When it comes to curb appeal, yard upgrades pack the biggest punch. Clearly delineating spaces for dining, relaxing and playing with kids can dramatically alter the look and feel of a Backyard Renovation.
Sloping front yards can be difficult to maintain — trudging up and down with a mower is not fun! To make them easier to care for, install turf and use plants in varying heights to add visual interest.
The Dreamy Backyard
Even small or oddly-shaped backyards can be transformed into dreamy outdoor living spaces. The key is to see past the limitations of size, regulations, and existing features. Think of them as extra inspiration for your own creative vision, rather than obstacles to overcome.
A deck can elevate a backyard into an amazing party spot without requiring much in the way of yard work. A simple paving stone layout can be augmented with seating and tables, or a lean-to greenhouse style can add a cozy hangout spot.
Backyards that are meant for parties, lounging and dining need to be comfortable and inviting. Create a cozy outdoor room with cushioned dining chairs and throw pillows, or make it a place to read or nap with a custom hammock topped with a sheepskin topper. Lighting is also a game changer, so add string lights or lanterns to illuminate your backyard for nighttime entertaining and relaxing. Even simple touches, like painting the swing set a fun shade of Farrow & Ball exterior paint, can make this space feel special and truly belong to your family.
The Boring Backyard
A boring backyard can be a real drag on your property. It’s like having a spare room that nobody ever wants to spend time in—it’s just another empty space where you have to do the chores that no one really cares about (like mowing the lawn or cleaning the pool).
To make this yard more appealing, the owners replaced the grass with pavers and added a new fire pit. They also trimmed the old landscaping, resulting in clean lines that are easy to maintain.
If you don’t want to add a fire element, a water feature can be an alternative way to add interest to your backyard. Whether it’s a simple fountain or something more elaborate like a pondless waterfall, water can create a sense of serenity in your backyard. Just be sure to keep the water area away from any plants or shrubs that could get wet. Defining spaces in your backyard can also help create a dining area, play space, shady lounging spot or garden.
The Small Backyard
Even if your yard lacks square footage, you can still make it feel like a lush vacation retreat. It’s just a matter of focusing on your priorities and working with the right landscaping team to make them a reality.
For example, if a shady lounging area is your priority, consider a bistro set or an intimate sitting bench rather than an entire backyard patio to save on budget and maintenance. The same goes for other features you may dream of, such as a pool. While a playground may seem fun for kids, you might find a fairy garden or tree swing is more practical and can be easily transformed into a flower garden when the kids outgrow it.
If your space has a slope, retaining walls can be an effective way to separate living spaces and make them feel larger. They also add visual interest, as this 2LG Studio-designed yard shows. Elevating seating areas creates another layer of separation that makes the area feel more dynamic.
The Concrete Backyard
Backyards often have concrete patios or walkways, but they can be transformed into more inviting outdoor rooms with creative hardscaping. Concrete can be stamped, engraved or stenciled to resemble pricier stone or brick pavers at a fraction of the cost. Seat walls, fountains, ponds, arbors and fragrant plantings can also draw the eye into your garden, creating destinations throughout the yard that link with welcoming pathways.
In this backyard from Mindy Gayer Design Co, the smooth poured concrete of the open porch contrasts with terra-cotta pavers in an adjacent area to create a harmonious backyard arrangement. This garden also makes good use of rolled turf, which provides a modern lawn that’s easier to maintain than seeding grass from scratch.
The best time to begin a backyard makeover is late spring through early fall, when temperatures are mild. However, some projects can be accelerated by siphoning off excess water with French drains or other drainage solutions, which should be installed before any major landscaping takes place.