37 Ways to Make a Small Backyard Feel Twice Its Size (2024)

37 Ways to Make a Small Backyard Feel Twice Its Size (1)

We can't all have a sweeping rose garden, Olympic-sized swimming pool, or a state-of-the-art tennis court in our backyard—but a small backyard is still a backyard (and even rooftop terraces and modest balconies count in our book). Indeed, you don't need acres on acres to create a charming space conducive to alfresco entertaining, gardening, romance, and pensive solo hangs in the great outdoors. We gathered a plethora of beautiful and small backyards to prove it. So keep reading for small backyard decorating and landscape design ideas that'll help you get the most out of yours.

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1

Erect a Sauna

37 Ways to Make a Small Backyard Feel Twice Its Size (2)

A small two- or one-person sauna will transform a small, lack-luster backyard into a luxurious oasis. Plus, installing a free-standing sauna outside will allow you to avoid of all the fuss of sufficiently ventilating your interiors. You can buy one prefab or you can take notes from this outdoor sauna by Alexander Design and create a more architecturally unique structure that beautifies the garden.

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2

Make It Count

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This exquisitely-designed patio by Robson Rak proves that you don't need a ton of square footage to make an outdoor space memorable. Choose outdoor fabric in an offbeat, sophisticated color and then spotlight chic materials.

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3

Rethink Your Layout

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While this backyard definitely isn't pint-sized, designer Jenn Feldman tells us it was difficult to fit the pool in given regional restrictions regarding property lines. So she made it work by planting ficus trees to tighten up greenery (other plants would be too deeply rooted to work with the desired pool depth) and opted for smaller floor cushions instead of loungers. She also installed a swimming jet so the occupant could still do "laps."

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4

Incorporate Things You'll Actually Use

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This modestly-sized London backyard by Applied Studio manages to pack in a ton of functional value, from the small herb garden to the footpath and picnic area. The real highlight, though, is the indoor/outdoor structure. One half is a little relaxation and meditation area and the other is a small sauna.

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5

Make It Feel Lived In

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A pergola enhances the intimacy of a small space and allows you to get more use out of it since it lets in just the right amount of sun. Twisty branches and flowering vines scale this pergola on Wendy Wurtzburger's 1840 property, making the structure feel like it grew from the ground beneath it. The mossy brick ground contributes to the flow and proves that brick really only gets better with time.

6

Craft a Story

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Think of your garden as an organized procession, advises Hollander. Stone steps will give your outdoor space some structure and lead your guests in the right direction, no matter how big or small your garden is.

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7

Forgo a Lawn

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Ditch grass and instead opt for a natural stone for an old-world charm, like Wendy Owen did here (especially if you can incorporate greenery through climbing ivy and a hydrangea bush). Not only will it be easier to maintain, but it will also make it easier to use furniture, whether you opt for loungers or a patio dining set.

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8

Add Colorful Accents

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A corner fountain puts the finishing touches on this idyllic brick patio by Kingston Lafferty Design. Blue patio furniture breaks up the warmer tones from the exposed brick.

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9

Convert a Parkway

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What is now a beautiful patio used to be the parking area! If you don't need the extra space for a car, then convert it into something you'll actually want to look at and use. Gary McBournie gave this saturated red brick patio a second life with a central sculpture and plenty of lush gardens. The red hue warms up the gray shingles and blue shutters on his Nantucket property.

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10

Set up a Gazebo

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If you want to carve out a stylish hang area that feels truly transporting, opt for a backyard gazebo. This one from April Powers is also a post-swim hang area—the ideal compromise when you don't have the room, budget, or desire to build a full-blown pool house. The crawling vines, sheers, and camouflaging paint color allow the gazebo to blend right in with the garden environment, while the bench and coffee table ensure comfort and function.

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11

Make a Mini Greenhouse

Leanne Ford built this A-frame garden shed to function as an outdoor playhouse for her daughter and plans to turn it into a greenhouse once she outgrows its current use-case.

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12

Nurture Your Kids's Hobbies

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A treehouse and a skateboarding ramp? Talk about landscaping dreams come true for a family home with active kids. Designed by Cuff Home in Los Angeles, this backyard is both a beautiful garden and a fun park. And they both fit in the relatively small backyard!

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13

Install an Outdoor Shower

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If you only have room for one exciting thing in your backyard, make sure to choose something you'll really love (and that could drive up resale value). Outdoor showers can dramatically increase the value of your home—according to a 2018 report from Realtor.com, homes with outdoor showers tend to list for nearly double the asking price of others. Take a cue from this small backyard by Akin Atelier and its rustic yet luxe outdoor showering area.

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14

Pick Statement Greenery

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If you only have a small patio, use smart furniture that's super comfy and can seat a several people. Here, a simple daybed does the trick. Then, add greenery and a couple of outdoor throw pillows for color and impact.

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15

Make It Multipurpose

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If you can't fit a separate garden, greenhouse, and dining space into your outdoor area, design your backyard in a way that makes all of them possible in one contained spot. Take notes from this patio designed by Studio Ashby. This terrace is a dining space, a romantic relaxation spot (hello, hanging chair), and a garden all at once.

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16

Embrace Coziness

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The best part about a tiny backyard is that it's inherently cozy. One well-designed sitting area is all you need for a dream backyard. Get inspired by this fire pit area at a property designed by Alexander DB.

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17

Break Things Up With Levels

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A multi-level landscape design can create the illusion of a larger backyard. It breaks things up visually and allows you to designate each level to a different purpose. In this 2LG studio–designed yard, the bottom level is a dining patio, and the shrubbery border helps transition to the upper yard.

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18

Compromise, Compromise, Compromise

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So you would love a swimming pool, but there's not enough room... You'd love a sprawling outdoor lounge, but simply don't have the space... A well-designed deck and tasteful freestanding hot tub can be just as covetable, as proven by this outdoor area by Regan Baker Design.

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19

Be Resourceful

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When your backyard is actually a small balcony, you'll need to get crafty. Turn it into a small garden with plenty of plants, but leave space for a coffee table (or bistro table if that won't fit) and a small settee or stool with throws and pillows to warm things up.

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20

Don't Overdo It

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In this backyard designed by Arent & Pyke, a sleek garden bench under the trees is enough to complete the look. If you have a nice shady spot, simply pull up a bench, add a colorful throw pillow, and call it a day.

As an expert in small backyard design and landscaping, I can confidently say that creating a charming and functional outdoor space doesn't require acres of land. Whether you have a small backyard, a rooftop terrace, or a modest balcony, there are plenty of ways to transform your space into a beautiful oasis for alfresco entertaining, gardening, and relaxation.

When it comes to small backyard decorating and landscape design, there are several concepts to consider. Let's explore each of them:

  1. Sauna: Consider adding a small, two- or one-person sauna to your backyard. This luxurious addition can transform a lack-luster space into a relaxing oasis. Opt for a free-standing sauna to avoid the hassle of ventilating your interiors. You can choose a prefab sauna or create a more architecturally unique structure that enhances the beauty of your garden.

  2. Make It Count: Even with limited square footage, you can create a memorable outdoor space. Select outdoor fabric in sophisticated colors and highlight chic materials to elevate the design of your patio. It's all about making the most of the available space and creating an exquisite ambiance.

  3. Rethink Your Layout: Sometimes, regional restrictions regarding property lines can make it challenging to fit a pool in a small backyard. In such cases, consider planting ficus trees to tighten up the greenery instead of using other plants that may have deep roots. Opt for smaller floor cushions instead of loungers and install a swimming jet to allow the occupant to still enjoy swimming laps.

  4. Incorporate Things You'll Actually Use: Make sure to include elements in your small backyard that you'll actually use. Whether it's a small herb garden, a footpath, or a picnic area, functional value is key. Consider adding an indoor/outdoor structure, such as a relaxation and meditation area, or even a small sauna.

  5. Make It Feel Lived In: Enhance the intimacy of your small backyard with a pergola. This addition not only provides shade but also adds character to the space. Consider using twisty branches and flowering vines to create a natural and organic feel. Mossy brick ground can contribute to the overall flow and add a touch of timeless beauty.

  6. Craft a Story: Treat your garden as an organized procession by incorporating stone steps. Regardless of the size of your garden, these steps will give structure to your outdoor space and guide your guests in the right direction.

  7. Forgo a Lawn: Instead of having a traditional grass lawn, opt for a natural stone surface to add old-world charm. Incorporate greenery through climbing ivy and a hydrangea bush. Not only will this be easier to maintain, but it will also provide a better foundation for furniture placement, whether it's loungers or a patio dining set.

  8. Add Colorful Accents: Bring vibrancy to your small backyard with colorful accents. Consider adding a corner fountain or incorporating blue patio furniture to break up warmer tones. These accents can add visual interest and create an inviting atmosphere.

  9. Convert a Parkway: If you have unused space, such as a parking area, consider converting it into something more visually appealing and functional. You can transform it into a patio, garden, or even incorporate sculptures and lush gardens to breathe new life into the space.

  10. Set up a Gazebo: For a stylish and transportive hangout area, opt for a backyard gazebo. Choose a design that blends seamlessly with your garden environment, and consider adding crawling vines, sheers, benches, and a coffee table to ensure both comfort and function.

  11. Make a Mini Greenhouse: If you have a small backyard and a green thumb, consider building an A-frame garden shed that can double as a playhouse for your children and eventually be converted into a greenhouse.

  12. Nurture Your Kids' Hobbies: Create a backyard that caters to your children's hobbies. Whether it's a treehouse, a skateboarding ramp, or a combination of both, design a space that allows them to have fun while enjoying the beauty of nature.

  13. Install an Outdoor Shower: If you're looking to add a unique feature to your backyard, consider installing an outdoor shower. Not only will it enhance your own enjoyment of the space, but it can also increase the value of your home.

  14. Pick Statement Greenery: Even with a small patio, you can create a cozy and inviting space by using smart furniture and incorporating greenery. A simple daybed can provide ample seating, and adding outdoor throw pillows and plants can add color and impact.

  15. Make It Multipurpose: If space is limited, design your backyard to accommodate multiple functions. Whether it's a dining space, a relaxation spot, or a garden, find creative ways to incorporate all these elements into one contained spot.

  16. Embrace Coziness: The inherent coziness of a tiny backyard is its charm. Create a dream backyard with a well-designed sitting area, such as a fire pit, where you can relax and enjoy the outdoors.

  17. Break Things Up With Levels: Consider a multi-level landscape design to create the illusion of a larger backyard. Each level can have a designated purpose, such as a dining patio or a garden area. Use shrubbery or other landscaping elements to transition between levels.

  18. Compromise, Compromise, Compromise: If you don't have enough room for a swimming pool or a sprawling outdoor lounge, consider a well-designed deck and a freestanding hot tub. These alternatives can still create a covetable outdoor space within the constraints of a small backyard.

  19. Be Resourceful: When your backyard is limited to a small balcony, get crafty. Create a small garden with plenty of plants and leave space for a coffee table or a bistro table. Add a small settee or stool with throws and pillows to create a cozy atmosphere.

  20. Don't Overdo It: Sometimes, less is more. A sleek garden bench placed under a tree can be enough to complete the look of your backyard. If you have a nice shady spot, simply add a bench, a colorful throw pillow, and enjoy the simplicity.

These concepts demonstrate that with a little creativity and thoughtful design, you can transform even the smallest backyard into a beautiful and functional outdoor space. So go ahead and make the most of your limited space to enjoy alfresco entertaining, gardening, and moments of relaxation in the great outdoors.

37 Ways to Make a Small Backyard Feel Twice Its Size (2024)
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