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10 Landscape Designs for Small Backyards

Transform Your Not-So-Big Backyard into an Attractive, Charming, and Comfortable Place



It’s everything you’ve imagined your dream home would be – well, except for the little backyard. But as they say, don’t sweat the small stuff. Get your imagination and creativity going – and take on an exciting “do-it-yourself” project to turn your small backyard into a comfortable and captivating spot. 




1.  Clean and Uncluttered Go a Long Way


Follow the basic rule of a well-maintained and healthy-looking yard. Mow the grass regularly, weed out wild flowers, and get rid of the debris around the space. Don’t overwhelm the yard with too many plants and flowers – less gives an illusion of a bigger space. So be selective in your plantings, and take care of the plants and flowers in the yard. See to it that they are well tended, get enough water and sun, and are trimmed properly.


Here’s a small space that’s big on appeal and charm. Strategically planted shrubs and flowers give this smallish backyard of a 1-story, 3-bedroom Craftsman style home plan an uncluttered and inviting look (House Plan #169-1016). 




2.  Create a Highlight Point


A fire pit, a water feature, perhaps a fountain or a rock garden provides an eye-catching diversion from the small yard and captures the attention of visitors right away. 


Two faces of a fire pit: Left: Get an idea from this fire pit in a 2-story, 5-bedroom luxury home plan for your small yard (House Plan #165-1077). Right: Unlatch the door, and walk directly to this small backyard’s “highlight” spot: a gravel fire pit!   




3.  Color It Bright


Whether you choose shrubs and flowers at the entry way to the backyard or something else like cushions and pillow on the deck or patio furniture, adding a splash of color emphasizes the vibrancy of the space – and not its size. 


Purple flowers mixed with the shrubs along the edges of the backyard of this 1-story, 4-bedroom Contemporary style house plan give it a serene and calm aura (Home Plan #190-1011).



For a bigger “wow” factor, go with brighter and bolder colors – as in the vibrant blue and orange in this cozy backyard corner




4.  Light It Up


Spruce up the backyard with some creative lighting fixtures for your spring and summer night entertaining. Positioned at different levels, lights make a small space look bigger. In addition to a fire pit, there are string lights, glass candle lanterns, path lighting, hanging tea lights, or railing jars.


Left: String lights illuminate a small backyard and give it enhanced ambiance for outdoor dining. Right: Tea lights hang on tree branches. 


You can also hang jars on railings for more atmosphere. 




5.  Keep Outdoor Furniture to a Minimum – but Dress It Up


Be selective and efficient in your choice of backyard furniture, and make sure there’s enough room to move around the chairs and tables. Think comfort, practicality, and function – and don’t forget colors and accents to perk up the space.  


Left: Less is more. Minimalist furnishings with colorful touches are the attraction in this small backyard. Right: An array of throw pillows in warm earth tones is the focus in this yard. The complementary shades are eye-catching and appealing.   




6.  Separate the Yard into Distinct but Flowing Areas


A garden oasis, outdoor dining/entertaining area, and ample green grass can be accommodated in a small backyard with some imaginative division of space, paving, and landscaping. 


Three in one: With some creativity, this not-so-big backyard of a 1-story, 4-bedroom Craftsman style home plan comes up with a garden, a cozy outdoor dining area, and plenty of green grass to soothe the eyes (House Plan # 163-1006). 




7.  Landscape Paths


Use pavers, stepping-stones, plants, and shrubs of varying heights, shapes, and colors along the pathway for enhanced visual attraction.


White blooms and tall slender trees line the pathway of this backyard in a 2-story, 3-bedroom Beachfront style house plan (Home Plan #168-1011). 




8.  Use Walls / Deck Ceilings for Planters


An empty wall or fence in the backyard can be a very nice “home” for plants and flowers. In many small backyards, a vertical flower or herb garden is a very popular option. Another idea is to hang flower pots around the ceiling of a covered deck.   


Left: A spot on the wall becomes an ideal “home” for flower and plantsRight: Tall shrubs are planted against the wall in this backyard of a 2-story, 3-bedroom Florida style home plan (House Plan #117-1097).




9.  Hang Mirrors on the Fence to Make It Kook Bigger


Give your backyard the illusion of a larger space by hanging a tall mirror on the fence. The mirror not only makes the backyard look bigger but also serves as a unique decorative piece – and even a spotlight point in the yard. 


Use optical illusion to great advantage: An antique-designed tall mirror hanging against the fence enclosure makes a small backyard look bigger than its actual dimensions.  




10.  Don’t Forget Your Garden!


Even when you think you’ve utilized every inch of space in your backyard, you can always find that perfect spot in the backyard for an indispensable flower garden. So if a vertical garden is not your style, how about a fairy garden in one corner of your yard?   


Bring something magical and enchanting to a small backyard by planting a few colorful blooms in a mini-garden



So take heart! That small backyard has more potential than you realize. Be adventurous, and tinker with the space to unearth its enormous possibilities!



Footnote: The left-hand photograph in the lead image of this article is a stone fire pit in a small backyard. For more information, click here.   





May 18, 2016

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