Backyard Designs: What you need to know

Assessing your available space

How would you begin to design your backyard with something fun and exciting?! Do you know what your available size or space looks like? Are you looking at a space geared more towards entertaining friends and family or are you looking more for your quiet, peaceful retreat to enjoy by yourself? Please read below and I will show you many of the options available to you!

Backyard space with ground cover and a cozy seating area.  A stone patio and native plants can also be a great idea for your backyard landscape

Size and layout consideration, sunlight and shade analysis

Before you can change and design your new, fun backyard space, you will need to figure out and measure what your available outdoor space looks like. You will need to take into account any hardscape materials in your space, what can stay or what needs to go. This is all the fun, design phase and you can bounce several ideas around to see what backyard landscaping ideas work best.

Hanging baskets and native plants can be beautiful, low maintenance options.

You should also consider the path of the sun and how that will affect and flower beds, raised beds, hanging baskets or any other focal point in your space. If you are putting in any structures, such as a pergola, make sure that it is placed in an area for the best shady nook area you may need.

Nice dining areas to be had under a gorgeous aluminum pergola.  Ambient lighting and ornamental grasses abound, in this beautiful space.

The correct placement of any plants or flowers will be dependent upon how the sun moves over your backyard space. It is imperative that flower beds are put into positions where they will receive the proper amount of sun.

Identifying your goals and preferences - entertainment, relaxation, gardening or family activities.

What are the goals for your new backyard design? Are you looking to enhance an entertainment space? Looking to build your own oasis of relaxation? Or are gardening and family activities a bit more of what you're after? I will dive into these items, below.

If a new place for entertaining is what you envision, maybe an outdoor living room, with some lighting and TV under an aluminum pergola, would be something you and guests would enjoy.

Gorgeous water features with comfortable seating are both great backyard ideas

Do you enjoy quiet, sunny days with pleasant breezes when thinking about your backyard experience? Maybe you would enjoy lots of flowers, plants, trees and nature. You could maybe have a small garden, mature trees and perhaps even a water feature to help you relax in your time outdoors.

Backyard focal point and water features, along with native plants offer a lush color palette.  lush greenery offers a nice contrast with the bright colors in the potted plants and hanging baskets.

Family activities are limitless when it comes to backyard design ideas. You can create natural stone patio to relax on, together. There could be spectacular built in seating areas in a very inviting space.

What are Key elements of your Backyard design?

Whether a large backyard or small backyards, it is imperative to choose a focal point. This would be the part of the backyard design where you would like to drive attention to or spend the majority of your time in. Some people perhaps use an outdoor kitchen, bird baths, hot tubs area, fire pit area or a multitude of others.

Landscape design

It is smart to know what local and native plants will thrive well in your outdoor space. You can do things such as soil tests and look at climate reports to get a good feel about what flowers and plants to put into your vegetable garden or raised beds. Doing this will allow you to spend less time on maintenance and more time enjoying your outdoor space.

Outdoor fireplace and kitchen patio are wonderful ideas for backyard design.

You can use native plants along with more desert garden types of plants called succulents. You also want to be sure to incorporate mulch and rocks into your design to retain water moisture in the soil.

Outdoor furniture

Choosing the right outdoor furniture for your outdoor space is an important detail to make sure you get correct. There are different styles and different materials available. There are plastic options, along with wood and wicker and many other types in between.

Remember, unless you are in a covered space, you probably want to consider a waterproof option to make sure you get maximum longevity out of you space and furniture.

Outdoor space win small backyard.  Low maintenance option.  Could even still put in your vegetable gardens you been thinking about!


Lighting is available in many different types and there are several backyard landscaping ideas that center around lighting. You will need to think of things lighting around decks, or under a pergola, around pathways. Will you be using floodlights or more natural lighting such as torches, fire pits or fire places.

A touch of lighting under your pergola can offer a beautiful backyard design.

Many people find that string lights offer a nice, welcoming ambiance and can be a nice decor piece. Fire pits and torches provide a unique and fun feel with a much more natural look and vibe.

For safety, you will also need to make sure to add both step and deck lights for any deck/step/walking area you may have. It can be a trip hazard for people as they move around your space.

Most popular Backyard Design Styles

There are a few popular back yard design ideas that I will discuss, below. The three will be Modern/Minimalist, cottage garden and Mediterranean Oasis.

Modern and Minimalist

Modern often times means more "straight, clean lines" with symmetry involved in the entire space. Shapes are more geometric and are placed in such ways in to make look contemporary.

A Minimalist version of a backyard looks like more like using drought resistant plants and you also want to use planters and decor with straight, clean lines. There are generally fewer trees and plants with this approach and not nearly as much "mixing" of tree/plant species.

Backyard landscape ideas in a small backyard.  How much space is needed for an entire backyard.

Cottage Garden

A cottage garden would be a bit different than a modern or minimalist look. A cottage garden it generally known for its charm, abundance of plants and a more relaxed, unstructured feel. They are made to look like they have just "appeared" over time and have not been touched by modern times. Oftentimes, there is a bright, beautiful color pallet, creating a lively and cheerful atmosphere.

Mature trees, fresh air and natural materials fill this backyard patio.

Mediterranean Oasis

A Mediterranean oasis is going to resemble those countries in that region (Spain, Greece, Italy etc). These places are know for their warmer climates, vibrant colors and distinctive architecture.

Seating areas will usually consist of wrought iron options or wooden, oftentimes adorned with very colorful cushions or other textiles. Very cozy and inviting for guests.

You will sometimes see an outdoor kitchen or grill area as this culture often places a large emphasis on outdoor living and entertaining.

Backyard space can truly be what you make it.  Outdoor room with many drought resistant plants.


There are dozens if not more design options for your backyard. Whether you like a more relaxed, charming backyard style to a more modern, open concept, the choices are unlimited and you will have some fun working the process!

So go out back, see what kind of useable space you have, and get to work!

Add a beautiful hardscape structure, a pergola, as a nice, warm focal point to your outdoor space.

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