How To Come Up With a Backyard Landscape Idea

By Tom Hoff
Lead landscape designer of Modern Landscape

So... you're finally ready to landscape that backyard, but there's a problem! You don't know where to start?

Do you need a good backyard landscape idea?

Well, you've come to the right place.

First you need to ask yourself, "What will my backyard be used for?"

A backyard can have many functions, it can be made to entertain guest, it can be a yard that is children friendly, maybe you have pets and need room for them to run and play, or you just might want a quite and peaceful place to relax.

There is a new revolution taking place in American's backyards. We are retreating to the backyard after long work weeks and relaxing on our decks, porches and patios. We're fleeing the comfort of air-conditioned interiors to cook, dine, and entertain outdoors.

We're escaping to our backyard playgrounds, courts, and pools for hours of family fun and games.

This shift toward outdoor living is changing the way we design backyards. Large areas of green grass are surrendering to smaller patches of more easily managed lawn. Folding chairs on concrete surfaces are being deserted for cushioned sofas on flagstone patios and redwood decks, often next to a cozy fireplace, outdoor kitchen or a soothing water feature.

Our concept of backyard activities is expanding as well. Swings may never lose their attraction to children, but they are just one element to a backyard playground that includes slides, forts, bridges and climbing structures. Swimming pools have even evolved from just a simple hole in the ground to naturalistic pools with boulders, beaches and waterfalls.

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We all have the desire to spend more time at home with our family and friends, so we need to make the most out of the space we have both indoors and out. While fresh air compels us to head outside, technology has also played a key role in our ability to spend more time outdoors. Advances in outdoor lighting make backyards more accessible and inviting after dark.

New types of patio heaters and fireplaces comfortably extend the outdoor season. Designs for outdoor kitchens transform backyard barbecues into gourmet feasts. The development of durable, weather resistant materials for furniture and fabrics continues to enhance the style and comfort of outdoor furnishings.

To create personal, private backyard domains, evolve each member of the household in the planning process. Everyone will have different opinions and needs, but there's room in every backyard to include a special space or backyard landscape idea for all.

And don't forget that pets need their outdoor spaces, too.

Start by creating a wish list.

Chances are, there will be more on the list than can be accomplished, but priorities will emerge as plans develop, and the backyard will fall into shape.

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