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Backyard Landscaping Ideas

Backyard landscaping idea showing how using a timber retaining wall has created a lovely, flat lawn, easily accessed by a flight of three wide timber steps.

Backyard Landscaping : 4 Great Ideas

Backyards are not what they used to be! Long gone are the days of newly built homes sitting adrift on a large expanse of lawn, barren of landscaping bar the rotary clothesline and a lone citrus tree!  

The size of the average backyard may have shrunk, however homeowners ideas and dreams for these rear garden spaces have grown and in a quest to maximise every square metre of your  expensive urban real estate, it's easy to end up with a jumbled and cluttered garden. You can transform even a tiny backyard by creating a well thought out landscaping plan that considers the aesthetics and spatial aspects of your yard, at the same time as resolving functional issues such as uneven site levels, lack of privacy and poor drainage. Here's 4 Great Ideas to get you started.

Ideas 1 - Backyard Landscaping to Maximise Space

It’s rare to find a perfectly flat backyard so when you have a sloping, hard to mow lawn or a steep,  unusable backyard, use a retaining wall to level out the uneven topography and create a flat space that is perfect for a children's play lawn or trampoline. A built retaining wall takes up very little ground space, making it a better choice for the small back yard than a battered slope, which is another method often used as a cheap way to create flat areas in the garden. 

Creating a distinct change of level is an old landscaping trick you can use to make a garden feel larger and more interesting, as well as to maximise the actual physical space.  When you use a retaining wall to extend your outdoor or patio living space, make the most of the wall by creating it at seating height, so it can be used as casual seating. The perfect height for built-in garden seating is between 450mm and 600mm high.

Landscaping idea showing a deck with a change in level to a well vegetated patio at a lower level. This small change in height makes the small backyard seem much bigger
A small change in height will make a garden seem bigger

Idea 2: Terraced Landscaping For An Uneven Backyard

Uneven backyards can be a real challenge and a cost-effective landscaping idea you can use is to make use of the changes in  ground height to create a terraced back yard. This can reduce the need for extensive excavation and larger retaining structures, and has spatial benefits. By having small changes in height you can make a garden seem bigger, and the different levels can be used to separate the garden and create the infamous 'garden rooms'  you have no doubt read about.

A step up or down from a patio or deck to a lawn is a great way you can mark a change in function  in the garden, such as from an entertaining space into a backyard play zone or an open lawn space. A comfortable step height for the garden is around 180-190mm and these are called 'risers'. The steeper the riser, the shallower the tread of your step should be. In circumstances where you have more than one riser,  the sum of two treads plus one riser should add up to around 650mm -750mm. Be guided by your site levels as to how many steps are right to make the transition from one terrace to the next.  

A backyard landscaping idea showing a sunken firepit area with built in timber seats surrounding a sunken fire pit area. /in the centre of the garden space sits a rust-look firebowl. The space has lush planting in the background.
A popular backyard landscaping ideas to consider

Idea 3: Low Maintenance Backyard

Even if the garden already has a deck or patio this doesn’t mean that there can’t be a second garden space dedicated to alfresco dining or outdoor living and entertaining. Hardscaping is a great way to create a low maintenance backyard, or for those blessed with a large empty space but struggling for ideas. 

The trick for having two successful outdoor living spaces in your back garden, is to make them feel very different from each other. So if your your existing outdoor living space is a pergola covered deck space with comfy sofas, you can add diversity and extend your outdoor living opportunities with a change in surface material and using a different style of furniture, such as low-slung casual chairs around a firepit on a flagstone patio. You can create a low-maintenance garden using easy-care surface materials such as natural stone paving or tiles on a concrete slab, or an area of decorative concrete cut to resemble tiles, as this will prevent weed growth between pavers  laid directly on the ground or on basecourse. It is advisable when adding more hardscaped surfaces to your yard to check your local council website to ensure that  the permeable to impermeable site cover ratios stipulated in your region will not be exceeded. 

A lovely lawn area in a backyard featuring to circles of lush green grass intersected by a band of small square pavers. The same pavers wrap the periphery of both the lawn s and match the larger, autumn-toned pavers of the adjacent patio area.
A healthy green lawn is a beautiful thing

Idea 4 : Landscaping for Lawn lovers

A swathe of healthy green lawn is a beautiful thing and it is one of the most cost-effective ways you can cover a large garden space. It will make your lawn easier to maintain if you have a defined lawn edge to help the garden hold its shape. A 50mm timber edge is cost-effective and ideal for straight lines, while curved lawns are best edged in concrete or defined by a discreet steel edge. 

A great landscaping idea for the lawn lovers amongst us who want to push the design envelope and do not mind a bit of extra maintenance, is to incorporate paving or hardscape detail into the turf. A transition between areas of paving and lawn using a checker board effect is fun, interesting to look at, and multi-purpose.  A less functional idea that is worth considering for decorative interest, is to use bands of concrete or paving to create shapes or lines which break up the lawn and create visual, such as a circular detail within a larger lawn.  

Garden designers are a great source of inspiration and landscaping ideas. Here at DIY Designs we offer a range of Fixed Price Garden Designs Services to help you get your backyard landscaping project underway.