Landscaping Ideas For Small Backyards

Planting And Caring For Your Backyard Landscape

Small Landscape Design Ideas (15 Secrets)

Island beds in this backyard oasis include vegetable gardens and perennials that attract insect pollinators, which contributes to a more abundant harvest. Photo: Proven Winners.

Soil. If your backyard consists of turf lawn, the soil will be compacted and devoid of nutrients. Test your soil for pH, consistency and existing nutrients to determine the health of your soil and whats needed to improve it. Amend new planting areas to improve drainage and provide a hospitable growing medium for plants.

Plant selection. Choose plants that are appropriate for the light and soil conditions. Plant trees and shrubs for privacy and shade, and add perennials, groundcovers, and annuals for color. Select varieties that bloom at different times and have colored foliage, bark, or berries for multi-seasonal interest. Include native plants that support wildlife and beneficial insects.

Mainenance. Consider how much time youre willing and able to devote to maintaining your backyard landscape. Certain hardscape materials, furnishings, and plants are easier to maintain than others. If you have an elaborate landscape, you may want to hire outside help for mowing, weeding, or other garden chores.

Go For A Wild Garden Aesthetic

Small yard landscaping doesn’t have to mean paving or decking. In fact, planting up a wild garden could just be what your soul and yard craves.

Here, Genna Margolis, owner of SHAPESIDE , has created a bold look with tropical garden ideas, including exotic evergreens, that provide low-effort drama and colorful interest all year round. Tree ferns of various sizes and glossy, informal mounds of pittosporum combine to form a stunning green tapestry.

Unsurprisingly, gardens can start to look ragged by the end of summer as many perennials begin to fade. An easy way to inject life into your flower bed ideas is to go tropical. Buying garden-ready plants will give your yard an exotic vibe for the rest of summer. Its an easy way to boost color and give your outdoor space another peak of interest that will last until the first frosts.

For an exotic look, dont feel restricted in your plant choice simply look for plants that have the characteristics of the tropics. In a border, aim for a mix of heights, with tall, towering plants like bamboo and bananas providing a protective canopy for lower-growing plants such as ferns and hostas. Dense planting will help create the feeling of a jungle, and flowers such as cannas, dahlias and crocosmia will give your border vibrancy.

Create The Backyard Space Of Your Dreams

With these small backyard ideas you can transform your outdoor landscape into a relaxing space youll want to spend your time. Not to mention these can make for some great DIY projects. If you need help transforming your outdoor living space, our experts at Install It Direct are here to help you with all your landscaping needs, no matter the size of your backyard.

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With And Against Axes

Rectangular yards automatically imply an axis down their middle. Designing along this axis emphasizes the rectangularity of the yard not necessarily a bad thing, but not particularly novel. If you go this route, employ symmetry, and put a worthy focal point at the axiss end: a tree, a water feature, a patio with a standout element.

For a more unique and less boxy design, play with diagonal lines. Diagonals break from the default center axis, establishing new, angled edges that make the rectangular shape of a yard melt away. Spaces with diagonal edges tend to feel a little bigger too, especially if they enjoy long sight lines.

Give diagonal edges to your paths, planting areas, or patios, but dont introduce too many different angles. Its best to keep your diagonal lines parallel or perpendicular to each other.

When To Call Landscaping Professionals

42 Brilliant Small Backyard Design Ideas On A Budget

If you dont have a green thumb and would much rather hire someone to execute those backyard landscaping ideas you have in mind, there are plenty of local landscapers dedicated to enhancing your propertys value and appeal.

A crew will come out to survey your space, and then develop a custom hardscape and landscape design plan, including plant selection, outdoor lighting, fire and water features, irrigation solutions, and even routine lawn care.

A welcoming outdoor paradise isnt dependent on size. Its all about using the space you have to its full potential.

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Small Backyard Design Ideas

The web has a lot to say about small yard designfrom free planning tools and photos to endless pages of tips and ideas. It’s no wonder that searching for small yard ideas can be helpful and overwhelming at the same time. Here’s a collection of some of the most useful information we’ve found across the web. You can also check out this gallery of small yard pictures.

Backyard Ideas For Spaces Large And Small

Is your backyard in need of a renovation? We have plenty of backyard landscaping ideas from design ideas for small backyards and backyards that slope to family-friendly designs and backyards designed for entertaining.

Make your backyard a place that reflects your style, whether you prefer a contemporary-style space with succulents and abundant hardscapes or a cottage-style look with pathways or water features framed by masses of colorful perennials. If you like to host outdoor parties, consider adding a fire pit or fireplace for guests to gather around.

This backyard is one both adults and children can enjoy, with areas for play and relaxation incorporated into the design. See the following photos for more backyard design ideas and inspiration.

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Grow A Flowering Wall

Vertical gardening is a great way to beautify a small space by growing plants on an existing wall or fence or by adding a trellis, says Rebecca Sears, Chief Gardening Guru for Ferry-Morse. Attach planters or grow bags to your wall or fence and add herbs like mint, sage and thyme, foliage plants like sweet potato vines or pansies, violas and other flowers.

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Use Visual Tricks In Small Backyard Landscaping

Small Landscape Design Ideas (10 Secrets)

‘We mention visual tricks above, and you can see how successful they can be in the landscaping of the small backyard above, with inventive patio ideas,’ says Lucy Searle, Homes & Gardens‘ Editor in Chief.

‘Just as they are used indoors to make small rooms feel bigger, tiles laid diagonally create a visual trick, drawing the eye to the corners of a space, as well as along its length and width, making it feel larger. Here, this trick is used in landscaping beautifully, while greenery is maximized, too.’

And, as you can see, there is room for pool ideas in small backyard landscaping, if you push the pool to the boundaries of the space.

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Attract Birds To Your Backyard

Looking for a foolproof way to turn a sliver of outdoor space into an enchanting garden? Josh Sevick, president of The Grounds Guys, recommends employing plants and décor that will attract migratory birds to your yard. “Perennial plantings, combined with bird feeders and water baths, can attract hummingbirds, red birds, and blue birds to a small backyard,” he says.

Is It Cheaper To Landscape Yourself

The cheapest way to landscape a backyard is to do it yourself, particularly if you already have the tools and skills needed for the job. If you are capable of DIY landscaping, you dont have to pay to hire a professional landscaping service to do the work for you.

In some cases, DIY may not be the cheapest way to go. If a task requires tools you dont have, youll have to buy them. And if youre learning a new skill, it will take more time or money due to mistakes or the learning curve.

If youre a DIY novice, the costs of tools, transportation, or a lack of skill can cost more than hiring a pro.

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How Can I Design A Small Backyard On A Budget

Designing a small backyard on a budget is easiest when you use readily available resources like fences, windows, and existing surroundings. Redesigns get pricier when you start to add and build new elements.

If you want to upgrade your backyard space without breaking the bank, consider some DIY small backyard ideas, like building wall shelves or allowing your backyard-facing window to double as a bar.

Plant Around A Fireplace

The Top 63 Small Backyard Ideas

Even if you don’t have much room, you can fit an outdoor fireplace into your backyard and grow flowers. The key is using large pots that you can move around on the hearth and replant when the seasons change. No hearth? Surround the fireplace with pots placed on another level surface or the ground. Shown here: Sundiascia diascia , white and blue lobelias, Princettia , Senetti pericallis and Surfinia petunias in Deep Red, Summer Double White and Purple Majesty. This homeowner’s whimsical sign adds a finishing touch.

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Mix Ground Cover Materials


If you inherit a small backyard that is filled corner to corner with the same ground cover material, its time to mix it up. By visually breaking up the texture of the ground cover landscaping materials, like a mix of pavers, rock, turf and decking, the yard will feel much more custom and interesting.

Small Back Yard Landscaping Ideas From Our Design Team

Short stories are notoriously difficult to write. Writers must squeeze the full weight of a novel into scant few pages. Small yards present a similar challenge. When space is limited, designs must distill down to the most essential features to achieve a clients goals.

We love to design small yardsin many ways, they are like a puzzle, and, perhaps counterintuitively, they offer tons of room for creativity. Below, well dig into some overarching strategies and brass tacks tips for getting the most from your small yard.

Design for Seattle condo maximizes new deck space for planters, outdoor dining, and seating area

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Dream Deck With Pergola

A sprawling two-level cedar deck and brick patio anchored by an outdoor fireplace and pergola provide ample space for al fresco dining and relaxing with friends or family. To soften all the hardscape, Chris Lambton and crew pushed back the wooded area to make room for a raised bed filled with perennials for year-round appeal and blooming annuals for color.

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Create A Homesteading Oasis

Inspiring No Grass Backyard Landscaping Ideas Goodbye Grass

The owners of this tin roof chicken coop wanted to create a home for their chickens and guest houses for visiting bluebirds. The homeowners said landscaping was a key factor in placing this chicken coop on the far side of the garden. The height of the coop creates a separation between the yard and the street that runs behind the next-door neighbors’ yard. The building works as both a privacy screen and has the added advantage of looking like a charming shed or rustic playhouse.

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Choose Planting To Suit A Small Backyard

When looking for small garden ideas for borders and containers, always plant according to the space available. Obviously that means choosing the best trees for small gardens, but it is relevant to your choice of shrubs and flowers, too.

‘When planting out a border, particularly at the center of a yard, perhaps dividing a deck from a lawn, I always take careful note of the full-grown height of what I’m putting in and, if I will be seated, perhaps at a dining table or lounger, I take that into account, too,’ says Lucy Searle.

‘Sometimes, I want planting to be tall for privacy, but often, I want to ensure I can see beyond it into the rest of the garden. It’s worth noting that lower planting at the center of the yard will help the space feel less divided, wider and longer.’

Backyard Landscaping Ideas & Inspiration

The home of Morty Bachar and Patty Storms was built around a backyard pond thats a haven for wildlife. A screened porch, stone patio, and sitting areas were designed to look out onto the pond. Photo: Morty Bachar and Patty Storms. See more of this Delaware garden.

Alli Guileria built a series of garden rooms in her backyard, each with a different function. The first room she created was this inviting living area by the house, with plenty of seating for guests and a canopy that protects from sun and rain. Photo: Alli Guileria. See more of this beautiful garden.

This sloping backyard was transformed into a lush haven, with multiple privacy solutions including fencing, layered plantings, and an arbor. A waterfall provides the sound of moving water that drowns out urban noise, while a fire pit keeps the homeowners cozy on cooler nights. Designer: Lori Scott. Photo: Janet Loughrey.

Eco-friendly features in this small urban backyard include a low maintenance perennial border, hardscape with permeable pavers and gravel, and a stylish garden shed with a green roof. Designer: Marina Wynton. Photo: Janet Loughrey.

A narrow backyard was transformed into an inviting living area with an outdoor kitchen, dining area, and bar-style seating for casual entertaining. Designer: Debbie Brooks. Photo: Janet Loughrey.

A large fireplace provides a gathering spot on this stone patio. Furniture was selected for comfort and beauty. Photo: Proven Winners.

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Do Not Overcomplicate A Small Backyard

Even the smallest backyard or terrace can make an enticing outdoor space with a little care and attention.

‘Keep it simple dont get too carried away when planning for a small backyard or patio,’ says Dan Bowyer, Fisher Tomlin & Bowyer .

‘A carefully chosen palette of materials and plants is often the most satisfying. However, this doesnt mean you cant be experimental, just be mindful that trying to squeeze everything into a compact space will make it cluttered and decrease usability.’

Instead, opt for a maximum of one or two points of interest.

Here, a statue at the bottom of this space leads the eye down the garden path. Or, rather than trying to cram in more outdoor furniture than the space can comfortably contain, keep seating simple with one of the best Adirondack chairs.

Create A Multipurpose Garden And Dining Space

How to Make The Most Out of Your Small Yard (Landscaping Ideas)

Maybe you dont have room for a separate garden and dining space in your backyard. Fortunately, these types of outdoor areas are easy to combine together and do so cohesively.

Whether you only have a patio to work with or a small grassy area, you can create a terrace dining space with a garden feel using vines, pots, and even hanging plants for more room off the ground.

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Tips On How To Make The Most Of Your Small Yard

  • Edging is everything: Even in small yards, the secret to making your space look perfect is by having clearly defined boundaries between major garden elements. You can achieve this polished look with edging materials such as steel, stone, and wood.
  • Mix it up: Great landscaping creates variety without chaos. Make sure you have a diverse palette of plants to work with. Youll want multiples of some plants to provide the background, while other specimen plants should stand alone as highlights.
  • Plan ahead: Dont just immediately break ground with a bunch of small yard landscaping ideas. Thats a recipe for disaster. Since youre working with a small space, its important to plan as much as possible. Start with a base map diagram of your property. Sketch out some of your favorite ideas to scale, so you know exactly what youll need to buy to finish the job.

Create A Social Space In One Corner/area Of The Yard

When you’re dealing with small backyards, it’s often best to create the dining/hang out area in a corner to make your backyard seem as large as possible. Also, be sure to choose appropriately sized furniture for your space. Instead of large clunky patio chairs, consider long family-style benches or smaller stools. Shade sails can be used instead of big umbrellas or gazebos to provide an escape from the sun on hot days.

Follow these landscaping ideas for small backyards to make the most out of your small yard space!

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Rock Garden With Decorative Stone

mbolina / Getty Images

The options are pretty much limitless when creating a rock garden out of colorful decorative stone. The size and scope of your design are up to you, which makes this project great for a small yard.

As long as your design isnt overly ambitious, you can rock this project solo if you want.