27 Ways to Create a Better Backyard

1. Plant Flowers, Shrubs, Cacti and Succulents

Beautiful backyard garden and retaining walls.

One of our greatest backyard gardening features is our massive plant, flower, cacti and shrub database with well over 1,000 entries and is totally searchable.

You can search via perennials, annuals, sun and water requirements, hardiness zones, soil pH and much, much more.

The database or garden directory includes a photo of each flower or plant and in most cases a tutorial video along with all the key information.

If you’re planning a garden, our garden directory/database is a must-visit feature.

2. Build a Deck

Large wooden deck surrounded by trees.

We have a spectacular deck designs photo gallery featuring hundreds of different deck designs.

Various features you can drill down your search for include size (small, medium, or large), flowers, railings, covered or uncovered, pergola, privacy screen and/or stairs.

If you’re looking for deck ideas, our deck gallery is a great resource.

3. Design and Construct a Patio

Gorgeous backyard patio

Sometimes it’s not easy choosing between a deck and patio and sometimes you don’t have a choice.

A patio is only a viable option if you can build it flush on the ground. If it needs elevating, you go with a deck.

Patios can more easily blend into the surrounding landscape of your hard. You can use materials that further blend or stick out to create more contrast. You have many options for patio materials such as brick, flagstone, cobblestone, tile and more as well as many colors, shapes, textures and design options.

Planning and designing a patio is a great task.

4. Put in a Swimming Pool

Modern backyard swimming pool with hot tub.

Without tooting my own horn, our swimming pools gallery is one of the best on the web. We showcase almost 1,000 swimming pool designs in all shapes, sizes, blues and features.

If you’re considering getting a pool built, our gallery is a must-see page because you will definitely get some great ideas.

Beautifully done landscapes can change the entire look of your home, but they come with their challenges; maintaining your lawn includes getting rid of pests such as ticks, mosquitoes, and even bedbugs.

It is advisable to call pest control services for termites, mosquitoes and bed bugs near Kernersville NC if you live around there or simply get one in your area.

5. Add an Outdoor Kitchen

Large outdoor kitchen on a deck at night.

For people who spend a lot time outside, an outdoor kitchen may well be the answer.

Yes, you can get a grill, but when it comes to outdoor kitchens, that’s just the beginning. In fact, I don’t think having a grill qualifies as an outdoor kitchen. You need more such as counters, a refrigerator… a dedicated prep and cooking space on your patio or deck.

While it’s still fairly novel, more and more people are building outdoor kitchens in their backyard. Our outdoor kitchen gallery showcases hundreds of designs.

6. Gain Privacy with a Beautiful Fence

Backyard fence

There are a lot of backyard fence styles and designs to choose from. It boggles the mind.

And it’s not some random mix of designs either. There are solid fence classifications such as dog ear, scallop, flat top, lattice top, picket, shadow box, rail, and spaced picket.

On top of that, there are fence materials, the two biggies being wood and vinyl.

Then there’s purpose which is security, privacy, pool, decorative, garden or perhaps a combination.

The point being, a fence is not just a fence. You need to carefully decide which fence is best for your backyard.

7. Build a Gazebo

Wood gazebo in the backyard

Not terribly popular, but can be a great addition on your deck, patio or in the yard.

Gazebos aren’t cheap, especially a quality cedar type, but if you enjoy eating outdoors, it can be a great way to get a covered outdoor dining space.

In fact, we had a gazebo growing up and used it all summer long. While not huge, it comfortably sat 5 of us for dinner. What was nice about it was the square table which makes for plenty of surface area for dining. Check out our huge gazebo article and gallery.

8. Use Retaining Walls as Garden Opportunities

Backyard with retaining wall.

If you have any kind of a slope in your yard, you may consider building a retaining wall in order to landscape it and get more use out of it.

Retaining walls are a great way to get more surface area for gardens, sitting areas or other uses in the yard. Typically they’re built for creating additional garden space.

We have 2 retaining wall articles. One is our retaining wall gallery and the other is our retaining wall materials article.

9. Stay Cool with an Awning

Awning covering a deck.

A covered deck or patio is really nice to have, especially an option that is retractable. That’s what an awning offers and it’s great, but can be expensive.

Sometimes you want the sun; other times shade. If your deck or patio is adjacent to your house structure, you can attach an awning. Actually, there are freestanding awning options too.

And that’s the point of our extensive backyard awning article… it explains the key five types of awnings.

10. Get Some Chickens

Picture of a backyard chicken coop

Homesteading, self-sufficiency, vegetable gardening, canning… are all activities on the rise, even in suburban and urban areas.

Included in this pursuit of being more environmentally friendly, budget-conscious or simply for the challenge, is including a chicken coop for eggs.

Our friends had a chicken coop for years. They enjoyed fresh eggs daily and even made a few bucks selling them. While a bit of work, if you enjoy your yard and the thrill of providing your own food, a chicken coop is an inexpensive option.

11. Put in a Backyard Pond

Small DIY backyard pond photo

While we don’t have a natural backyard pond, I’d love to design and build one. I love water features.

A small or large pond can enhance any yard, but it’s important to do it right so the water doesn’t get stagnant and that it doesn’t look DIY. For instance, you need to really put in an effort so that it looks natural in the backyard. You don’t want tarp or other materials showing.

But, when done well, it’s a great feature for any yard.

12. Landscape it Beautifully

Photo of nice backyard landscaping

Sometimes when planning out your yard you simply want to look at a wide variety of photos and designs to see if anything strikes a nerve.

13. Create Walkways

Front yard walkway to front of the home.

Walkways are a relatively inexpensive backyard (and front yard) feature many homes can add. They make for a great feature that you can plant gardens around and are also functional in providing clear paths to various parts of the yard.

There are many materials one can use for a walkway. Some materials are easier to use than others if you are going the DIY route. For instance, most people could create a good gravel walkway; however, brick requires far more craftsmanship. Our main walkways gallery features all types of walkways including gravel, paver, flagstone, brick, wood, stone and combinations of materials.

14. Add Light with Outdoor Lighting

Home nicely lit up at night.

When it comes to outdoor lighting, you have as many options as indoor lighting (which is a lot).

We put together a massive series focusing on all your outdoor lighting options, including a succinct list of outdoor light options plus buying guides for specific types of outdoor lighting. Click the link above to check out our massive series on outdoor lighting.

15. Make Your House Exterior Prettier

Contemporary house with blue exterior

Need inspiration for home exterior?

Check out our massive searchable home exterior photo gallery.

Big, small, many colors, all styles – get many ideas.

16. Get Inspired with Aerial View Photos of Fabulous Houses

I love checking out aerial shots of beautiful homes.

Hence, I published a great gallery of houses viewed from above.

These spectacular houses look even better from the air – you can see the yards, grounds and the home.

17. Put in a Pergola

Pergola on the beach

Do you like the idea of a pergola on your deck to provide some relief from the sun without totally obstructing it?

Pergolas are popular deck and patio structures for good reason. They provide some shade while not totally obscuring the sun.

18. Build a Shed that Looks Great and Gets Rid of Clutter

Nice shed in landscaped backyard

Building a new shed?

Or, perhaps looking to buy a new shed?

Getting a garden shed will let you free up space in your house and garden and store everything neatly and safely out of the way in your new garden building. Tools, Christmas decorations, and the kids’ old toys that you don’t feel like throwing away will all have a new home!

So, whether you’re building or buying a shed, you need to check out our epic shed guide which sets out, illustrates and describes the 42 different types of sheds via features, style, roof, materials, foundation and purpose.

19. Get or Build a Playhouse for Kids

Incredible playhouse structure that is two playhouses connected by bridge and includes a slide.

When I was a kid I had a terrific playhouse build by my dad.

Last summer my son and I built a bunker playhouse, which while a bit rough around the edges, is pretty cool being partially underground.

20. Go Up with a Treehouse

Professionally built treehouse with front deck and gabled roof in large multi-branched tree next to a barn.

Of all backyard structures, tree houses are my favorite… but for younger kids, playgrounds are best.

I hope to build my son a tree house one day high up in a tree. For now he has a custom built bunker (which is also cool).

21. Have Fun with a Playground

Beautifully manicured backyard with large two story playhouse with yellow slide and two swings.

If you have young kids, a backyard playground or set is an ideal addition.

These days your options are amazing, whether you build it yourself or buy the entire set.

22. Front Yard Ideas

Modern home with beautiful front yard landscaping

23. Get a hot tub in the backyard

Hot tub in pergola deck structure in the backyard

You can hardly go wrong adding a hot tub to your backyard. What you really want to do is make the space around the hot tub beautiful and relaxing.

24. Create a Garden

Flower garden with bicycle planter

One of the most popular backyard ideas is to create a garden or series of gardens. The good news is that there are types of gardens you can plan and grow.

25. Put in a Zen Garden

Gorgeous Zen rock garden

It’s not as hard as you think to create a Zen garden. You just need some sand and some space. I’d pepper it with large boulders and gardens around the perimeter, but there’s definitely a stark beauty to these types of gardens.

26. Enjoy a Fire Pit

Fire pit on patio in the backyard

Fire pits are all the rage these days. There are many types, designs, sizes, shapes and fuel options to choose from. You can built one yourself or buy a cool propane style. The sky is the limit.

27. Furnish your yard

Backyard patio furniture

Outdoor furniture has come a long way in recent years. Now you can buy for the backyard what you can buy for the living and dining room. Every conceivable type of seating, tables and more.

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