Hot Backyard Design Ideas to Try Now

The results are in! Backyards are back and better than ever. Check out these hot backyard design ideas and find out which trends homeowners are clamoring for right now.
By: Briana Mowrey

Photo By: DK - Garden Design © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Stuart Lirette

©Copyright 2009 Mathew Borkoski Photography

Photo By: DK - Garden Design © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Gardens: Totally Organic Experiences

Gardens are among the most sought-after outdoor design elements overall, according to the American Society of Landscape Architects' 2013 Residential Design Trends Survey. The ASLA asked residential landscape architects to rate the expected popularity of outdoor design elements for the year and gardens are a front-runner at 94%. Proof that the local food movement is gaining traction? The survey also predicts an increase in people opting for fruit and vegetable gardens (76.4% popularity) and that organic gardens are becoming more in-demand (up to 65.3% versus 61.2% in the 2011 survey).

Fire Pits: Burning Up the Charts

The popularity of gardens may seem a bit predictable. The real breakout stars of the ASLA survey are fire pits (like this one built by Carter Oosterhouse) and fireplaces at 97% popularity. They're so hot, they just edged out our next fiery feature...

From: Jane Ellison

Grills: Your Backyard BBQ HQs

Grills may have been beaten by fire pits in this popularity contest, but they aren't going anywhere. Sure, you can roast hot dogs and marshmallows over a pit, but for flame-broiled burgers? You gotta fire up that grill.

Hardscapes: A Lush Landscape's Perfect Partner

Homeowners and landscaping experts agree: work one or more of the types of hardscape into your backyard for a professionally planned look. Stacked stone retaining walls, paver patios and meandering pathways are just a few of the hottest hardscapes to try. Learn more about these durable outdoor surfaces.

Outdoor Dining Areas: Alfresco, Elevated

Dining areas are a must-have outdoor living feature lately, at 96.3% popularity. After all, everything tastes better when enjoyed in the great outdoors. To ensure maximum comfort, choose comfortable chairs with durable cushions so dinner guests will linger for coffee and conversation.

Decks: Taking Living Outdoors

Extending your home's indoor living space into the backyard, decks are a must-have for many homeowners and pros alike with an 80.9% rating. For a low-maintenance surface that will stand the test of time, opt for composite materials over traditional wood.  

Arbors: Stylish Structures

Arbors are looking especially attractive right now at 83.5% popularity. They're a romantic touch in gardens, and as this Going Yard example shows, excellent at providing transitions between two spaces.

Pergolas: Made In the Shade

Part of pergolas' popularity (81.6%) is that they provide structure and shade yet still manage to feel open and airy. Going Yard offers a triple-threat here with a pergola, outdoor dining room and fire pit — in the same yard!

Hot Tubs: Take a Dip

Spa features, such as hot tubs, whirlpools and saunas, are among the most popular outdoor recreation amenities, at 81.5% popularity. And, it's easy to see why -- who wouldn't want to sink into this beauty at the end of a long day? 

Container Gardens: The Perfect Small Space Solution

Apartment dwellers, rejoice! You too can enjoy an outdoor space that's beautiful and provides you with fresh flowers and fruits or veggies -- you just have to contain it. Experts anticipate that the popularity of container gardening will continue to rise as food costs increase and more and more urbanites embrace the benefits of going organic.  

Play Structures: Kid Tested, Mother Approved

Backyards are a kid's best friend. Play structures like treehouses, swing sets or this seesaw from a backyard featured on Going Yard can provide hours of fun for children, which may explain their relatively high popularity rate (56.3%) amongst other outoor structures in the survey.

Fountains: Water, Featured

Fountains (such as this pretty Going Yard example) and other ornamental water features are big trends in both gardens (84.7%) and backyards in general (84.2%). In addition to being striking focal points, they're wonderfully musical — a delight for the senses.

Fencing: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

The old saying that good fences make good neighbors may be true, if fencing's popularity ranking against other outdoor structures in the survey (89.6%) is any indication. Fences are the obvious choice for adding privacy but they also can create a beautiful backdrop for blooming plants.

Patio + Pergola: A Perfect Pair

If you want to enjoy the sunshine, with just a little shade, a patio (97.6% popularity) and pergola (81.6%) make a perfect pair. You can opt for a pergola kit where the lumber is already pre-cut for DIY installation or hire a pro for a custom build.

TVs + Movie Theaters: Scenic Screenings

Miss the experience of seeing flicks at the drive-in? Bring movies to your backyard instead! A projector, screen and surround sound are all you need in the AV department. Theater seats (seen here from Going Yard) evoke the feeling of the multiplex. Just add popcorn.

Backyard Bars: Drink In Your Surroundings

Backyard bars, like this example from Going Yard, are a natural extension of the outdoor dining room trend. They're great for entertaining, and the extra seating and counter space (74.4% popularity) are desirable features in backyards right now. Cheers to that!

Lighting: Get Your Glow On

If you want to enjoy your yard into the evening hours, add your own illumination. At 95.1% popularity, getting your glow on is hot, hot, hot! LED and low-voltage lights are trendy now, though there are plenty of pretty options (like tiki torches, string lights and these lanterns from Going Yard) that don't require major installation.

Gazebos: Sweet for a Seat

Gazebos currently rank as somewhat popular (44.8%), and while their looks add charm, they can also add function to your yard. This gazebo from Going Yard doubles as a tea room, thanks to the addition of some weatherized outdoor furniture (82.3% popularity).

Art: Adds Interest

Some statements can be purely decorative. These mounted vintage bikes from Going Yard dress up an otherwise bland wall for not much money. Art's 61% popularity rating amongst other outdoor structures proves it's not just an afterthought anymore.

Play Structures: Add a Kid-Friendly Zone

Designated backyard areas where kids can be kids are always a hit. This old sailboat upcycled into a nautical sandbox will let your little buccaneer's imagination set sail. Learn how to make your own with our step-by-step instructions.