Backyard Garden Design Ideas

Outfit your backyard with the garden of your dreams. Discover tips to transform your yard into an outdoor living space.
Backyard Garden Plot Yields Variety of Vegetables

Backyard Garden Plot Yields Variety of Vegetables

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Tame the Great Outdoors in your backyard by dressing up the space with a garden. Backyard gardens give ample opportunity for self-expression, since they’re typically somewhat private and hidden. If you’re dealing with wide open spaces out back, a garden can help solve that problem, too. Learn a few tips you can use in your backyard garden design.

The key word as you consider changing things in your yard is design. You want to plan and craft a backyard garden, not just let things happen. The best backyard garden designs start with pondering. Look at your backyard from interior spaces, a deck or patio and anywhere else you’ll be viewing the scenery on a daily basis. Observe your backyard at different times of the day and watch the sunlight patterns.

Backyard garden ideas might include a family food-production area, from a traditional vegetable garden to a small backyard berry patch or fruit orchard. Or your garden might be more of a beauty spot, a swath of gorgeous annual and perennial bloomers. You may want to include some type of water feature—a creek, pond or fountain. Or maybe you want a fire pit for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. Any of these options is viable in just about any backyard garden design.

If your backyard is sunny, you’ll have many more options for a garden. Vegetables yield best with a minimum of six hours of sun each day, but you’ll still get a harvest with as few as four. If you’re considering cottage garden designs, you’ll want to have some sunshine so you can grow classic cottage garden plants, like roses, peony, coneflower and daylily. A traditional mixed perennial border can thrive in sun or shade, although the sun version can include bloomers like butterfly bush, lavender, Russian sage and black-eyed susan.

Shade gardens typically star a mix of perennials, which can transform a ho-hum backyard into a serene grotto—the perfect spot to hang a hammock. If you have deep shade, you might get more sunshine by trimming trees. It’s worth having a free consultation with a tree specialist to learn your options. If you’re conflicted about trimming trees, remember that fewer limbs yield fewer autumn leaves—and more sunlight can help grass grow better beneath trees.

Include seating in your backyard garden design. A low-maintenance stone bench or a bistro set don’t take up too much backyard real estate, and both provide comfy perches to savor the garden scene. If space permits, consider including a patio or pergola-covered dining area in the midst of the garden.

Every garden needs focal points, so be sure to include something that commands and directs attention. A trellis (covered with white lights for evening enjoyment), a pretty pot on a pedestal, a sundial sculpture—choose a focal point that underscores your personal style and complements the garden. If your backyard garden features different planting areas, use focal points in each one. Consider incorporating the same color on focal points throughout the garden as a thread to stitch separate areas together.

Above all, remember to view your garden from every angle—including from indoors—as you finalize the design. This is vitally important if you garden in a region where winter puts the garden to bed. You don’t want to be looking at a blank slate all winter. Choose and site plants and hardscape to stir some interest no matter the season.

Next Up

Outdoor Living Spaces: Ideas for Outdoor Rooms

Learn about options and ideas for outdoor rooms and outdoor living spaces.

Designing Outdoor Spaces

Give clients exactly what they want with these nine tips.

Garden Design: Connect Your Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

Let your indoor space inspire your landscape design plans.

Design of Outdoor Spaces Just as Important as Inside

Master gardener Maureen Gilmer gives tips on designing a great outdoor space.

Define Your Outdoor Space With a Garden Fence

Discover the materials and design that will work best for your garden boundary, whether it is a fence, wall or hedge.

Vegetable Garden Design Ideas

Learn what you should consider before finalizing your vegetable garden plans.

Courtyard Garden Design Ideas

Create a private escape with a courtyard garden. These enclosed spaces blend garden with the comforts of home.

Garden Design: Increasing Proportions

Too-tiny features in a big backyard (and vice versa) can make for awkward garden design. HGTV shows you how to strike just the right balance in this garden makeover.

English Garden Design

Learn the elements of enchanting English gardens, and discover ways to translate that look to your yard.

Ideas for Designing With Plants

Use these simple guidelines to achieve the garden look that best suits your budget and lifestyle.