Everybody knows that the front yard landscaping is usually the showpiece of your home. However, your backyard is really your sanctuary. It’s that special place where you entertain friends and family, as well being as your own personal oasis for relaxing and playing. That’s why you want it to be perfect in every way and contain everything you need for your own pleasure and that of your family and guests.
Many homeowners will just put a patio here and a firepit there without really planning the overall design of their backyard when they feel that it is in need of a facelift. And that’s generally because what their backyard really needs is a total makeover, not just a nip and a tuck here and there. The first step toward that makeover is a design plan.
For starters if you have a beautiful custom home, you need a beautiful custom backyard, so you want to look at it holistically. To that idea here are a few tips for planning your dream backyard.
- Picture Your Dream Backyard
Start by asking yourself a few simple questions. What is it you’re actually looking for? This boils down to a few choices:
- A playground for your kids,
- A warm and cozy retreat,
- An entertaining area,
- A sports oasis,
- All of the above.
Yes, you can have it all, depending upon your creativity, your budget, and your timeline.
- Favorite Materials
Think about it carefully. What materials do you prefer? Do you love weathered wood or would you rather have the convenience of Trex decking and brick pavers? Do you want lots of aromatic flowering plants or easy-care succulents and other sustainable plants? Is a tropical oasis full of palm trees your ideal yard? Are you a fan of lush green lawns for the kids and dogs to play on or do you dream of something simpler and less time-intensive?
All good questions, so you might want to make a list of what you really do and don’t like in a yard and go from there. If you’re unsure, take a look at some yards online or in magazines to get some inspiration. Here’s an in-depth look at creating a waterfall into your pool, if you’re a “do-it-yourself’er”
You need to be realistic and honest about just how involved you want to be in the upkeep of your backyard. If your backyard design includes a pool, plan on hiring a pool man. If you choose a plan that includes plenty of grass and high upkeep plants, consider hiring a gardener. That is unless your idea of a good time is spending your weekends gardening. If so, more power to you. Gardening can be therapeutic and healthy but if you don’t have the time nor the inclination, leave it to the professionals.
In need of a good landscaping company? Here’s a list
If neither idea sounds good to you, then opt for more pavers, pathways, Trex decking, sustainable plants, and other easy-care options, You’ll be glad that you did. You want to be sure that your design will bring you years of pleasure, not pain and hard work.
Now, perhaps your most important decision is what features do you really want? Would you love to have a:
- Water feature?
- Sports court?
- Covered patio?
- Outdoor kitchen?
- Outdoor dining area?
- Outdoor living area or outdoor theater?
- Putting green?
- Grassy area?
- Privacy screen?
Let’s just assume that you want all of it and can afford it as well. Now, you should consider the placement of everything. Of course, you may decide to hire a landscape designer to do all of this and that’s a great idea. But, just in case you are more of a DIY fan or if you just want to get a basic idea of where everything might go in your grand backyard plan, you can do it on your computer with a design program or just on paper.
Getting Started With Your Plan
Take measurements of your backyard and, while you’re doing that, take stock of any features that you plan on keeping. Maybe you have some stately old oaks in your yard. Well, then you’ll most likely prefer to keep them and work around them. Maybe you even have an existing pool. You may want to give it a facelift and then design your backyard around the pool area as a focal point.
Your plan should provide a birds-eye view of your backyard project so that it can be logically implemented. A landscape designer often draws a bubble that represents each space and then links them together using gardens, pathways, and areas of grass. You’ll want each one of the individual spaces to flow nicely into the next space. You can also create the illusion of separate spaces via a change in elevation or flooring material.
Now, determine a scale for your backyard measurements and divide your backyard into four quadrants. That way, you can move things around between those quadrants until you get what you want. Standing at the back of your custom home and facing toward your back property line, you have a front left and right quadrant and a rear left and right quadrant.
So, let’s say, you already have a pool and it’s in the right front quadrant. You’ll want to design around that and draw in any additions you might want to make, like a waterslide, fountain, or spa. You should also include decking, a retaining wall if necessary, and plantings. Be sure to consider plants that will do well in that geographical location and be sure to skip plants like bottlebrush and some others that draw bees. Also, avoid those that will drop a lot of leaves, dead blossoms, or other debris into your nice clean pool in-between weekly visits from your pool man.
OK, here are a few other placement suggestions to bear in mind:
It should be placed as close to your indoor kitchen as possible to facilitate easy transporting of food from inside. You’ll probably want to include a built-in barbecue, solid surface countertop with storage underneath, a sink, a small fridge, a dishwasher, and a bar for seating with stools. If space and placement allow it, you might also want to consider an outdoor flat screen TV opposite the bar so your guests can watch the big game.
Outdoor dining area
This should be placed close to your outdoor kitchen in the same quadrant for both convenience and aesthetics. A covered area for both could make life easier, too, in the case of rain or to protect from the bright sun. The same goes for an outdoor living area and/or outdoor theater.
Playground and/or putting green
You might want to consider placing them in a back quadrant as far away from the pool as possible.
A gazebo is best placed in the far back corner of a back quadrant so it won’t block the view.
If you choose a lawn area in your backyard, the best placement would be near the playground in a back quadrant.
If you don’t already have a pool and want one, be sure to carefully consider the placement based upon whether you have kids and other considerations. If it needs a safety fence, you might want to consider placement in a back quadrant for aesthetic purposes. If not, you should consider how big your yard is overall and if placement in a front quadrant might be more convenient. Placement near a bathroom with access to the outdoors is a something to consider also.
A Room With a View
Don’t forget that your backyard should bring you pleasure all of the time, not just when you’re outside. It should be like a piece of artwork that you enjoy year-round, rain or shine, and day or night. How? By being able to enjoy it from inside your custom home. So, starting with your kitchen window, take into consideration what the view will look like based upon your placement decisions. And, don’t forget to get creative with your backyard lighting for that magical nighttime view.
Color makes a world of difference in the home. Trust us