Beautiful Backyard Ideas to Enjoy Your Outdoor Space | Almanac.com

Beautiful Backyard Ideas to Enjoy Your Outdoor Space

Backyard Retreat
Photo Credit
Hannah Mariah/Shutterstock

Creating a cozy, inviting backyard oasis

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Get ready for summertime fun and relaxation! Here are 10 ideas in creating a backyard oasis that is cozy and inviting so that your outdoor space is your happy place!

1. Define the space you wish to improve. Think of it as an outdoor room. Are you going to add a deck or terrace or patio? It can be constructed with wood, composite lumber, brick, stone, or concrete pavers. 

A simple modular wood floor defines the area of this outdoor space.

Not in your budget? Spread a layer of crushed stone or gravel to delineate the area! Then bring in container pots and a upcycled table and chairs with cushions to create a focal point.

2. Privacy. A fence, tall hedges, or trellises covered with vines can all be used to make an open area seem more secluded and private. If you’d like a living fence, see fast-growing hedges and shrubs for privacy.

This small townhouse gardener created her own sanctuary. Credit: HannahMariah.
For instant screening, find a wood lattice at any home improvement store. Credit: Rudmer Zwerver
Evergreen shrubs, bushes, and even lower-growing boxwood can create a sense of privacy. Credit: RacheeLynn.

3.  Furniture. Comfortable seating is the focal point of an outdoor room. Be sure to use weather-resistant materials and fabrics that can handle the elements. Rain and UV exposure can take a toll. 

A simple chaise lounge and table creates a haven. Don’t forget the comfy pillows! Credit: Gordon Swanson.

Or, a colorful hammock in the shade, hanging between trees, gives an instant feeling of carefree living. 

A hammock in the shade is the perfect place to spend a summer afternoon!

4. Lighting. Whether you use LED, solar, candles, tiki torches, or string lights, outdoor lighting sets the mood and extends use of your space into the night. Be sure to light walkways and any stairs for safety.

String lights along the fence define your outdoor space at night while giving it a party feel.

5. Music. Whatever your taste in music, pipe some tunes out to your cozy getaway spot. It can add a soothing note at the end of the day, rev you up in the morning, or get the party started!

6. Shade. Some shade is necessary to give you a spot to cool off. Trees are perfect if you can set up some chairs or a hammock in their shade. Otherwise use a patio umbrella, awning, or pergola to block the sun during the hottest part of the day. 

How about a gazebo for a shady getaway and to define an outdoor space? Credit: Ozgur Coskun.

7. Dining. A table and chairs for outdoor meals are a must-have. Set up a drinks’ station with your favorite beverages and plenty of ice. Snacks can be stashed in tins to keep the ants and other critters from helping themselves.

Your summer kitchen can be sleek or…

8. Cooking. Having the grill close at hand will turn eating outside into less of a chore. An outdoor kitchen, complete with mini-fridge, sink, and counter space, would make prep and clean-up even easier but don’t break the budget on it! Make sure that you would actually use it often enough to justify the expense. Otherwise there are workarounds such as an ice chest, large cutting board, and a handy cart for transporting food and dishes.

…rustic. Whatever style fits your life.

9. Plants. Tropical plants lend an exotic feel to any garden. Foliage plants including cannas, bananas, coleus, elephant ears, and caladiums can fill a space quickly.

Lots of flowers surround this backyard oasis.

10. Flowering plants. Bring in the butterflies, hummingbirds, and song birds! See how to create a bird-friendly garden. Don’t forget the nectar-filled plants that hummingbirds love! They are so much fun to watch! Hanging baskets are a must-have for decorating. If biting pests are bugging you, try some of these insect-repelling plants.

Birds are drawn to the sound of water. If an elaborate fountain is not in your budget, try adding a small solar powered one to your birdbath.

11. Water feature. The soothing sound of splashing water from a simple fountain adds a soothing vibe to your yard and also brings in the birds and butterflies. If you have room to build a pond, watching fish lazily swimming around can also be relaxing. It doesn’t have to be a huge budget-buster, just deep enough for some goldfish and a few water plants. You’ll feel like you are always on vacation!

A small pond with a few fish and a frog or two can capture your attention for hours.

Think about your family’s needs and make up a wishlist. Will the kids need room for sports and an area for their toys, wading pool, and trampoline? Do the dogs need a place to play and pee? Are you into entertaining or do you only need a quiet spot for yoga and morning coffee? Do you want room for cornhole and pickleball, or want a hot tub and a firepit for year-round use? 

Gas-fired firepit takes center stage in this simple backyard space.

Take your time, prioritize your needs, and stick to your budget. It may take several years to accomplish but eventually you can transform your boring backyard into a cozy retreat custom-made for you!

Start small with an inviting spot for two and work your way up!


About The Author

Robin Sweetser

Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. Read More from Robin Sweetser

2023 Gardening Club