23 Ways to Improve Your Backyard

Outdoor Furniture

A backyard is a place for your family to commune and have fun together. It shouldn't be a part of your home that you avoid because it has nothing to offer. Nobody wants to spend the whole summer inside because their backyard is boring.

That's why I've put together 23 ways to fix it up. Some of these ideas are expensive, others are not. Even still, there are plenty of ways to spruce up your backyard, making it a future haven for all your family gatherings!

1. Build a Treehouse

A treehouse can be a creative way to add character. It's fun for kids AND adults. You can build them with intimate details, or you can keep them bare-bones. Either way, if you choose a solid tree and build it properly, a treehouse can last for decades!


Traditional Kids by Dc Metro General Contractors Bianco Design & Build Corp.

2. Build a Fire Pit

Who doesn't love a wienie roast? In my family, we get together several times a year to play volleyball, horseshoes, and croquet. Our backyard parties wouldn't be complete without our fire pit. We always roast hot dogs and make s'mores. You just can't beat snuggling up beside a warm fire. Adding a fire pit is a great way to add flare and community to your backyard.

Fire Pit

Eclectic Landscape by Holland Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Blue Ridge Landscaping

3. Add a Privacy Fence

Do you have pesky neighbors? Or maybe you live in a metropolis and lack privacy. Either way, a privacy fence is a perfect way to protect yourself from prying eyes. It's added security for your home as well.

Contemporary Landscape

4. Buy a Hot Tub

There are several benefits to owning a hot tub. They're great for relaxing after a stressful workday, and they're nice to have when throwing a party. Not to mention, they are wonderful to sink into when it's chilly outside.

Hot Tub

Modern Exterior by Ellicott City Architects & Designers Brennan + Company Architects

5. Plant a Container Garden

Container gardens are the best way to add color and life to your backyard without having to tear up the grass. They also offer a simplistic approach to gardening, giving you ultimate control over how many plants you want to tend. If you want to plant vegetables in containers, here's a list of the ones that work best. Herbs are great for containers too.

Modern Backyard

Rustic Porch by Port Townsend Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers

6. Add a Patio or Deck

A deck or patio is a must-have if you're going to spend a lot of time outside. It offers a dedicated space for entertaining guests and creates a place to put outdoor furniture. When choosing between the two, a deck will often cost more due to necessary routine maintenance, so if money is a factor, I recommend building a patio, which can be made from several types of materials.

Backyard Deck

Contemporary Deck by Tulsa Architects & Designers

7. Add a Fountain

Fountains can add several looks to your backyard, depending on how they are executed. The one pictured below evokes a feeling of zen. A sculpture fountain could portray a sense of elegance. The type of fountain you install will vary based on the type of backyard vibe you want.


Contemporary Landscape by Encinitas Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers

8. Build an Outdoor Kitchen

An outdoor kitchen is a huge investment. However, it's money well-spent if you love hosting outdoor gatherings with lots of friends and family. Just remember to take into consideration how much space you have and what will mesh best with your home.

Outdoor Kitchen

Traditional Patio by Charleston Interior Designers & Decorators Lorraine G. Vale, Allied ASID

9. Hang Some Outdoor Lights

Outdoor lighting doesn't have to look cheap and frilly. When done right, hanging some decorative outdoor lighting in your backyard can add a fun style.

Outdoor Accent Lighting

Traditional Patio by Joliet Lighting Outdoor Accents

10. Install a Pool

Installing a pool is not for everyone. If your backyard is small, adding a pool might not be the best way to improve the space. Pools are also high maintenance and expensive. That being said, owning a pool offers a great escape from the heat in the summer. Whether it is above or below ground, hopping in the pool is a great way to relax, get exercise, or entertain the kids.


Traditional Pool by Wheeling Pools & Spas Platinum Poolcare

11. Hang a Hammock

Simple, quick, and relaxing, a hammock is an awesome way to enjoy your backyard for cheap. Find a couple of trees and voila! If you don't have the right tree setup for a hammock, you can purchase one that has a base, so you can place it anywhere in your yard.

Backyard Hammock

Traditional Exterior by Norwich Architects & Designers Smith & Vansant Architects PC

12. Build a Playground

If you have children, a playground is a must in the backyard. It doesn't have to be huge. Even a little sandbox with a slide and swing will suffice. There's really no better way to get the kids out of your hair.

Playground for Kids

Traditional Kids by Portland Landscape Contractors Paradise Restored Landscaping & Exterior Design

13. Add a Storage Shed

A storage shed adds square feet to your home and gives a place to store holiday decorations, a lawnmower, and all your other outdoor items. It's perfect if you have a tinkerer in your home too. It's sometimes necessary for storage needs if you don't have a basement or attic.

Backyard Storage Shed

Traditional Garage And Shed by Cockeysville General Contractors Smithouse

14. Plant Trees or Shrubs

Shrubbery and trees add a certain grace and harmony to a yard when placed in the proper place. You don't want to plant too many, as you'll overwhelm the yard. To find the best trees to plant in your yard, check out the Tree Finder: Tree Wizard.

Beautiful Tree and Landscape

Traditional Landscape

15. Plant a Vegetable Garden

If a container garden isn't enough for you, why not go all out and plant a full vegetable garden? It's good for the body and mind. You'll reap tons of fresh veggies and spend a significant time in the yard tending the garden. If you have children, it's a great way to create memories and teach them about the environment. Just remember to research which veggies grow best in your area.

Vegetable Garden

Contemporary Landscape by Wheat Ridge Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Jocelyn H. Chilvers

16. Construct a Trellis

Building or purchasing a trellis to place alongside your home is a great way to break up the monotony of boring brick and siding. The options on what to plant around the trellis are wide open too! Climbing ivy, tomato vines, or indigo morning glories would all make beautiful additions.

Outdoor Trellis

Contemporary Outdoor Decor by Los Angeles Garden & Landscape Supplies TerraTrellis

17. Add Outdoor Furniture

If you plan on entertaining, a cohesive set of outdoor furniture is a must-have. A handsome patio furniture set can pull a space together and establish a sense of community. If new patio furniture isn't in your budget, consider the next tip instead. Patio Set

18. Revive Old Pieces of Furniture

If you don't want to pay the price for new outdoor furnishings, hit up the flea markets and yard sales to find the perfect thrifty pieces. This is a great option for do-it-yourself enthusiasts. There is something special about bringing together contrasting pieces to create a sense of unity.

Antique, Refinished Furniture

Rustic Deck by Flushing Interior Designers & Decorators Amy Jesaitis

19. Build Pathways

There's something delightful about following a path through the garden. Pathways can add structure to an otherwise unorganized yard. You can use stepping stones, bricks, gravel, concrete, or dirt to create different paths, depending on the theme of your yard. Dirt or stepping stones would work great if you enjoy a rustic style, while bricks give a look of grandeur.

Rock Garden

Traditional Landscape by Columbia Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Slater Associates Landscape Architects

20. Build a Rock Garden

From what I've learned, there are two types of rock gardens. At my home, we built a circular pit with rocks, filled it with soil, and planted flowers in it. The other type of rock garden, like the one featured below, is a garden of rocks with a few unique plants and shrubs dispersed throughout. Both are charming and add appeal to your home.

Outdoor Rock Garden

Tropical Landscape

21. Add a Swing

I often associate porch swings with John Anderson's country hit, "Swingin'." If you grew up in the country, you know what I'm talking about. Installing a swing on your deck or hanging one from the big oak tree out back can add a romantic touch to your yard and they're adaptable to almost any style. You can purchase cushions that complement the space or paint it any color you want.

Porch Swing

Rustic Porch by Greenville Architects & Designers Wright Design

22. Plant Flowers

Planting flowers is the most common and easiest way to add flavor to the yard. Hit up your local nursery for in-season plants, grab your gardening gloves and a spade, and get to work. You'll love the results. Adding red or black mulch can add a distinct effect, so that's another thing to consider when building a flower bed.

Flower Garden

Traditional Landscape by Edina General Contractors John Kraemer & Sons

23. Buy a Grill

Most people have already invested in a grill because it is seen as an essential piece of summer. If you haven't, now's the time. There are hundreds of great recipes made specifically for the outdoor grill. So get outside and get your grill on!

Outdoor Grills

Traditional Patio by Houston Design-Build Firms Allegro Builders

See! There are tons of ways to jazz up your yard! Do you have any other ideas? We'd love for you to share them with us!

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  1. bytheyard@gmail.com' By The Yard December 23, 2014
  2. bytheyard@gmail.com' By The Yard April 7, 2015

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