When you imagine your dream home, what does the outside look like? For most of us, the first thing that comes to mind is space: space to run, space to relax, space for the kids to play, and enough left over to entertain, install a pool, plant a garden, or enjoy any of our other outdoor interests. Those dreams are great, but when most of us wake up, it’s to a yard far smaller than our ideal. That’s why it’s so good to be reminded that small is beautiful, too, as this post from WooHome recently did for us. If you’re creative and clever, even the narrowest of outdoor spaces can feel like an oasis. So we decided to round up our favorite tips, ideas, and inspiration for ways to make small backyards have big personalities. Check out what we found and see which ones YOU should try today!
Stone Patio Pool
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Everybody’s dream backyard involves a pool, but few of us have enough room for both a pool and for just sitting and enjoying fresh air— unless we combine them! This stone version has three different depths to be a splash pool, a wading pool, and a full-depth pool . . .
Wood Deck Pool
. . . while this wood one gives you several different depths all at once.
HGTV Ultimate Outdoor Design Guide
Small backyards are often found in cities where it can be difficult to get healthy grass growing, and the lack of lush lawn makes the tiny space even sadder. Make it better by treating your yard more as another room, making an outdoor lounge using budget-friendly products.
If it works indoors, it’ll work outdoors, too! Multifunction pieces like tables with storage or adjustable seating lets you use your outdoor spaces however you like without having to fill them with accessories.
Of course we all want to grow things in our yards – it’s what they’re for, after all! – but the amount of space gardens take up can be overwhelming. Go UP instead with a vertical garden, and make your fence or privacy wall green and lush at the same time. Hint: mason jars will be a big help here.
Decor And The Dog via Country Living
Prefer more traditional planters? Make sure you’re still maximizing your ground space by arranging them in tiers!
Minimized Dirt And Other Mess
While we’re on the subject of plants, in general, planters are better for a small yard than ground-cover soil. You still get the green, but you don’t end up with mud or other debris that can quickly take over when there’s such little space. Even more generally, embrace minimalism to keep your yard feeling spacious!
If you’re going the more traditional planting route and growing things directly in the ground, be particular about the plants you choose. Lean more toward dwarf plants, conifers, and other plants and shrubs that are smaller and less prone to spreading out and taking over your yard.
Want to entertain but don’t have the space for a full outdoor bar? Make a Murphy bar! This DIY foldable bar is fun to build and to have, and the perfect size for mixing summertime cocktails.
Murphy Picnic Table
Don’t stop with the bar! A foldable Murphy-style picnic table gives you the option of huge outdoor suppers without having to commit to a permanent table taking up valuable space.
Faux Grass Rug
Liz Marie Blog via Country Living
Not enough green in your yard or space to grow it? Fake it! A faux grass rug will make your patio seem bigger, and add some life to brick or concrete.
The Brambleberry Cottage via Country Living
If hanging mirrors in small rooms makes them feel bigger, why wouldn’t we try it outside?! Hang some vintage or older mirrors to make the green grass and blue skies feel like they’re going on forever.
Tiny Garden Shed
A Cultivated Nest via Country Living
You don’t need acres of land or a huge garden to justify a gardening shed. A tiny one adds whimsy and decoration to your small yard, and keeps your gardening tools organized!
Home Decor Ideas
Another way to get that shed without sacrificing too much space? Turn it on an angle!
- Mini Water Feature
The Garden Glove via Country Living
Just like with that gardening shed, don’t let a lack of space kill your landscaping dreams of a water fountain. This water feature is the perfect size for a small space AND you can make it yourself for around just $30!
- Decorative Focal Points
So what’s the POINT of a water feature, you may ask? It creates a focal point! When people are noticing the conversation piece in your yard, they’re not noticing the lack of space. Even better, a focal point draws the eye and pushes the surround walls out of focus, helping to make a space FEEL bigger, too. Use a fountain, art, or a very large potted plant.
- Forced Perspective
Another thing a focal point can do? Create perspective! You might remember the concept from art class, but in general, we’re talking here about how parallel lines seem to converge in the distance at a vanishing point, and the basic fact that faraway objects look smaller. Use both concepts to your advantage to create the illusion of space, like with a pergola and some strategically-placed potted plants. This method’s a good excuse to let your maximalist gardening tendencies run wild!
Diagonal Paths and Planting
Another way to trick the eye is to plant and plan paths along a diagonal or a zigzag, which makes a space feel bigger than it is because you travel along a longer path. Want a prime example? Then check out . . .
Triangular Planting Pockets
Botanical Decorators via WooHome
. . . this design, which is all about triangles. Just because most small backyards are rectangles, you don’t have to keep it that way! Try turning everything 45 degrees, as the designers of this backyard did, to create “triangle planting pockets” for lush greenery and an interesting patio design.
Don’t want guests to notice how small your yard is? Make them look somewhere else by literally framing a view! Pergolas, arbors, and even swings are perfect for this task.
Apartment Therapy via Country Living
Planning a deck or a patio in a small space can be intimidating. What if it doesn’t turn out like you imagined? What if you overshoot and make it so big it swallows the yard? What if if doesn’t fit? Alleviate all those concerns and make building it a cinch with these deck tiles that snap together, don’t require any special tools, and can be reuseed and rearranged until you find the right shape and size for your small backyard.
Style At Home via WooHome
Tall walls and fences are a great way of creating privacy in a small yard, but they can also make us feel claustrophobic. Draw the eye and keep things streamlined by using monochrome accents, like this design in a Toronto home.
Mark Tessier via WooHome
Small backyards are most common in areas where houses are close together and property lines bleed together. Delineate your space and create some privacy without feeling closed in by putting up some tall, lovely partial walls that’ll actually make you feel like you have more space— and give you vertical areas to decorate!
You’ll have noticed by now that most of the ideas on this list involve yards that are meticulously planned. That’s for a reason! A yard feels more spacious when it’s organized instead of left to run wild. Counter-intuitive, but true!
Postage Stamp Design
Carson Arthur via WooHome
This “postage stamp” design not only makes the most of a small space by creating mini-areas surrounded by lush foliage, but creates a yard that can easily adapt as a family grows up and grows bigger.
Trulia via WooHome
A city backyard feels like an island oasis when you use different levels to create distinct areas and an interesting, dynamic landscape.
So many good ideas and things to consider! A lot of these tips would be helpful even to those lucky homeowners with large yards, too. For more information and even more tricks, check out the post on WooHome and these guides from Country Living, Houzz and HGTV. Do YOU have a small yard? How do you make yours work for your family?