By Candis Meredith
Older homes and properties can be really funny when it comes to backyards. These gorgeous houses will either be built in the middle of a big lot with a ton of space on every side, or they’ll be penned in with hardly any real estate to work with. The former has its own difficulties, like figuring out what kind of landscaping to do on a big patch of land, but the latter has always been more of a challenge for me.
After all, who wants to walk out the back door and feel like they can’t sneeze without hitting the neighbor’s back patio? While you can’t magically make a house’s backyard bigger, there are a few things you can do to make it feel a lot bigger and more open than it actually is.
Turn Your Tiny Yard into a Large Patio
If you have a really restricted backyard, one of my favorite hacks is to turn the whole thing into a vibrant, open patio. Build an attractive privacy fence or wall around the perimeter and extend your patio deck out to it. You can add built-in planters to bring some greenery into the mix, and you can put in a fire pit or some other focal point to make it feel like a well-designed space rather than a bunch of wood planks.
Keep Scale in Mind
As you plan your landscaping and other details, think about the scale of the yard and the things you’ll be adding. You don’t want to plant a tree that’s going to grow up to 100 feet tall and 50-75 feet wide, or it will end up taking over the whole yard. Instead, consider smaller trees, shrubs, and decorative grasses strategically placed around the lot.
Go with a Hedge Instead of a Fence
One great way to add greenery to a small backyard without taking up too much space is to plant a hedge instead of building a fence. You’ll get added privacy with a natural look and feel, and you’ll have more space to do whatever else you want with the yard.
Control Sight Lines
One of the most important things to consider when working with a tiny backyard is what your buyers (or you, if it’s your home) will see when they step out the back door. If the view is the back of a neighbor’s house or something else that’s less than appealing, think about how you can control sight lines to make the yard more inviting.
A high wall, fence, or hedge around the yard will give it an enclosed feel, and a trellised arch over the back gate or over the side entrance to the backyard can give the space a whimsical look and feel.
Create an Outdoor Room
Finally, consider that even a very small backyard is probably about the same size as some interior rooms. Instead of leaving it open, you might want to add some outdoor furniture and create a sitting “room” outside where your buyers can enjoy reading, having a drink, and visiting with friends and family on mild days and nights.
A small backyard doesn’t have to be a curse. In fact, it can be a really cool detail that adds to the house’s charm. If you do it right, designing a small backyard can be a lot of fun, and it could end up being your buyers’ favorite thing about the whole house! Try out one or more of these tips and see what you can do with your next small backyard.