13 Exotic Ideas to Transform a Basic Backyard

Don’t bother booking that summer vacation in the tropics, because with a few well-chosen touches, you can enjoy a verdant oasis right in your own backyard. In fact, it doesn’t take much to transform a plain deck, patio, porch, or yard into a dazzling exotic hangout. Take some hints from these 13 backyards that demonstrate the power of details and show you how to create an inviting escape without breaking the bank.

  1. Live Graciously in a Small Space

    Exotic Balcony Outdoor Space

    An odd-shaped gallery is transformed into a cozy outdoor living room in this backyard revamp. Greenery, assorted accent pillows, and a smart mix of materials make for a lush and welcoming spot.

    The DIY Playbook

  2. Add Curtains to a Pergola

    Curtains on Pergola Beachy Backyard

    Outfit a pergola with durable, UV-resistant outdoor drapery for a resort-worthy patio. The billowy curtains add a touch of luxury and provide privacy when needed.

    A Beautiful Mess

  3. Oh, the Wonders of Tropical Plants

    Tropical Plants Exotic Backyard

    A monochromatic patio morphs into an exotic cabana, thanks to elegant curtains, dainty lights along the ceiling, and leafy tropical plants. In regions with ultracold winters, bring potted greenery indoors before frost arrives, then set the pots outside again when summer returns. 

    Related: 18 Plants Perfect for Hanging Baskets

    A Beautiful Mess

  4. Carve Out a Tropical Corner

    Tropical Plants Backyard Seating Area

    You don’t need decking or an expanse of pavers to define an inviting spot in your backyard. Large majesty palms, twinkly lights, and jewel-toned accents transform this simple corner into a tropical retreat. 

    Related: The Best Ways to Light the Backyard

    Jen Woodhouse

  5. Bring the Beach to the Backyard

    Exotic Hammock Backyard

    A small urban yard becomes a sandy shore with the help of plants, a comfy hammock, and bright, playful chairs. Tall cedar fencing blocks out surrounding buildings and provides the privacy that's crucial for a beach retreat.

    Sweeten Stories

  6. Use Texture to Add Interest

    Exotic Backyard Hardscapes

    A bit of elbow grease and the right selection of plants turned a blank slate into a two-person sitting area. Plantings provide a green backdrop for the space, which is enhanced by the range of textures and a smart mix of materials.

    Table and Hearth

  7. Capture a Little Zen

    Exotic Backyard Succulent Garden

    Clean lines and drought-tolerant plants pull together this Zen-style backyard garden. A simple fountain situated above the rock "pond" is highlighted with strategically placed lighting.

    Studio H Landscape Architecture 

  8. Compose a Natural Landscape

    Exotic Backyard Landscape

    This backyard gem blends recreational and landscaped areas into a cohesive relaxation space, complete with a sitting area, fireplace, and a pool that fits naturally into the flow of the landscaping.

    AZURO Concepts Inc. via Houzz

  9. Design a Luxurious, Relaxing Cabana

    Luxurious Backyard Seating

    In this dramatic patio transformation, repurposed furniture sits beneath a generous gazebo, creating a plush outdoor lounge that wouldn't seem out of place at an upscale hotel. Comfy pillows in a variety of colors add interest and contribute to the soft, soothing vibe.

    Centsational Style

  10. Off to Mykonos

    Blue Accents Exotic Backyard

    A few bright accents help create a Greek-inspired backyard getaway in this small outdoor space. The blue pillow, rug, and pot bring life to a previously bare patio and pair well with the texture and color of the home’s exterior.

    Centsational Style

  11. Lay Down a Colorful Rug

    Colorful Rug Exotic Backyard

    A vibrant rug ties this small patio together, transforming it from concrete jungle to relaxing oasis. A few carefully selected plants bring life and color to this comfortable nook that's just perfect for digging into your next read.

    A Beautiful Mess

  12. The Right Patio Furniture Makes All the Difference

    Exotic Backyard Furniture

    A few key pieces of summery, comfortable furniture turn a drab back patio into a Mediterranean retreat in this outdoor makeover. Complete the breezy effect with colorful flowers, pillows, and greenery. 

    Related: 8 DIY Pick-Me-Ups for a Plain Patio

    Four Generations One Roof

  13. Play with Plants

    Exotic Backyard Plants

    Don’t let a small patio limit your vision. In this makeover, a bit of DIY, a host of container plants, and a vertical garden turn a formerly barren space into a California-style back porch.

    Related: Growing Up: 10 Inventive DIY Vertical Gardens

    By Brittany Goldwyn

  14. Don't Miss!


    With a pinch of effort and almost no upkeep, you can have the lush, beautiful garden of your dreams. The secret is to choose plant varieties that enjoy a little hardship. We’ve compiled the essential list of hardy flora, with tips for care and maintenance. Go now!