a fresh air retreat. Add a rug and some throw pillows or floor cushions for extra seating, and now there’s room for friends!
Large Backyard Design Ideas
More space often means more maintenance, but it also means more options. You can choose to do any one of these large backyard design ideas, or if your yard is big enough, you might be able to do them all!
Pergolas work great in large backyards, either close to the house or freestanding to create a shaded area farther out in the yard.
Putting in a path can add shape to any backyard, and also provides guests with some direction. You can use large flagstones to create sweeping walkways that will wow just about anyone.
Water is always a fun element to have in any yard. Add water features like a bird bath or a decorative fountain. The size of your water feature depends on the size of your yard.
Everyone loves a good fire pit! Create a dedicated area for a fire pit or fire table and you and your guests can roast s’mores all night long.
Sweeping lawns give children and dogs plenty of room to run and play, and you can experiment with larger trees and shrubs to line the outer perimeter.
Add Some Kid-Friendly Fun
No matter the size, backyards should be a kid’s best friend. Entice kids to spend time outdoors with play structures like treehouses, swing sets, or a seesaw. Add some nearby seating and both children and adults can enjoy hours of fun.
Backyard Ideas for Your Canine Companion
You don’t have to choose between a yard that looks good and a happy dog. With some thoughtful planning and a few minor changes, it’s possible to have both!
Dog’s need space to exercise and spend time off their leashes. A fence will give your dog room to stretch their legs, and give you added peace of mind that they will be safe as they run and play. For a lower cost, you can also choose an invisible electric fence.
To avoid brown spots in your lawn from man’s best friend, consider switching your grass out for a dog-friendly ground cover like clover, synthetic turf, or a more durable grass blend (Kentucky Bluegrass and Buffalo Grass withstand urine better than others). Mulch is also a safe, inexpensive option.
NOTE: Choose your lawn care products with care. Some fertilizers and weed blockers can be toxic to animals. Consider using organic methods or a pet-safe lawn care service.
Other Backyard Improvements
The above tips are all a great start for improving your backyard and making it a place where you want to spend your time. For specific challenges, look through the list of questions below for even more ideas and answers.
How can I make my yard look good?
Whether your backyard is large or small, or needs a full makeover or just a little freshening up, here are some simple tips to improve your outdoor space.
One of the easiest ways to spruce up your backyard is to add a little color. It’s as easy as new cushions or pillows for your outdoor furniture, switching out your patio umbrella, hanging some outdoor art, or adding a fresh coat of paint on a fence or other structure.
Use an Outdoor Rug
A rug immediately makes an outdoor area feel more cohesive and welcoming. It not only pulls your seating area together, but also helps keep dirt outside and helps to protect your deck or patio.
Relax with Water Features
Fountains and other ornamental water features are not only striking focal points for a garden or backyard, their musical sounds delight the senses and promote relaxation.
Combine Shade and Style with a Pergola
Pergolas are outdoor structures with vertical posts that usually support a crossbeam or lattice roof. They provide structure and shade, while maintaining an open and airy feel. With a variety of materials and designs, pergolas are a stylish way to add to an inviting outdoor gathering space.
Upgrade Your Hardscape
The term hardscape refers to the manmade features used in landscape design. It provides needed definition and a sense of organization to your outdoor space. Some simple upgrades to your hardscape could include laying stone or gravel paths, placing an arbor or trellis, or adding some extra brick or tile to extend your patio.
Plant Bright Flowers
Adding colorful flowers to your backyard, whether in planting beds or flower pots, is like icing on the cake of your outdoor haven. Not only are they a feast for the eyes, but they can make your outdoor space smell wonderful too. Perennials will keep delighting year after year, while annuals allow you to experiment with variety and color.
Lounge in the Shade
If you need some shade, then waiting for a tree to grow can take a long time. A patio umbrella gives a short-term, quick solution for instant, mobile shade, which makes any outdoor space more inviting during the day. Use this Outdoor Patio Umbrella Guide to find the best one for your backyard.
How can I decorate my patio with flowers?
Flowers and interesting greenery add a bit of color and diversity to any patio or deck. Pots or containers are an inexpensive and versatile way to add flowers, and make your patio almost instantly more appealing.
TIP: Rather than a single pot, arrange pots in groups of three at varying heights to create a bigger visual impact.
How do I build privacy in my backyard?
When most people think of backyard privacy, they think of fences. But don’t forget about living fences of hedges or trees, which can keep your backyard sanctuary private—and give you something more interesting to look at when you’re outside.
How far does a fire pit have to be away from a house?
Whether you are installing a permanent fire pit or using a portable one, it’s important to put safety first. Fire pits should be a minimum of 10 feet from your house and neighbors’ yards.
Where should I put my fire pit?
Fire pits or fire tables are becoming more and more popular for homeowners. They provide a nice focal point for gatherings, and can be used year-round. Make sure that your fire pit is far enough away from your house (minimum of 10 feet), and double check that there are no overhanging branches, fences, or other structures that could easily catch on fire.
Don’t forget underneath your fire feature. Brick, stone, gravel, concrete, or other fire-resistant materials are safe surfaces; never place a fire pit on a wooden deck. Also consider the fuel and material inside your fire pit. Fire glass is an attractive and safe material for use with a natural gas fire feature.
How can I make my backyard beautiful on a low budget?
You don’t have to sink a lot of money into your backyard to make it a place where you love to spend time. With some creativity and a little elbow grease, no one will know you had a low budget.
For outdoor furniture, repurpose existing furniture or garage sale finds. A fresh coat of paint makes metal chairs look like new, and cushions and throw pillows can spice up less expensive plastic furniture.
To make your plant investment go further, opt for perennials. Reuse paint from other projects to add splashes of color by repainting planters or furniture.
With some knowledge and creativity, your backyard will soon become your own outside oasis.