Backyard Garden Design Ideas

Outfit your backyard with the garden of your dreams. Discover tips to transform your yard into an outdoor living space.
Cottage Backyard

Enchanting Cottage Backyard With Paver Patio Walkway, Natural Rock Pond and Cozy Sitting Areas

A paver pathway leads out into the backyard to a sitting area that looks back over a reflective pond. Along the way a sunken fireside patio is separated from the pathway using natural stone steps. Mulched garden areas surround the patio sections giving natural life and color to the design.

Photo by: Mickman Brothers, Inc

Mickman Brothers, Inc

A paver pathway leads out into the backyard to a sitting area that looks back over a reflective pond. Along the way a sunken fireside patio is separated from the pathway using natural stone steps. Mulched garden areas surround the patio sections giving natural life and color to the design.

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

What Is an English Garden?

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

All About Square Foot Gardening

Learn the pros, cons and tips for exploring this beginner-friendly gardening method.

How to Design a Container Garden

Follow this simple design concept and boost the impact of your container gardens with plants of various sizes, textures and color combinations.

How to Plan and Build an Outdoor Kitchen

Aesthetics are important but when it comes to building an outdoor kitchen, functionality and durability reign supreme. Read our professional tips to budget, plan and design an outdoor kitchen that will add value to your home and lifestyle.

The All American-Made Backyard

What's red, white and blue all over? This perfectly patriotic backyard! Dress up your own outdoor space with some of these fun finds — all made in the USA.

Decks: Raised vs. Grade-Level

Keep these structure options in mind when deciding on a deck design.

Decks for Every Location

Learn about the best options for deck locations

Floating Decks

Find out all you need to know about floating decks and get great inspiration for your deck project.

Xeriscape Design Ideas

Dig into low water-use landscaping. This garden style is low-maintenance but big on beauty.

Learn About the Monarch Butterfly's Fall Migration

Make way for monarchs! This pretty, but threatened, butterflies migrate each fall to spend winter where frosts won’t find them. Discovered where you can experience this incredible, endangered annual migration.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.