45 Backyard Landscaping Ideas for Creating the Ultimate Outdoor Living Space
Spruce up your outdoor space with one or more of these landscaping ideas, and transform your backyard into your new favorite place. From small DIY landscaping projects to professional overhauls, we’ve got all the inspiration you need to create a backyard oasis.
Incentivize yourself to spend more time enjoying your yard and garden. Fresh air, natural light, and the right backyard landscaping ideas convert your outdoor space into a highly desirable hangout area. Creating your ideal backyard landscape is achieved through a combination of cultivated areas that make a space relaxing and rejuvenating, while also adding value to your home!
Upgrading your deck and backyard can be as simple as a few minor updates, or you can completely overhaul the entire outdoor area with beautiful landscaping, fully equipped outdoor rooms, and other enjoyment areas. There are endless ideas for backyard landscaping; here are some of our favorites.
1. English Cottage Garden
Fit for a storybook, English cottage gardens are the epitome of charm. With a dense hodgepodge of flowers, edible fruits, and veggies, these gardens are quaint and imperfect. Go crazy and plant a little bit of a lot of different things to achieve this picturesque outdoor style. Plant some lavender here, daisies or other florals there, a boxwood, some vines and other shrubs . . . you get it. The overall look is only limited to plants that thrive in your climate.
2. Water Feature with Fountain
Water features add elegance and zen to a backyard. Let the soft babbling and gentle splashes relax the vibe of your outdoor space. Depending on the space you have available, a water fountain can be added to a backyard pond or pool, it can be part of a birdbath, or it can be an above-ground or small tabletop structure.
3. Several Seating Areas
Having several seating areas is beneficial for more than just backyard parties. When you consider the different types of seats you have indoors, it makes sense to add extra seating outside too. Incorporate different chairs for eating, lounging, reading, and more to get the most from your space. Rather than drag the same patio chair around the yard to enjoy or avoid the sun, having strategically placed patio furniture ensures you and your guests always have a comfortable place to relax.
4. Minimalist Outdoor Space
Adding more landscaping elements to your yard may not necessarily be the answer. For some, more furniture, more plants and flowers, more bird feeders, and more of anything else can make a yard feel cluttered. You also need to consider the time and care it takes to maintain everything you add to your backyard living space. Find calm and contentment by taking away the extra stuff, and highlighting your yard’s simple, natural beauty.
5. Multipurpose Backyard
Backyard landscaping ideas have to suit the needs and desires of your entire household. In a single yard, you may need space for kids to play, you may want a vertical garden, you may need to plant trees to provide more shade, you may want to plant flowers that attract bees and hummingbirds, and the list goes on. Before deciding on a drastic change that limits the use of your backyard, consider everything you want to use it for, and make sure that your landscaping ideas work in harmony with your lifestyle.
6. Well-Placed Retaining Wall
A useful and attractive sloped backyard landscaping idea is the addition of a retaining wall. This wall holds back soil and prevents soil erosion and potential damage to your home. Before breaking ground on a retaining wall, have a detailed understanding of the property line, above ground and underground utilities, know that the soil will support the wall, and that the wall has good drainage. There are plenty of available designs that fit in wonderfully with the atmosphere you’re creating with your backyard landscaping.
7. Small Swimming Pool
It’s hard to beat the appeal of a gorgeous and inviting pool. The calming blue color it adds to a space makes it feel like a vacation in your own backyard. A home with a pool is the place to be in the summer, whether you’re hanging out with friends, reading, or swimming laps. There are a variety of pools out there to suit your specific needs—your ideal backyard pool landscaping may include a diving board, a small pool for the kids, or a specific shape or length. The right pool contractor can bring your vision to life.
8. Ground-Level Deck
Say the word “deck” and you may conjure images of a barbecue grill area, a cozy outdoor room, a fresh air yoga space, and a ton of other potential uses. Advantages to adding a deck include less landscaping maintenance, more room to entertain, aesthetic appeal, and potentially increased property value. There are a lot of reasons to say yes to adding a deck to your backyard, what’s yours?
9. Pretty Pond
One way to amp up your outdoor relaxation is by building a pond. Do it well, and this outdoor pond landscaping idea becomes a stress-free space that exudes feelings of calm. Fill it with fish and pond plants, such as horsetail, taro, or water lilies. After you establish the ecosystem, maintenance is minimal, and you can spend more time enjoying the pond than working on it. A backyard pond is a terrific addition to a large backyard and gives you a noteworthy feature for your home.
10. Lush Lawn
Let’s face it, how the grass looks makes or breaks the aesthetic of your backyard landscaping. Thick, perfectly tended grass has a simple beauty that makes a yard look amazing. It’s never too late to improve the look and feel of your grass. Whether you grow grass from seed, or get a near-instant upgrade with turf, you can’t go wrong investing in your lawn.
11. Gardens Galore
Who says you can only have one kind of garden? Every home, no matter how big or small, has the space for a garden. Depending on your passions and your space, your new garden may be a style you hadn’t yet considered. Edible vegetable gardens and ornamental tropical plant or flower gardens are popular. With limited space you can add a vertical garden or raised garden bed to your deck or patio, start an indoor herb garden, small succulent garden, fairy garden, and more.
12. Drought Tolerant Landscaping
Dry weather doesn’t have to annihilate your garden and lawn every year. Certain climates have windows of time when there’s no rain and the moisture in the soil dries up. If droughts occur in your area, avoid the heartache of investing in water-loving plants and switch to drought tolerant greenery. Depending on your local climate, adding plants like lavender, catmint, California poppy, yarrow, and artemisia keeps your outdoor space colorful and thriving.
13. Filled with Flower Beds
Flower-filled gardens are lovely, but flower beds and pots give your backyard landscaping a little something extra. Elevated flower beds are kinder to the back muscles, with less bending required to prune, plant, and maintain. Flower beds can be placed in areas where they’ll get the right amount of sun, which may lead to more thriving flower gardens. An empty or neglected flower bed attracts attention for all the wrong reasons; keep your flowers perky and thriving by selecting outdoor plants meant for your climate.
14. Paver Patio
The addition of a patio off a bedroom or other living space gives you another outdoor area to beautify. Create a serene place for drinking your morning coffee, entertaining, or enjoying a different view of your backyard. Decorate your patio with furniture, string lights, wall art, and greenery and create a micro paradise.
15. Minimal Mowing
Enjoying your backyard and maintaining it are two separate activities. For more pleasure and less upkeep, bring features to your backyard landscaping that reduce the amount of grass you need to mow. Instead of grass, build a deck or terrace to extend your living space. Still want the greenery without the work? Replace traditional lawn turf with creeping thyme – it gives you a beautiful, hassle-free lawn that can still be stepped on.
16. Vegetable Gardens
Cut your grocery bill by growing your own seasonal produce. Not only is a vegetable garden a charming backyard landscaping idea, but it also provides you with a hobby that gets you outside in the fresh air. It’s hard to beat the taste of healthy, fresh veggies you grow and harvest yourself. While summer is a time when many veggies thrive, there are still many vegetables you can grow through the fall.
17. Fully Fenced
Dreaming of a house with a white picket fence? Maybe you prefer your privacy? There are many reasons to get an aesthetically pleasing fence, and it’s not just to keep urban critters out of your yard. Depending on your backyard landscaping ideas, a fence creates a neutral backdrop that you can use to design your perfect backyard space. Pick a fence with decorative appeal and enhance it with some creeping plants, outdoor lights, or weather-resistant art.
18. Welcoming Walkway
Instead of using a gaudy “keep of the grass” sign, a clear walkway is a simple way to keep foot traffic off a lawn. Depending on your outdoor landscaping decor, walkways can be simple rocks, marble or cement tiles, wood planks, decorative concrete, and more. Find what fits your style and use it to create a clear path around your home.
19. Starry String Lights
The addition of string lights adds ambiance to an outdoor space, and allows visibility for entertaining well past sunset. From classic Edison bulbs to novelty chili peppers, string lights come in several designs to suit a variety of style preferences. Make sure you hang outdoor string lights safely and out of the way of walking paths. We like these highly rated simple string lights available at Amazon because they suit any occasion.
20. Partial Privacy
When it comes to fencing, all-around fences may feel a bit like you’re boxed into your own backyard. If there’s a side of the house that offers beautiful views, partial privacy opens up your yard and gives you access to the visual wonders of your neighborhood. Partial privacy can be achieved with minimal fencing, a trellis or pergola, a living fence of cedars or other greenery, outdoor curtains, and many other options, too.
RELATED: 11 Ideas for Better Backyard Privacy
Not a trellis and not a gazebo, a pergola is a distinct structure that can stand alone or attach to the side of your home (though permits may be required). Known for its vertical columns and crossbeams, a pergola is a stunning addition to backyard landscaping. It can provide shade with a fabric canopy or climbing plants, offer an elegant place to sit or mingle, and has a beauty that no other structure captures. This simple pergola available at Wayfair is one of our favorites.
22. Shade Trees
Being in the sun all day isn’t the best for you. With harmful UV rays, enjoying the outdoors properly means being responsible and seeking shade when you’re able. If your backyard landscaping is a little light on shade, it’s never too late to plant some trees and gain extra shade every year. The best shade trees pair well with relaxing, playful children, and hammock hangouts.
23. Storage Shed
Prolific gardeners, pool owners, and tool enthusiasts need a place to keep all their gear, or they risk cluttering up their gorgeous backyard. No longer merely a practical storage building on your property, a shed is part of your yard sight lines and should be selected for how well it suits the feel of your yard. For its size, aesthetic, and usefulness, this highly rated shed available at Wayfair fits nicely in many large backyards.
24. Geometric Backyard Landscaping
The clean lines of modern homes translate well into modern landscaping ideas. Mirror the shape of structures and features around your home within your backyard landscaping. This creates a cohesive aesthetic that flows well throughout your indoor and outdoor living spaces. These shape details can be incorporated into the planters you select, walkway stones, the style of patio furniture, and even how you prune your trees and plants.
Marry practical design with aesthetically pleasing features by adding a courtyard to your outdoor space. This open air area is usually surrounded by walls or buildings. At your home, it may be the space between your home and detached garage, guest house, or pool. Rather than force a grassy lawn in an area that sees a lot of foot traffic, lean into hard concrete, decorative tiles, and brick designs that could add a different kind of beauty (and less maintenance) to an outdoor area.
26. Slope Solution
Every backyard is different, and they’re not all flat. Landscaping a sloped backyard can be a lot of fun, giving you different heights for planting flowers and greenery for extra visual interest. Mowing sloped terrain in its current state may not be your favorite chore, but it’s easy to fix. Areas with a difficult slope can be transformed into flower beds, a succulent garden, decorative rock beds, and more.
27. Fit in a Fire Pit
When night falls, gather around an outdoor fire pit. Bond over a fireside chat, stay warm while stargazing, have a date night in your own backyard, roast marshmallows, or just get mesmerized watching the flames flicker and dance around. Memories are made around a fire pit, for young and old. From rustic to elegant, wood fuel or propane, a backyard fire pit is sure to see a lot of use.
28. Quiet Corner
Many of our backyard landscaping ideas lend themselves to entertaining. Not everyone needs a space to mingle and party, but instead some folks would get more use from a quiet backyard sanctuary. If that’s you, find your favorite area of your backyard, and turn it into your own peaceful place. Partial privacy options can create a little hideaway in your own yard, giving you the mental break you need to meditate, read, or think.
29. Outdoor Kitchen
Hosting an outdoor dinner always seems like a great idea, until you’re on what feels like your millionth trip from the kitchen to the outdoor dining table. Outdoor dining becomes a heck of a lot easier when you create the outdoor kitchen of your dreams. Your outdoor kitchen may include a barbecue grill with cooking elements, pizza oven, blender, outdoor fridge, or outdoor sink. Pretty much anything you keep in your regular kitchen can be added to your outdoor kitchen–just make sure you have access to power outlets.
30. Backyard Fireplace
A fire pit is usually the middle of the action, where guests gather around it. An outdoor fireplace, on the other hand, tends to be on the periphery, larger than a fire pit, and generally more opulent. Some come with mantles, they can be modern or rustic, and they are made from an array of materials. When building your outdoor fireplace, try to place it in a direction that blocks prevailing wind, so it retains more heat for those sitting in front of it.
31. Landscape with a Trellis
Limited space for greenery? Add a trellis and grow more flowers and plants vertically. This decorative addition is for any size yard and adds a touch of artistry to a landscape design. These can be simple or ornate, depending on the statement you want to make. Made from materials like iron, bamboo, or wood, a trellis can be made or bought in several designs to suit the decor of your backyard.
32. Desert Design
Many grasses and plants are ill-suited for hot, dry climates. Choose instead plants and landscaping styles that lend themselves to backyards with dry conditions, or for those who like a low-maintenance backyard. Opt for zen sandboxes, succulent or cactus gardens, interesting rock formations, and decorative elements, like pergolas, that help create pockets of shade.
33. Outdoor Dining
When the gorgeous weather arrives, make the most of it. Soak up that vitamin D and enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner beneath a blue sky (or covered patio). When you spend so much time cultivating a beautiful backyard landscape, you want to enjoy it as much as possible. A comfortable, attractive outdoor dining set adds more functionality to your space.
34. Personal Oasis
Like water in a desert, a backyard oasis is a place you create that’s refreshing and recharging. For some, it’s a set of Adirondack chairs by a water feature, but it could be a small pool tucked away behind a partial privacy screen. For others, an oasis is a relaxing porch swing or hammock. Whatever you need to fuel your spirit—from art, to aromatic flowers, to the perfect outdoor chair— that’s your oasis.
35. Place for Kids to Play
Some families need to incorporate a place that meets the specific needs of children. From sandboxes to playgrounds, kids require an outdoor area that’s just for them–otherwise their games may encroach on other areas of your landscaping that you want them to avoid. Investing in a large activity structure, such as this highly rated cedar swing set available at Wayfair, keeps kids busy for hours.
36. Stepping Stones
A series of flat stepping stones give your family and friends stable footing across certain terrain in your backyard. This backyard landscaping idea can be purely decorative, but it usually offers a safe way to step through gardens, across grass, over a rock bed, and even across a shallow water feature. Guide visitors safely through your backyard by providing stepping stones where you want people to walk. Create your own stepping stones, or purchase ones that fit your backyard, such as these resin stepping stones available at Wayfair.
37. Elevated Patio
Concrete’s not just a slab of gray, hard landscaping that looks like a boring sidewalk. Over the last several years, concrete has become more of an art form. Concrete contractors can color and stamp concrete into various designs and styles, further elevating the appearance of your outdoor flooring, and tying your landscaping designs together.
38. Outdoor Living Room
Patio furniture has become more diverse as consumers spend more time living outside when the weather is warm. From weather-resistant outdoor couches to recliners, side tables, and even outdoor televisions hung under a covered patio, an outdoor living room gives you all the comfort and amenities you need to stay outside all day long.
39. Collection of Container Gardens
It’s possible for everyone to have a garden for their home (actually!). Container gardening uses pots for growing plants, veggies, and flowers instead of growing them in the ground. This style is popular for those living in urban spaces who may only have a small yard or patio for landscaping. Container gardens also work beautifully scattered throughout a large yard that also has in-ground gardens.
Not sure what to plant in your container garden? Here are a few ideas to bring pollinators to your outdoor space.
40. Backyard Bar
It’s five o’clock somewhere! If you have the patio or deck space, a bar setup may make your backyard the neighborhood hangout during happy hour. A dedicated and stocked bar space is a tremendous upgrade from a bar cart. Serious DIYers may embrace the challenge of creating a bespoke bar setup by the pool or in their outdoor living room, while others may prefer to spend the money to get a bar setup, like this one available at Etsy.
41. Rustic Backyard Retreat
Dial back the modern influence and settle into a casual, rustic backyard landscape design. This simple backyard landscaping idea just feels comfortable, like your favorite pair of warm socks. Wood and metal accents, mismatched planters, and plants that aren’t perfectly trimmed makes it feel like an escape from the city with a farmhouse, woodsy feel.
42. Backyard Chicken Coop
The sun rises and the rooster crows, signaling the start of another beautiful day. Wouldn’t it be great to have your own chicken coop in the backyard? Fresh eggs as often as you like, and the potential to start a small urban farm. Chicken coops and their feathered inhabitants add a lot of entertainment to a backyard, too. This idea is reserved for large backyard landscaping, so your chickens get enough room to run around. Build your own, or buy this enormous chicken coop, available at Etsy.
43. Nap Zone
A short afternoon siesta can leave you feeling refreshed. Chilling out in the gentle sway of a hammock and drifting off into sleep feels incredible. Beneath the shade of strong trees, outdoor naps come with the ambient noise of your yard, which could be a fountain, birds in the distance, or rustling leaves. Get your share of peaceful moments by tying up a hammock between two trees, like this handmade hammock available at Etsy.
44. Terraced Backyard Landscaping
For attractive and useful sloped backyard landscaping ideas, terraced gardens are a must. Using retaining walls creates sturdy and accessible garden beds, allowing homeowners to turn formerly difficult areas into beloved outdoor spaces. These tiered garden beds make planting possible in areas that were previously unusable. Creating multiple, leveled sections evens out water distribution, which prevents ground erosion.
45. Path Lighting
Stop fumbling around in the dark, and shine some light into areas of your backyard. Selecting outdoor lanterns for walkways keeps people safe, and creates an opportunity for homeowners to add another personal touch to their outdoor space. The layout of your space lets you know the best type of path lighting, whether it’s installed or portable, like these whimsical lanterns available at Etsy.