25 Ways To Make A Small Backyard Look Larger
Tiny homes are still all the rage. To save money and lead a simpler lifestyle, people have learned how to comfortably live with 300 square feet or less. Small garages don't have to be a pain in your side either! This New Jersey homeowner shares their journey making the most of their small space!
How? They know tips and tricks to visually open up the space so it feels less cramped.
As it turns out, some of these tips can apply to the backyard, too. If your backyard is less than sizeable, take a look at these 25 tricks for making a small outdoor space look bigger.
Know the size of your backyard before you begin remodeling so you don’t accidentally buy furniture or plants that just won’t fit. You can also plan more efficiently when you know how much space you’re dealing with.
As Valerie at Greenhaven Landscapes in Washington reminds homeowners: “Instead of designing in square feet, design in square inches, paying close attention to detail. When you have limited space, only a few square inches can make a considerable difference in what you can or cannot include in your landscape.”
If you’ve literally run out of backyard space, create more by going vertical. Jennifer Noonan at BobVila.com suggests growing flowers and plants skyward to create a memorable green oasis that makes those walls feel a little less constricting. Organizing your garage efficiently can be done with similar principles using garage wall storage!
Choose Trees Carefully
Trees are one of the biggest, bulkiest additions to any backyard. For a perfect fit, make sure to research different types of trees before planting or buying. Realty Today suggests dwarf shrubs and columnar evergreens, which will complement vertical vines, plants and flowers.
Go Horizontal, Too
“By planting your garden beds in long lines, you draw the eye into the distance, creating the feel of space,” says Jim at Aussie Green Thumb. “The lines should meet at the furthest point at some sort of garden feature, be that a gazebo, a raised entertaining area or a water feature.”
Make That Garden Feature the Centerpiece
If you’re following Jim’s advice above, make sure to position the garden feature prominently, Rexy Legaspi at The Plan Collection says. These create “an eye-catching diversion from the small yard.” Legaspi suggests a rock garden or a fountain in addition to the ideas above.
Opt for Diagonal Fencing
Few things can make a backyard feel more closed-in than a fence. But you can have your privacy and make your backyard look bigger with one easy trick: diagonal fences.
“Straight fence lines tend to define a space, so if your yard is small then it really looks small. Diagonals, on the other hand, give the illusion of space,” says All Things Glass in Australia. They suggest “laying pavers or decking timbers in a diagonal pattern away from the house rather than horizontal or vertical to the house.”
Try Trellises as an Alternative to Fences
“Trellises give you the advantage of perception,” says designer Stacy Paulson. “They conceal the view but let light and breezes pass through, but they’re less oppressive than an actual fence.” These are also useful for hiding any parts of the backyard that still need work.
Transparent Curtains Also Let the Light In
Don’t want a trellis? Ace Elliott at Apartments.com vouches for transparent curtains. These must have “some transparency so the space doesn’t look closed off and light can still come through.” However, they don’t have to be totally see-through if privacy is an issue.
Divvying up space for backyard activities doesn’t constrict the area; it actually does the opposite. Australian home goods company Armstone suggests creating “three rooms — a dining area, relaxing area, and the garden area — with pathways connecting the spaces together. Consider varying the patio or path material from one ‘room’ to the next.”
Go Tall with a Raised Deck
Yes, you can still squeeze in a deck even with a small backyard. Salter Spiral Stair in Pennsylvania recommends a raised deck, which is taller and thus doesn’t take up valuable backyard space. “By connecting your deck … to the rest of your outdoor space, you’re creating efficiency and a flow of traffic that is ideal for outdoor entertaining,” Salter says.
It’s a Snap with Deck Tiles
Is your backyard too small for even a raised deck? No problem. Snapping deck tiles connect together with ease and can liven up any space, including a backyard. These are great for creating separate spaces, as mentioned above. Trent Johnson at Apartment Therapy has a helpful tutorial to get homeowners started.
Light It Up
Want a bigger backyard without the effort? Get those lights out. “You could have a mix of sconces, landscaping lighting as well as overall ambient lighting,” says Shailesh Rauthan at Helpmebuild. “There is nothing quite like a well-lit backyard that makes it ever so inviting.”
Think Outside the Box
Just because space is limited in your backyard doesn’t mean you have to forget about gardening altogether. Just be smart with the space you use, suggests Christopher Dostal at Home Growup. Egg cartons, wall planters and other small containers are ideal vessels to grow plants, flowers and herbs.
Hanging Baskets Are Your Friend
Not only do hanging baskets add a certain charm to the backyard, but they’re also very practical for smaller spaces, says Tanya Roberts at BuildDirect Blog. Roberts says these can be hung throughout the year, but make sure to plant evergreen shrubs and conifers in the colder months.
Take the Plunge
Want to beat the heat with a swimming pool? No matter the size of your backyard, you can still take a dip, as long as it’s in a plunge pool. Home Concepter has a great post on these small but deep pools:
“Plunge pools don’t need too much space as they require very little square footage in order to be constructed properly. The main focus is the depth, unlike the classic rectangle and circular or semicircular shaped pools, in which more importance is given to width and length.”
Keep the Yard in Tip-Top Shape
Tall, overgrown grass can really be a space hog. Mow it, but don’t stop there. Erin Emanuel at Strategies Online suggests sodding and mulching. “The best time to lay new sod is typically in the spring and autumn when it is cooler and you have a better chance at getting moisture,” she writes.
“Mulch can also completely transform the landscape around your grass or walkway, especially if you don’t have much to work with. Creating a pattern with mulch will help you break up the space and give the yard more variety.”
Don’t Overdo the Decor
The more elements in the backyard, the harder it is to concentrate on any one of those elements. Real estate agent Pam Boyle reminds homeowners to avoid getting too overzealous when decorating. “Otherwise there will be overgrowth, and maintenance will be difficult,” she advises. “Instead, you should keep the landscape design simple. Focus on the essentials of the backyard.”
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Bring a mirror outside. Balcony Garden Web recommends hanging it “on the back wall over its entire height.” Do watch out for birds, though, who may be confused by the mirror.
Consider Your Colors
Want more space automatically? Reassess the color scheme of outdoor decor, says the team at Lewis Drug. “Using different shades of the same color can make an area feel larger and more unified,” they say. “Light colors like white, pastels and citrus shades can also lend an airier feel.”
Get on This Level
Steps, stairs and platforms can all make the backyard look more spacious. “Adding levels to the yard creates depth by interrupting an otherwise small space,” says Katie Dillon at Install-It-Direct. Want more ideas? Dillion recommends trying “a slightly elevated or sunken patio or even perhaps a large, raised planter or container garden.”
Avoid Bulky Outdoor Furniture
You can still have outdoor furniture even if your backyard is far from huge, but be prepared to move away from big couches and chairs, says Amare Interiors.
“Outdoor furniture pieces with thin frames and lean bodies can make even a small patio or porch look more spacious,” the designers say. “Draw inspiration from French bistros, where a lot of people have to sit in a small space.”
Add a Touch of the Tropical
While most of your plants should be contained to small baskets, feel free to add a few tropical flowers and other greenery, says Jasmine Jaensch at Australian Outdoor Living. “Tropical plants have big leaves that add visual interest to your garden and can even create an illusion of depth,” she writes.
Go the DIY Route for Storage
With a small backyard, it’s crucial to shrink storage, too. The HomeTone blog recommends taking a DIY approach to get creative with limited space. “Rather than building a storage shed and blocking out space in the already tiny backyard, consider creating a small storage cabinet under the patio or staircase to store essentials like firewood and gardening tools,” the HomeTone team says.
Unite the Backyard and the House
If possible, connecting the backyard to the house is a great way to expand the size of the former, says Top Yard Design: “The target of the merge usually is the floor tiles or the design of the furniture. Of course, in order to achieve this, the entrance of the backyard needs to be through the house and you should preferably have a big door.”
Make Your Own Garden Wall
Out of wall space? Just make more! Kate Thorn at Brit + Co says a homeowner can “build an arbor or use one you already have to make an adorable wall of hanging pots for herbs and flowers.”