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10 Simple Backyard Landscaping Ideas to Transform Your Outdoor Space

By Sarah Finazzo August 28, 2023

simple backyard ideas

Are you looking for your next weekend project? Maybe you aren't ready for an entire backyard overhaul, but looking for some easy ways to improve the way you use your yard or the way it looks. Whether you have a small backyard or a sprawling backyard landscape, there are plenty of ways to make the most of your outdoor space. From adding some stylish furniture and lighting to planting a few new trees or flowers, we'll show you how to create a backyard that you'll love spending time in. So, grab a cup of coffee and get ready to be inspired by these simple yet effective backyard updates that can pack a big punch!

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#1 // Create an Outdoor Living Room

One simple way to update your backyard space is to create an outdoor living room. We love extending indoor outdoor living. Adding comfortable seating, a rug, and some accent pillows, will transform your patio or deck into a cozy and inviting space that's perfect for entertaining or relaxing.

An outdoor entertaining space is a great investment in terms of improving the way you will use your outdoor space, but it's also an attractive investment if you are considering selling at some point in the near future.

Be sure to incorporate you new living space into your landscape design and make sure it makes sense with the rest of your yard. You'll want to make sure it's easily accessible to the house and has an easy exit and entrance to feel inviting and make the best use of your space.

backyard design ideas, outdoor living room on a stone patio with backyard landscaping
Tilly Landscaping Idea, Outdoor Room

#2 // Add Flower Beds

Another simple way to update your backyard space is by adding flower beds. Add your favorite colorful flowers to your outdoor space or customize your garden to match your personal style and design. Whether you prefer a wildflower meadow or a perfectly manicured garden, there are endless possibilities when it comes to creating flower beds.

You can also lean into your hobbies and interests. Perhaps your family would enjoy a pollinator garden that attracts butterflies - or you'd love to attract bees or hummingbirds in your backyard design. When designed correctly with native plants they can also attract bees and other pollinators, helping to support the local ecosystem.

simple backyard landscaping ideas, planting flowers around a fire pit

#3 // Focus on Your Seating Areas

If you're looking to spend more time outdoors a great place to start is updating your seating areas. Keeping guests comfortable will help everyone have a good backyard experience and extend the length of a party. Whether it's investing in Adirondack chairs for around the outdoor fireplace or a lounger sofa to enjoy conversations - there are seating area options for every style and budget.

Upgrading your seating can be as simple as adding new cushions to your existing furniture or investing in new chairs and tables that fit your design aesthetic. With the right seating, you can create a cozy and inviting atmosphere that's perfect for entertaining guests or relaxing after a long day. Moreover, comfortable seating encourages you to spend more time outdoors, enjoying the fresh air and nature.

Having extra seating on hand as well as seating areas that can be transitioned and used for different purposes is also great for any size backyard.

backyard ideas with a fire pit and a seating area by a vegetable garden

#4 // Start a Vegetable Garden

Starting a vegetable garden is another simple way to update your backyard space. Whether this is a small garden on your patio or in raised beds in a large backyard, vegetable gardens come in all shapes and sizes and can fit anywhere. Veggie, herb gardens or edible gardens can also be a great learning experience for kids. Have fun planting and harvesting your crops - while you enjoy extra fresh meals.

simple backyard landscaping idea

#5 // Prioritize Privacy

Creating a backyard with some privacy is worth investing in! Privacy adds to being comfortable and relaxed in your space. There are many ways to create privacy though landscape design in a backyard, including planting trees or shrubs, installing a fence, adding a trellis or pergola, or incorporating privacy screens or curtains.

backyard landscaping ideas add privacy through hedges

#6 // Add an Outdoor Fire Pit

Adding an outdoor fire pit is a great addition to a yard that can incorporate the whole family and be used year round. Whether you're keeping warm in the winter or you are roasting marshmallows in the summer, a fire pit is a great activity. It can also be designed as a focal point of your yard. Having a focal point can help a yard feel balanced and organized.

backyard landscaping ideas with a fire pit and planting beds

#7 // Don't Forget the Shade

Shade is critical to making your backyard comfortable and is worth investing in. Whether you create a shady nook in a back corner under some mature trees or purchase a fantastic cantilever umbrella, your guests will thank you for making them comfortable.

a pergola over a dining area on a brick patio

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#8 // Focus on Landscape Lighting

Landscape lighting can completely transform your backyard space by adding both beauty and functionality. By strategically placing lights throughout your outdoor space, you can create a warm and inviting ambiance that's perfect for entertaining or relaxing after dark. There are many different types of landscape lighting, from moonlighting, uplighting, stairway and pathway lighting or just adding string lights!

Landscape lighting can highlight the unique features of your backyard, such as trees, water features, or sculptures, highlighting what you chose in the evening.

Lighting is also critical for safety. Illuminating pathways, steps, and potential hazards, makes it easier and safer to navigate your backyard in the dark.

ambient lighting in an outdoor area in small backyards

#9 // Add Square Footage with a Shed

If your short on livable space, adding a shed can be a fantastic way to create more room. Whether you have a large backyard or small backyard, a shed can work when correctly worked into your landscape.

A shed can help with organization of your outdoor and gardening supplies or can be the perfect mother in law suite, gym or office area. While they are an investment upfront, they can truly transform the way you use your entire home.

a backyard landscape with a shed and seating area

#10 // Indulge Your Passions

Express your personality in your space and make it uniquely yours. Whether it's adding a water feature such as bubbling fountain or a trellis with a flowering vine - don't feel like you need to have a cookie cutter space.

While indulging in your passions could be more than a "simple" update, plan ahead and work towards a yard that you love. Maybe it's an outdoor kitchen because you love to cook, or DIY building a container gardening area or focusing on composting and sustainable living - small steps will get you there!

There are also some larger projects that can be DIY'd depending how handy you are. Adding an outdoor fireplace may seem daunting, but there are some great DIY kits that can help!

outdoor kitchen in a small backyard

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Backyard Landscaping 101

If you are adding new plants (softscape) to your yard when making updates, remember there are many important factors you should consider in order to have a successful garden.

Here are a few priorities:

Focus on Native Plants

It's important to pick the right plants for your yard. Focus on native plants that help support a diverse and healthy ecosystem. These plants will thrive in your yard because they are used to your climate, soil, and other environmental conditions of your particular region. Native plants generally require less water and fertilizer than non-native plants and your local wildlife will thank you.

Design to Your Climate

Lean into your local conditions. Do you need drought tolerant plants, would an xeriscape design save your water bill, would planting a rock garden blend in with your surroundings and keep your maintenance minimal. Having a low maintenance garden is a priority to most so design accordingly.

Find Your Style

Updating your yard is the perfect time to embrace your favorite garden style. Whether you are looking to design a modern garden with a minimal color palette and ornamental grasses, a cottage garden with bushels of flowers, a Southwestern landscape with terracotta potted plants or a Tropical garden with lush greenery - consider what you like before you put the shovel in the ground.

Invest Smartly

Have a landscape design master plan so that you don't have to change course or dig any plants up in order to achieve your goals. While some projects you are interested in may not be "simple" you can tackle them in phases when you are ready to achieve the yard perfect for your family.

additional seating around a firepit area in a backyard garden

About Tilly

Tilly’s easy online landscape design process has been embraced by homeowners across the country and in Canada. Tilly breaks packages into the Front Yard, Backyard or your Full Yard. We match you with a professional landscape designer who is familiar with your region to create the perfect custom plan for your outdoor space.

To start our process you’ll fill out a questionnaire about your property that helps our design team understand your goals, needs and existing landscape. You can add 3d renders, lighting plans or side yards to your design package. You’ll then meet with your designer on a video call, show them your space and discuss your priorities. Tilly also offers individual DIY projects, including a DIY Garden Bed if you aren’t ready to tackle your entire yard.

Whether you are just looking to add some curb appeal or transform your entire backyard - we have a team for you!

Wherever you are in your yard journey, we can help!

Read more about: Landscape Design Tips