Small Backyard Landscape Design

Turn your small backyard into a big asset with easy landscape design ideas.

After: Raising the Bar

After: Raising the Bar

Custom-built raised beds provide a place for the whole family to plant flowers or their own food.

Photo by: Photo by Jamie Rector

Photo by Jamie Rector

Custom-built raised beds provide a place for the whole family to plant flowers or their own food.

There are endless options for small backyard landscape design plans, no matter the style or size of your home.

Plan With a Purpose

The first question you should ask yourself before designing a landscape plan for your small backyard is, "What am I going to use this space for?" Will your backyard be a space for entertaining, complete with a patio, fire pit and fence or privacy hedge? Or is it just a grassy area for kids and dogs to play and get fresh air? Or maybe it's where you use your green thumb for raised beds of tomatoes and cucumbers in the summer. Whatever your small backyard means to you, your landscape plan should follow suit.

Starting From Scratch

If your small backyard needs a complete overhaul and you're looking to create a new backyard by removing trees or clearing and leveling land, then you can design your landscape plan on an empty slate. How much shade or privacy do you need? Do you need a fence, wall or other barricades for your small backyard? Think about the proportion and size of any trees you'd like to plant at the borders of the yard (something too big might overwhelm the space) and then work your design inward toward your back door. Will there be a lawn, natural groundcover, pavers or concrete? Will you install a new patio or deck/porch? Once you've designated these items and hardscapes on your plan, you can start thinking about the plants, water features and other decorative elements that fit your small backyard.

Making Your Small Backyard Seem Larger

If you're looking for ways to maximize the space in your small backyard without clearing existing tree or shrubs, then a good cleanup is in order. You may not be able to expand the square footage of usable space in your backyard, but by trimming everything in sight (including trees) and cleaning out any unwanted brush, leaves, straw, stones or other unwanted debris, you can create the illusion of a bigger yard. If you have a back lawn, make sure it's edged. A crisp dividing line between grasses and bordering beds works wonders.

Don't Forget the Flowers

Flowers are the welcome wagon of your home. These are the plants that beckon and welcome visitors to your outdoor spaces, including your small backyard, where the most frequent visitor is likely to be you. Backyard plantings can be elaborate, but they don't have to be. Even adding a few planters, pots or hanging baskets can add flavor to a small backyard and give your landscaping a mini-makeover.

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