20 Genius Ways to Spiff up Your Backyard
Getting an enviable outdoor space is a whole lot easier—and cheaper—than you think.
If you're like most people, you're probably spending more time than ever at home these days. And with the weather getting warmer, that probably means more time spent in the backyard, too. However, if your outdoors space isn't exactly inviting or could use a more cohesive vision, you may not feel inclined to get out into nature on a regular basis. The good news? Getting a gorgeous backyard is easier than you might imagine. With the help of top designers, we've rounded up 20 easy backyard tips that will upgrade your space in no time. And for more ways to spruce up that outdoor space, check out The Single Best Tip for Getting a Perfect Lawn, According to a Landscaper.
Install a faux hedge.
No green thumb? No problem! An artificial hedge can completely transform your yard in no time.
"Install a vibrant green hedge to an existing chain-link fence, block wall or planter box," suggests Phoenix-based designer and Realtor James Judge. "This is the perfect solution when you want to hide something unsightly and can often be attached with zip ties or screws." And for more ways to make the most of your outdoor space, make sure to avoid these 15 Ways You're Destroying Your Lawn.
Add some raised beds.
The only thing better than the pop of color a garden adds to your yard? Having fresh fruits and veggies available to you year-round, of course!
"With the popularity of organic vegetables on the rise, backyard gardens are growing in popularity," says Gena Kirk, VP of Corporate Studio at KB Home, a Los Angeles-based home building firm, who says that raised planters in particular are a stylish addition to outdoor space.
Invest in new cushion covers.
Don't want to shell out cash for a whole new patio set? Revamp the area with new fabric instead.
"Instead of new cushions, consider purchasing new cushion covers to give them a new year of life [and] create areas of sanctuary or conversational areas with your furniture," suggests Kirk. And for more ways to redo your space, check out these 17 Genius and Affordable Ways to Remodel Your House.
Set out a basket of throws.
Want to make your yard a comfortable space for year-round gatherings?
"Include a basket of old throws so your outdoor space is appealing to use in the early mornings and evenings," suggests Kirk.
Add a deck.
Increase the value of your home and beat back the bugs in one fell swoop by adding a terrace or deck off your house.
"The terrace can help cut down on bugs from the ground, and in addition, plan for torches around the terrace that can burn citronella to keep the airborne bugs away," suggests interior designer Leslie Saul of architecture and design firm Leslie Saul & Associates.
Invest in some outdoor games.
You don't need to spend a huge amount of money to make your backyard a livelier space.
"Games really draw people outside," says Saul. "With a mat and net and Wiffle-type golf balls, even a small yard can be turned into a golf practice facility." And for more fun content delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Install new fencing.
Even if you're on a busy street, some six-foot fencing can turn your backyard into a private oasis in no time.
"New perimeter fencing can give an updated feel to your yard," says Saul. "Whether you are a modernist or a traditionalist, there are fence designs to suit your style."
Add a diverse mix of planters to your landscape.
Grass and gardens are nice enough, but potted plants in a wide variety of planter styles will instantly upgrade your backyard's aesthetic.
"Fill larger urns and some smaller ones, too, with a variety of plants based on color, texture, and dimension," suggests designer Lisa Melone Cloughen. Her recommendation? In addition to choosing bold color combinations, "Consider mixing taller plants with ivy and moss spilling over the sides," as well as easy-to-care-for plants, like succulents, for tablescapes. And for more ways to make your property pop, check out these 50 Clever Ways to Instantly Add Value to Your Home.
Add a bar cart.
What's a backyard party without a few libations?
"Let your booze be the life of the party with an outdoor bar cart equipped with storage trays and baskets and on wheels for you to move through the party and leave no glass unfilled," suggests Channa Alvarez, a production designer at Living Spaces.
Install an outdoor kitchen.
If you're feeling a bit more ambitious—and have a larger budget to work with—an outdoor kitchen can completely transform your yard in no time.
"An outdoor kitchen is the perfect addition to your backyard if you're looking for something that will enhance the way you entertain guests," says Mark Scott, president of MARK IV Builders, who recommends using stainless steel cabinets and appliances for both ease of use and aesthetic appeal.
Add a pergola.
Adding a pergola to your backyard can not only create some defined seating space, it can actually make your yard look larger. Unlike traditional canopies and gazebos, pergolas offer the intimate feel of an enclosed space, but their open top and sides mean you won't have to sacrifice the view.
Of course, there's an easy solution when you want the space to feel more intimate: "Add bamboo roller shades to hooks or inexpensive, gauzy drapes (fun and cheap to make from paint drop cloths!) hung on clip hooks and steel cable to create a dreamy, private space," says New York-based interior designer Denise Gianna.
Lay down an outdoor rug.
Whether you're trying to hide a patio that's looking a bit worse for wear or want to create a designated seating area, there's no easier way to do so than with an outdoor rug. Unlike traditional indoor rugs, outdoor rugs won't get waterlogged or bleed dye if they get wet, and their pop of bright color can instantly perk up an otherwise lackluster space.
As a rule: "For a dining area that seats four to six, you need at least 12 by 12 feet, for a grilling area, add another five feet, and for seating or a hangout space, calculate the size of your furniture grouping and add at least a three-foot margin all around," says Gianna.
Add some colorful mulch.
If you've tried time and time again to get grass to grow evenly across your yard to no avail, there's no need to give up hope. Instead, refresh patchier parts of your yard with raised planters and plants surrounded by colorful mulch. Not only will this cover your spotty greenery, it will add some refreshing pops of color throughout the space while keeping your yard relatively low maintenance.
"Above all, be sure to create an outdoor area that is not difficult or expensive to maintain," says Gianna. "You want to enjoy being in your outdoor space—not constantly worry about maintenance or upkeep!"
Install a gazebo.
If you're looking for more shady space in your yard but don't want to spend the time and money on a home renovation, a gazebo might just be the perfect investment.
"Gazebos are a classic option, and their unique hexagonal or octagonal shape provides visual interest and a more intimate gathering spot," say Brennan and Michaela Nicholson, owners of Scenic South Landscape & Design, LLC.
Add some boulders to your landscaping.
One easy way to make your yard look more vibrant? Break up the greenery with some natural stone elements.
"Add a mix of stone and boulders to add texture and definition to your outdoor space," suggest the Nicholsons. And for more amazing décor advice, don't miss these 30 Home Design Tricks That Will Make Any Room Look So Much Bigger.
Add some lighting to your plants and perimeters.
A dark backyard isn't exactly an inviting space. Luckily, you don't have to spend big to brighten it up.
"I recommend adding spotlights to the trees or plants [and] you could also add lights at the edges of the pathway," says Peter Miller, founder of GardeningStuffs.
Install a fountain.
Want to take your yard from blah to breathtaking? Installing a fountain will do just that.
"Water features are so often overlooked! Truly, nothing ties a backyard together, and makes it inviting than moving water," says landscaper Douglas Dedrick, founder of This American Lawn.
Or a pond.
If you're looking for a larger project to tackle, a pond can completely change the feel of your outdoor space—and often for less money than you'd expect. "A new pond liner and pump can cost as little as $300, if you are willing to do the work yourself," says Dedrick. And for more ways to design on a dime, check out these 27 Amazing Home Upgrades for Every Budget.
Add a swing.
Who says kids get to have all the fun? Adding a swing to a tree in your yard can help you channel your inner child in no time. "Many of us are drawn to try out a swing, especially one
hung from tree limbs on an incline," says designer Allen Tanksley. "The joy of flying high is thrilling to everyone."
Set out a playhouse.
If you do have kids in the family, give them somewhere fun to play by adding a playhouse to your space.
In addition to on-the-ground playhouses, "Treehouses are also a wonder for the slightly older children to escape to and cook up notions of far flung adventures," says Tanksley.