If you love hosting friends and family, make room for a backyard dining area. Or encourage outdoor exercise by adding a bocce court, like this example from Kindred Vintage.
Consider how livable the yard is and your maintenance style, either hands-off or hands-on. A good landscaper will ensure that your yard is both beautiful and functional.
1. Outdoor Kitchen
A backyard kitchen is a game changer for anyone who loves to cook and entertain. It’s like adding another family room to your home, blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor space for a more unified feel.
A functional outdoor kitchen provides the same conveniences as an interior kitchen – cold areas (refrigeration), hot zones, and wet zones (sinks). A wood fired pizza oven and grill add variety for food lovers to enjoy, while plenty of storage makes it easy to keep cooking supplies close at hand.
Comfortable bar stools elevate this kitchen’s ambiance, while a waterfall countertop offers an eye-catching visual. To ensure that your backyard kitchen is usable after dark, include task lighting to illuminate your grill and prep spaces. You can also hardwire in pendant or sconce lighting to add a warm, welcoming ambiance that will be perfect for entertaining into the night.
Defining spaces like dining areas, lounging spots, and play areas in a backyard is a great way to add visual appeal and function. Even if your yard isn’t large, it’s possible to separate areas with walls or plantings.
A wood deck topped with a table and chairs is perfect for entertaining and relaxing. If you’re a fan of the rustic look, use reclaimed wood as your deck boards and edging for a natural touch. To add some color, use a bright paint shade like this Farrow & Ball exterior paint for the deck.
If you have a small backyard patio, layers of plants add texture and interest. This design by Studio ARNOLD Masonry and Landscape has an organic feel with a variety of plantings.
If you’re a gardener, dedicate a section of your backyard to growing flowers or vegetables for year-round color and flavor. Adding a water feature to your backyard design can turn it into a zen retreat. A wall of trickling water looks elegant in any backyard and also adds a soothing sound to your surroundings.
3. Fire Pit
Unless you live in an area with bylaws that prevent open fires, a fireplace or fire pit can add a touch of ambiance and comfort to your backyard. A firepit can also serve as a focal point, drawing guests toward the lounge area for marshmallow roasting and chatting.
When designing a backyard entertainment space, keep flow and function in mind by selecting a location that’s easy to get to from the kitchen or dining areas. Placing a fire pit too far from seating or an outdoor kitchen can cause congestion and hinder flow.
It’s also crucial to consider whether you’re planning a permanent or portable installation, as well as the fuel source (gas, wood, etc.). A portable pit provides the flexibility to move it around to different parts of the yard depending on the occasion. Don’t forget to empty out ashes regularly (after they’ve cooled), as the fertile soil is great for growing plants. It’s important to clear away any flammable materials near the fire pit, too, including long grass and debris that could ignite and spread rapidly during gusty weather.
4. Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor lighting serves two unique purposes: it provides safety and security around the house and yard and adds a welcoming glow to a backyard. When choosing a backyard lighting option, it’s important to consider how the fixture will fit with the overall landscape design. Choose lights that blend in instead of sticking out like a sore thumb.
Walk around your yard to pinpoint areas where you’d like to have light, such as a dining space, outdoor kitchen or shady lounging spot. Defining these spaces helps you make better use of your outdoor space and creates a functional home-outdoor flow.
Outdoor lights can illuminate walkways, stairways and driveways or highlight your front door for safety, and they can also highlight architectural details on the house, decks or porches. They can also help you showcase plants, trees or water features in your landscape. There are many options available, including low voltage and line voltage, so it’s essential to consult a professional for installation. They can help you choose the best fixture type and install it safely.
A backyard remodel isn’t complete without a garden. Plants add color and personality to any yard or garden. Emily recommends reducing the “square-box effect” of garden rows by mixing plants of varying heights and colors. Adding a foreground, middle-ground and background of different plants gives the backyard a casual and carefree feel. Also, don’t be afraid to branch out from your region’s typical plant varieties. If you have a sunny flower bed, fill it with long-living full sun perennials; if you have a shady area, try no-fuss shade annuals and perennials that thrive in the shade. Check with local nurseries and plant retailers for advice on what will thrive in your climate.