BACKYARD IDEAS; Important things to consider when planning your backyard landscaping

Planning is Key!

Taking the time to plan your backyard landscaping will pay back in a big way as you enjoy the fruits of your efforts.

Read these Backyard Ideas to get some thoughts for your new yard, there are many things to consider, many more possibly than any other area, and the ideas I present will help you plan this space.


Backyards are centers of family activity and are places for relaxing & entertaining. Placing elements to moderate sun & wind are also considerations of planning your yard.

Make sure when taking your assessment of the yard to look at views you want to block or ones you want to bring attention to. Privacy is an important consideration as well, views coming into your yard can be blocked by trees, shrubs or structures

Different Themes and Family Needs

You might want to have a theme for your backyard, such as Tropical, Desert, Contemporary or European. You can still have the same elements in your yard, but the design for the structures and overall look and feel would be influenced by the theme.

Your backyard considerations should include;

  • Moderating sun & shade
  • Will you install an overhead shade structure or use umbrellas?
  • Does the idea of canvas stretched in metal frames sound like the perfect contemporary element you've been looking for?

First, you need to consider how you will use your backyard;

  • Do you need recreation areas?
  • Will you be entertaining?
  • Do you want areas to enjoy gardening?

These are all ideas to consider when planning your backyard.

Swimming Pools, Deck & Patios

If a swimming pool is in your plans, either now or in the future, then planning now will be crucial to make sure you consider where the electrical lines, piping, drains and other underground utilities will go so you will not be digging up everything when you are ready for construction.

Local codes will need to be observed when designing your pool and its location and setbacks need to be followed. Also location of the pool & equipment will be dictated by codes in many locales.

If you are considering installing a swimming pool, be sure to check out our Inground Swimming Pool Designs page, it has extensive information you will want to consider when installing a pool.

I also have a few swimming pool plans you can download as well. Each one is a different theme and feel to it. You may get lost in this one! There are links to all of our Garden Design pages at the bottom of this page as well as the navigation bar at the top of the page.

Decks & patios are also major hardscape elements that will take a lot of thought when planning.

Considerations will be;

  • How large?
  • How tall?
  • Material choices; wood, metal, concrete, brick/pavers or natural materials.
  • Your budget ,will have a lot to do with your material choice and design, more complicated designs will use more material, more time to build and so will cost more.
  • Location of the deck or patio is a major consideration as well, and the design possibilities are endless

Check out our Patio Design page for a design for a wraparound patio with a BBQ island, outdoor dining room, two overhead shade structures, a beer bar and a water feature wall.

You can download the plan or just get some ideas of your own from it! There are many options for customizing this plan to make it your own and make all or just a portion fit your own lot.

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Outdoor Rooms

The term 'Outdoor Room' has been around for a long time, but has recently become more popular. It is a concept of design for an outdoor space that can be used as an extension of the house.

It includes walls, floor, and ceilings. The difference is these elements are made of natural materials like plants, structures or other natural materials.

Walls can consist of shrubs, wood or concrete. Ceilings could be made of a pergola, covers or trees and the floors of grass, concrete ground covers or mulch.

Inside the room are placed usually a table and chairs, benches, lounges and tables to create a space that truly serves as an extension of the house.

We have created an Outdoor Living Room Plan that I think you will like. Its in a small backyard, but packs a lot of detail and ends up being a very intimate area that encourages conversation, long, meaningful evenings with friends and curling up with a good book. Take a look and see what you think.

While you're in the mood for Outdoor Room plans, also check out our Backyard Garden Design. It is a small backyard that packs a lot in its small footprint.

I think you will enjoy both of these designs, they are totally different, yet both personify the Outdoor Room concept.

Selecting Plants - Color & Texture

  • Trees: Trees are a very important element and careful planning is important. Trees can get very large and overpower an area or can be very messy and turn an area into a maintenance nightmare.
  • Choosing the right tree for the right place can be a crucial decision. Besides size, leaf texture and color is something else that needs consideration as well.
  • Shrubs: These will serve as the framework for the rest of the garden. Shrubs are the workhorse as they can serve a variety of purposes.
  • Again, they can become very large and overpowering or can make the difference between a yard that you can enjoy or one that has to be worked constantly to keep it looking nice.
  • Shrubs can be used as a tall wall that is meant to keep something out of view, or can be a short hedge used to control and direct traffic. They can serve as a source of beautiful color for most of the year and as such be a focal point of the yard.
  • Ground Covers, Lawns & Vines: These are the finishing touches of the landscape. the choices are endless and again, planning is very important. These elements of the landscape are the "frosting on the cake".
  • The variety and placement of these elements can make the difference between a ho-hum yard and one that looks like it was professionally designed.
  • Flowers: Whether annuals, perennials or bulbs, flowers bring color to your yard and add a bright accent to strategically located areas.
  • If you do not have a lot of time, perennials bring color at a minimum of upkeep for long periods of bloom. Annuals and bulbs take a little more time and effort but the reward is great.

Structures in the Backyard

After considering the other hardscape elements of the yard, the structures play a very important part in the overall look and feel of the backyard. Comfort and needs dictate what structures are used and the size and location.

Structures can be patio covers, walkways, walls & fences and water features. All are elements that can provide shade and cool areas in summer, provide a way to direct traffic, contain areas and provide privacy, and create an atmosphere that invites you to spend time there and enjoy the company of others.

There are many choices of design and materials to use for construction. Again think about the mood and theme you are trying to achieve.

Consider the cost when choosing your materials and design. If your budget does not allow for construction of the structures right now, planning for the future will let you to put elements in place right now that will make it easier to build the structures when your budget allows.

Evaluate Your Family's Needs

Lastly, I'd like to talk to you about your family's needs and how you will want to use your garden space for these activities.

So I'll ask you a series of questions now, if you answer any of them with 'yes', write them down for future reference.

1. Do you like to garden?

2. Do you need space for a tot-lot?

3. Do you need recreation areas?

4. Would you like a Pool? Spa? BBQ?

5. Would you like to grow your own vegetables or fruit?

6. Do you want a large flower border?

7. Do you want an area for entertaining?

8. Do you want a nature garden, welcoming birds & wildlife?

9. Do you have views to be hidden or shown?

10. Do you need privacy?

11. Do you need more light or shade?

Now, take the items that you answered yes to and build your site concept around these wishes for your garden.

Planning now can pay off big dividends in the long run when you have installed your new landscape. The homework you do will help shape and mold your new backyard and lessen the chance that you will have regrets.

Go ahead and take a look at some of my concepts for the different backyard ideas and try to picture them in your own backyard. so sit back and enjoy the most important part of your new yard, the planning!

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