We all know how important curb appeal is to your home’s appearance. But what about the backyard? It’s your personal oasis for entertaining and relaxation. So, in that respect, the beauty of your backyard is equally important. Your goal is to create a pleasing and well-balanced outdoor space through the use of plants and a variety of landscaping elements.
Developing landscape and garden plans can seem overwhelming to the novice—but it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you are looking for simple ideas like plant selection and edging or more advanced elements such as retaining walls and water features—whatever the scope of your project, check out these cool ideas for the ultimate inspiration!
When planning your backyard landscape, consider using a pergola to cover a seating or dining area. This one is constructed of solid redwood, which gives the garden overlook a greater sense of importance. Pergolas are designed to provide shade without blocking light completely. Enhance the pergola’s appearance by training climbing vines onto the structure for softness and additional shade.
Not all walking paths are made from stepping stones, mulch or pavers. This meandering trail takes you through the yard on a carpet of soft, green grass. The path looks beautiful with trees and plantings that create interest and color during all four seasons.
This flowerbed proves that pink doesn’t always mean girly. The planting bed features a combination of pink and white impatiens interspersed with green and maroon foliage. We think the floral border looks totally sophisticated and complements the back of the house perfectly.
When drawing up a landscape plan, consider a multiple-use design. These homeowners added a multi-level concrete and wood deck that connects the covered patio to the fireplace and seating area toward the back of the property.
If you are an avid gardener, your backyard should include a shed to house tools, potting supplies and miscellaneous equipment. This handy and attractive out building includes a potting bench, plenty of storage and a corner for the resident gardener to sit and relax.
This backyard is a wonderful example of graduated gardening. The homeowner used a variety of heights, textures and colors to create excitement and visual interest. The plantings border three sides of the paved patio and increase in height, giving the space a sense of coziness and privacy.
Give your family and friends a reason to use your backyard well into the cooler months. Adding a fireplace creates a focal point around which an intimate grouping of Adirondack chairs awaits an evening of toasted marshmallows and hot chocolate. During the summer, this secluded spot is perfect for roasting hotdogs and making s’mores for dessert. Yum!
Make the most of a backyard drainage problem by creating a water feature. The homeowners battled a low, soggy spot in the yard for several years before giving in and digging out the area and installing a circulating pond. Now the mushy ground is a bubbling water feature filled with aquatic plants and ringed with a natural stone border.
If you’re wondering where to locate the seating area of your backyard garden, keep an eye on it during the course of a day. Observe how the sun moves across the yard from morning until dusk and you will be able to pick the perfect spot, depending upon the amount of sun exposure you desire.
A sloped backyard may seem more like a deficit than a bonus when it comes to landscaping. These homeowners have conquered this shortcoming by creating a family-friendly space complete with a patio and zones for trees, shrubs and flowers around the yard.
First impressions count—even in your backyard. Make sure your garden greets your guests with pleasant colors and a special treat. Here, the welcome includes a delightfully landscaped pond and a stone footbridge leading from the patio to the back garden.
Looking for garden landscaping that doesn’t require much water? Here’s an eco-friendly, low maintenance alternative to water-guzzling plants. Consider gravel beds dotted with ornamental grasses and drought tolerant succulents to add splashes of green. They’re perfect for drought-prone regions under watering restrictions.
Creating movement and interest in your backyard could be as easy as incorporating pavers into the landscape. This garden went from so-so to wow by creating walkways and intimate patios throughout the yard. The homeowners now have several different entertaining areas to choose from when it’s time to host a party.
This garden is a foodie’s paradise. Raised beds of cooking herbs are surrounded by plantings of vegetables and flowers. The effect is an eye-catching landscape and results in a bounty of healthy produce all year.
Tulips are a colorful addition to your spring garden. They do require advanced preparation, though. Plant the bulbs in autumn before the first hard frost. They’ll sit dormant during the winter months then make their magical appearance once the snow has melted and the ground begins to warm.
If you have a small backyard, you can create a personal meditative space with a few simple elements. A weathered Japanese urn makes a tranquil fountain. Nestled in a bed of shade loving plants, this quiet corner has been transformed into a lovely zen garden.
In our minds, nothing looks more classic than stacked stone walls, landscaping boulders, tiered beds and a lighted pathway running through the yard. Dwarf plant varieties randomly placed in beds of bark chips allow the hardscape elements to be the star of this garden.
Color is the most obvious way of expressing your gardening personality. The palette can be bold and fun or understated and delicate. Color really brightens up this dark corner and gives the eye pause before it moves on to take in the other garden delights.
Water features add aesthetic appeal to the typical urban landscape. This stream looks quite natural and contrasts beautifully against the vivid green lawn. Any type of water feature, if done correctly, can add value to your home. You’ll love the serenity and the kids will love the chance to observe wildlife attracted by the water.
Enjoy the gentle back and forth motion of an outdoor swing in your backyard garden. They’re downright relaxing and provide a wonderful place to daydream and spend quality alone time. One thing that would make it better? Two words. Wind. Chimes.
Create a space that everyone will enjoy. Now that you’ve constructed a patio and flower garden, it’s time to think about the kids in relation to your landscape. Make the most of a large backyard by building a play area from a kit. This cedar swing set and playhouse was placed on a raised bed filled with rubber mulch to cushion the little ones if they fall.
A walkway in the backyard is a great way to draw guests into the space and enjoy the fruits of your gardening labors. When placing stepping-stones along a path, it is important to think about the distance between each step. In this yard, the stones are spaced to accommodate a slow stroll through the garden.
Choose your plants carefully. You not only need to consider which ones will look best, you also need to think about how they will perform in your yard’s soil and sunlight levels. Another thing you may have overlooked are the aromas of certain plants, especially if they are located near open windows or outdoor living areas. If you’re uncertain, ask an expert at your local garden center before purchasing.
Stick with native plants in your garden and the birds and butterflies will be sure to follow. Install a waterfall amid the plantings to create a wonderland for the local fauna. This tropical scene is absolutely perfect for the local critters in a Miami area backyard.
If you hate mowing (and who doesn’t?), dig up that dying turf and turn your yard into a interconnected series of paths and flower beds. In this spot the lawn was removed and replaced with a brick pad and stone border that gracefully divides beds of delicate flowers. The rustic garden fence, gate and weathered statue make a charming focal point.
Become one with your garden landscape by including a couple of comfy chairs and side table. This tranquil spot was created with nothing more than two upholstered outdoor chairs, matching ottomans and a little table for drinks. What a nice place to spend the afternoon!
Repetition gives your garden a sense of cohesiveness and balance. As you see, it can be easily achieved through color and texture. The terraced retaining walls contain a variety of shrubs and plants—the color green being the constant. The block wall repeats all the way up the steep slope reinforcing texture, form and line.
Consider adding a pond and small spillway as a calming feature in your garden. Use a variety of plants to enhance the naturalistic setting. Not only does it look lovely, moving water is said to lower blood pressure and increase endorphins. So, what are you waiting for?
An incredible border of brightly colored zinnias and lobelia follows the curve of the perfectly manicured boxwood hedge. The interior is filled to the brim with red crocosmia, daffodils and purple hyacinth. This flower garden is worthy of first prize in the neighborhood garden club competition.
This formal garden is located behind a historic English estate. The classical design relies heavily on topiaries of all shapes and sizes. It takes a team of gardeners pruning every day to keep this landscape looking its absolute best. Globe, conical and flat top are just some of the most popular topiary forms featured in this traditional garden.
Raised beds can be constructed from lumber, concrete blocks, stone, or in this case, stucco. They are ideal for gardeners who want to create nutrient-rich beds for plants and flowers. When you amend the soil, all the nutrients go to those plants, rather than nearby grass or tree roots. Creating a raised bed will save your knees and back—no more bending and stooping to tend your plants.
Create the illusion of space in your long, narrow backyard by installing a reflective body of water in your garden. A reflecting pond doesn’t take up much space and adds so much to your landscape. This circulating pond and waterfall boasts an assortment of natural stones and abundant plant life to make it look like it’s been there forever. The black pond liner creates a dark water surface that reflects the sky above.
Before you start planning walls, patios and flowerbeds, get to know your backyard. Observe the topography—what is the drainage like? Study the microclimates—where are the areas of sun, shade and moisture? Determine its use—how will the space be used? This will ensure a successful garden you can enjoy for years to come.
If your garden contains small shrubbery, why not train some of it into bonsai shapes? It is relatively easy to create a magical space to maintain and view this traditional Asian art form. While these highly manicured shrubs are considered more topiary than bonsai, the effect is similar and equally enchanting.
For the golfer in the family, create a putting green in your backyard using real or synthetic grass. Real turf consists of bentgrass and is less expensive, but the maintenance may not be worth the savings. Synthetic turf is the most common option—it costs more up front, but requires virtually no upkeep.
Dual-purpose outdoor spaces are the best bet for young families. Minimal hard surfaces and lots of soft lawn are the perfect choice for little ones running about and exploring their environment. Add a small swing to provide hours of fun. Include lots of pretty and fragrant flowers and a couple of trees to shade everyone on those hot summer days. Don’t forget a place for the grownups to chill while the kiddies are playing.
When planting a new flowerbed, take a cue from artists and interior designers by consulting the color wheel. If you’re not sure what colors will work together, a color wheel will help with the decision-making process. Choose from complementary, analogous or monochromatic colors. Or go with warm or cool colors. Try a few combinations on paper and see which you like best!
A koi pond is different than other types of water features. Remember, these creatures rely on you for their survival. You can’t just go off on vacation for a week or two and expect everything to be all right. The water needs to be drained and cleaned every few months. Koi tend to eat a lot. They need to be fed daily and with special food. You must constantly monitor the water pH and hardness to keep your fish happy and healthy
Consider a bulb garden for lavish color from spring until fall. Greet the melting snow with delicate crocus and daffodil flowers. Lilies of all kinds are fabulous summer dazzlers. Anemones give your garden a burst of color well into autumn.
If you are tired of your flat backyard, think about creating drama with a two-level planting bed. The homeowners designed a tiered bed to create interest in this rather boring yard. The project required bringing in several tons of soil to build up the ample beds. The plants will eventually fill in creating an amazing frame for the patio area.
A varied plant border provides a layered look that impresses year-round. Choosing the right plants is key. A few deciduous trees and shrubs maintain the green. A mix of flowers, blooming bushes and variegated plants can keep the color going through three seasons
Don’t you want your landscape to be full of emerald green grass, healthy tress and shrubs, and colorful flowers? Installing an automated sprinkler system is a great way to achieve a lush landscape without dragging the hose around the yard every day. In addition to being time savers, automatic sprinklers help conserve water by running on a consistent and timed schedule.
No matter the size of your backyard, designate a corner as your private oasis. If the spot is shady, consider including a feathery cycad known as sago palm. These low and slow-growing plants add a touch of the exotic to any space. Depending on your climate, they can be planted in containers or directly into the landscape.
If the view under or around your deck is less than attractive, improve it by creating planting beds to disguise the supports and bare ground underneath. Here, a fairly deep flower border was planted around the front supports of the deck facing the backyard. It hides the underside of the deck and adds color all summer long.
This elaborate garden has good bones. Landscape designers often use this term when referring to garden basics like these boxwood border shrubs, ample trees, water, good symmetry, plant placement, and variety of flowers. If your design includes all these elements, you, too, have a wonderful garden with good bones.
Observe nature at home by building a natural pond in your own backyard. You’ll cut down your trips to the zoo by bringing the wildlife right to your doorstep. Do some research and find out which animals will be attracted to your habitat. Check with the National Wildlife Federation for guidelines on providing animals food, water and shelter. Who knows, yours may be designated a certified habitat!
This romantic arbor gets its looks from the gorgeous clematis vines trained onto the structure. You can create the same look over the course of a summer with a few starter plants and an arbor frame. Before you know it, the arch will be completely covered in greenery and stunning blooms of red, pink, purple or white.