9 Steps to Make a Small Backyard Useful and Attractive

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  • September 2, 2018

Small backyards are a challenge, but not impossible to landscape. In fact with the following 9 steps, you can make the limited space in your backyard useful and attractive.

Step 1: Consider your needs

Every family has their own lifestyle and unique needs. Some families need an outdoor area to relax and enjoy the breeze or to entertain guests at a barbecue. Other families require space for their pets or a place for children to play. What are your specific needs?

Step 2:  Divide your backyard into zones that meet your needs

Next consider the shape, size and layout of your backyard and divide it into clearly defined zones. These zones should be designed specifically to accommodate your needs.

Even the smallest backyards can be successfully divided into 3 or 4 different zones. For those who love to entertain guests, the space could be divided into distinct cooking, dining, lounging and mingling zones. Other families might prefer a more intimate layout with a kids’ zone, garden nook and multifunctional deck.

Step 3: Add a focal point

The first two steps dealt with making your backyard useful. This one focuses on making it attractive. By adding a focal point, you can draw attention away from the size of your backyard and onto something beautiful.

A focal point is something that attracts interest. It can be a relaxing water feature, a sculpture or work of art with uplighting or even a decorative planter with a favorite plant.

Choosing a focal point is an opportunity to let your personality shine. Do you enjoy working with your hands? You could make a mosaic garden bench or a decorative flower rack for your focal point. If you collect a specific item, you could also use it to give your backyard a unique and personal focal point.

Step 4: Connect the zones with a favorite material or color

The secret to successfully dividing an open space into multiple zones is to make the different areas distinct, but also connect them through the use of a specific material or color.

It is often practical to connect the zones in backyards by using the same paving material in each of them. You can, however, create the same connection with wood, iron or stone accents or even choose a favorite color and add it to each of the zones.

Your backyard is actually an extension of your home. If you want to accentuate this, use the same colors and styles that you have chosen for inside your home to decorate your backyard.

Step 5: Incorporate contrasts

As you design and connect 2 or more zones in a small area, it is easy to begin making everything similar – colors complement each other, furniture matches, paving is identical. Keep in mind, though, that a tasteful contrast will add interest to the whole ambience.

You can incorporate contrasts by designing two of your zones as squares or rectangles and then making the third a circle. It is also possible to add the contrasts in the decor. Perhaps decorate all the zones in earthy tones and then use an outdoor rug or decorative garden stakes to add a splash of contrasting color.

Step 6: Respect the scale

As you landscape a small area, it is important to keep everything small and practical. Planting a large, bushy shrub or using massive hardwood furniture in the decor will make the area cramped and impractical to use.

As you choose furniture, consider investing in built-in benches, collapsable tables and chairs or lightweight deck chairs. Any plants you add to the zones should also be small to medium in size and preferably slow growing, so that they don’t overrun their space.

Step 7: Add height

Adding height to your small backyard can increase its usefulness and appeal, as well as make it look larger.

You can add height in simple ways, for instance installing raised flower beds along one edge of the landscape or decorating a corner with planted containers of ascending heights.

If you are willing to do a little more work, you can also add height by building a pergola over one of the zones or adding a horizontal trellis and training a vine to climb up it.

Step 8: Keep it clean

One of the benefits of a small backyard is that it requires less maintenance than a larger yard. As you landscape, you want to maintain that advantage as much as possible.

Choosing plants and grasses that don’t lose a lot of leaves, as well as planting in flower boxes and containers instead of in the ground, are both ways to keep your zones clean in the long run.

If you aren’t parcial to live plants, you can also consider incorporating artificial turf and plants into your landscape.

You can also keep your zones from becoming cluttered by choosing multifunctional furniture, for example benches that double as storage space and adjustable chairs that can be used for both lounging and dining.

Step 9: Ask for professional help

Yes, you can draw up a landscape for your own backyard, prepare the ground, install the different zones and then maintain them. We know from experience, though, that the final project will be better and you will have less work and headache through the process if you ask for professional help.

Landscaping professionals, such as our team at Normark Landscapes, have years of experience and training in landscaping. We routinely work with our customers to plan their landscapes down to the finest details, even taking into consideration where the most sun is going to hit and what type of night time illumination will be necessary.

We also have qualified tradesman ready to install every part of the hardscape, including decks, walkways and retaining walls, according to Australian building codes.  Once the hardscape features are in place, our gardeners will help you to install and then maintain all areas of grass and plants in the landscape.

Do you have a small backyard? Get in touch with us and allow us to help you through these steps to make it useful and attractive.