Lawn & Garden Outdoor Living

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.

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Live Graciously in a Small Space

The DIY Playbook

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.

Add Curtains to a Pergola

A Beautiful Mess

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.

Oh, the Wonders of Tropical Plants

A Beautiful Mess

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

Carve Out a Tropical Corner

Jen Woodhouse

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

Bring the Beach to the Backyard

Sweeten Stories

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.

Use Texture to Add Interest

Table and Hearth

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.

Capture a Little Zen

Studio H Landscape Architecture 

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.

Compose a Natural Landscape

AZURO Concepts Inc. via Houzz

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.

Design a Luxurious, Relaxing Cabana

Centsational Style

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.

Off to Mykonos

Centsational Style

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.

Lay Down a Colorful Rug

A Beautiful Mess

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.

The Right Patio Furniture Makes All the Difference

Four Generations One Roof

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

Play with Plants

By Brittany Goldwyn

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