Small backyards are often undervalued. They seem too small to use for anything important and gradually become a rundown place to exercise dogs or store surplus stuff.
We have encountered many backyards like this in our years of landscaping. If your backyard is in bad shape, we want to tell you that it can be transformed into an outdoor oasis – a place to entertain, relax and LIVE.
Here are some ways that you can modify your small backyard into a useful, attractive and inviting extension of your home.
Enclose it for privacy
For generations, backyards were left open to the sun, wind and neighbours. Now we realise that enclosing a backyard increases its usability and appeal, because it is partially protected from the elements and safe from prying eyes.
Your backyard can be enclosed in a variety of ways, such as with:
- A lattice fence covered with a climbing vine.
- Stone walls made from wall blocks, concrete pavers or even natural stones.
- Brick walls which can be traditional red or more modern colours, including shades of cream, yellow, gray, brown and more.
- Wooden fences that can be solid or slatted and come in a variety of styles.
- PVC fences that look very similar to wooden fences, but have the benefit of never rotting or needing repainted.
Implement a colour scheme
We naturally spend more time in areas that we like and having a personalized colour scheme can make your backyard more likeable to you, your family and friends.
Deciding on a colour scheme can be as simple as choosing a few colours that you like or you can use these designer tips and put a little more thought into your colour choices:
Connect inside and outside
Select your favorite colour from the decor inside your home and match it with a completely new colour. This combination of familiar and new will help your backyard feel like home and at the same time be refreshingly different.
Study the colour wheel
Base your colour scheme on colours that are located next to each other on the colour wheel, for example blue, green and yellow. These colours will naturally complement each other, as well as encourage a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
Go with the rule of three
Most designers agree that you can’t go wrong if you use three colours in your decor. Make the first of these three colours a dark colour, the second one basic and the third colour eye-catching.
Create a view you enjoy
Your backyard may be private and have an impressive colour scheme, but it won’t be truly attractive without an enjoyable view.
Designing a personalised view in your backyard involves adding layers. These layers should include different materials and also different heights.
Using a variety of materials, such as wood, clay, stone, and metal, adds texture and interest to your backyard oasis. Here are a few ways that you can combine these different elements:
- Install an attractive wooden fence, lay stone pavement and top your decor off with a cast iron garden bench or a set of patio furniture that has metal highlights.
- Enclose your backyard with stone walls, include a clay pot fountain or decorative clay planters in the decor and use wooden outdoor furniture.
- Build a wooden pergola over part of your backyard, lay a brick pavement and use decorative metal privacy screens to highlight a dining or entertainment area.
The view in your backyard also needs to include tall, eye-level and ground-level elements to add depth and make it feel a little larger than it really is. Here are some suggestions of plants and items that you can use to add these different heights to your backyard:
Trees, tall shrubs, bamboo, vines, trellises, a feature wall, a pergola, tall outdoor lights and even hanging bird feeders
Any mid-level plant or ornamental grass, stair-step flower boxes, a water fountain, a stone bench or sitting wall, and large ceramic planters
Small ceramic planters, outdoor rugs, ground-level flower beds, stone edging around flower beds or along a path, as well as small garden decorations and outdoor lights
Soften the transition
Usually we have an abrupt transition between inside our homes and the backyard. You can make your backyard more useful and inviting by softening this transition.
Here are 5 ways that you can create a gentle transition zone:
Consider installing large folding windows or double glass doors in the rooms of your house that connect with the backyard. Having a clear view of your outdoor oasis from inside the house and vice-versa goes a long way to connecting your indoor and outdoor areas.
Lay a transitional path
The fact that one moment we are standing on indoor flooring and two steps later we are standing on grass is one thing that makes the transition between indoors and outdoors abrupt. You can soften this aspect by laying a path that blends hard flooring and outdoor materials. This path could be stepping stones surrounded by grass or a wooden walkway with a stone border.
Bring the outdoors inside
Almost every backyard has refreshing, relaxing greenery. You can create a link between your backyard and inside your home by cultivating indoor plants, especially in the rooms that lead to the backyard.
Extend the ceiling and flooring
Adding on a porch or deck to the back of your house and covering it with a slatted pergola roof can ease the transition between the enclosed atmosphere inside your home and the wide open outdoors.
Create an indoor-outdoor area
Adding an indoor-outdoor area, such as a porch enclosed with folding glass walls, to the back of your house will not only soften the transition to your backyard, but will also allow you to enjoy your backyard all through the year.
Converting your backyard into an outdoor oasis takes detailed planning, work and a moderate investment, but all your efforts will be amply repaid with hours of relaxation and enjoyment for many years.