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How To Make The Most Out Of A Small Backyard Space

29 Mar 2018

Having a small backyard isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While you may not have all of the room that you want to create your dream outdoor oasis, you can still maximize the space you have and create a cozy and intimate atmosphere. 

Stone path and steps leading to a wooden gate in a backyard.

‚ÄčTo help you visualize a backyard space that will provide the perfect setting for your family and friends to hang out and make memories, we’ve created the following list of things to keep in mind:

1. Plan Ahead

Before you begin making any changes to your backyard, it’s important to have a plan in place. And while it’s always a good idea to have a basic landscape design in mind before you start tearing up your yard, it’s even more important when working with a small space – as you cannot afford to lose functional space with a poorly placed tree or shrub.

Our advice is to draw out your plan and make sure it will be both visually pleasing and functional.   

2. Prioritize

An important part of your planning stage will be to figure out what your priorities are. Your dream backyard may include everything from a patio with a swimming pool to a koi pond. However, when working with a small space, it’s important to be realistic.

Start by making a list of your must-have features. Arrange this list so that your priority items are at the top. Depending on the size of your backyard, you’ll then be able to go down your list and check off which of these items you can incorporate in your design.

Tip: Look for areas where you may be able to compromise or get creative by selecting dual-purpose features. For example, if both a fire pit and a barbeque are at the top of your list, consider installing a fire pit that comes with a grill. This type of BBQ pit can function as both a gathering place and a cooking area, saving space and meeting your goals. 

3. Levels & Layers

By creating levels and layers in a small backyard, you’ll define spaces that can seem like multiple outdoor rooms. Our suggestion is to mix materials like decking, stonework, and even grass to give each space its own special feel.

The back of a house. There is an outdoor couch with a dog laying down on top of it.
(source: pinterest)

Landscaping in layers creates depth and the illusion of more space within your yard. If you plan to install planting beds around the border of your yard, plant the shortest plants in front, and the tallest plants against your fence.

4. Avoid Clutter

The more elements your yard has, the tighter it will feel. Instead, try to use built-in seating, incorporate clean lines, and choose miniature trees and shrubs. In other words, stay away from large, bulky furniture, and ensure that you have plenty of storage room.

You can be creative with your furniture choices. Choose chairs with slim backs, or create a DIY murphy table like this one that doubles as storage space:

The back of a brick house. There is a box garden and fold down table.
(source: shadesofblueinteriors.com)

5. Feature Focal Points

Every yard, small or large, needs a focal point to add visual interest and to bring the overall landscape design together. Some examples of great focal points include a fountain, an outdoor dining area, a beautiful tree, or a garden sculpture. The possibilities are endless!

If you choose your focal point early on, you can plan ahead and design the rest of your landscape around it for a cohesive look.

6. Use Vertical Space

We encourage Bradley homeowners to take advantage of the vertical space in their backyards. If you'd like to grow fruits and vegetables but simply don't have the ground space, consider using hanging baskets or vertical planting columns. Cherry tomatoes and strawberries grow exceptionally well in hanging baskets.

Check out this modern vertical garden that you can create yourself:

A vertical garden made from wood
(source: manmadediy.com)

7. Maximize Storage

When you have limited space in a small backyard, do your best to find pieces that can be multifunctional. You could create a seating area that doubles as storage bins, or install a murphy table like the one mentioned earlier! You can also incorporate ottomans or small tables with hidden storage areas underneath. This is an especially great option if you want to keep pillows, throws, or entertaining necessities on hand but need a spot to stash them.

Check out this DIY planter that has hidden storage space to store your hose:

A storage space disguised as a wooden planter 
(source: thatsmyletter.blogspot.com)