How To Design My Backyard Landscape

When I initially started thinking of how to design my backyard landscape to enhance the value and comfort of your house, it was definitely overwhelming.

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When I initially started thinking of how to design my backyard landscape to enhance the value and comfort of your house, it was definitely overwhelming.

Where should I start? Which plants do I include? Should the pathways be included, and if so, should they be curved or straight? Do I want to include trees? How can I create a lounging area? Which materials do I use? The decisions are just too many!

Fortunately, the right steps and knowledge can make the process less complicated. Start by identifying your needs, consider the location of your house, create a landscape plan, declutter the space, decide the plants you want to grow, including border areas, and follow other valuable steps.

You still need to think about plenty of things regarding your garden design and follow a step-by-step guide on the landscaping process to create the ideal backyard landscape design that meets your needs.

Landscaping guides and useful tips from our landscape professionals for DIY landscape design or creating a landscape design for beginners can be a great place to start.

Table of Contents

Essential Steps on Creating a Professional Backyard Landscape

Creating a landscaping garden design might seem challenging, but it can be straightforward if you have the right knowledge. To help you out, here is a step-by-step guide to help you create a contemporary design for your backyard:

1. Identify Your Wants and Needs

First, you must decide how you want to use the space. Do you want to enjoy outdoor family and friends gatherings? Do you need a kids' play area? Do you want to enjoy home-grown vegetables and fruits?

It is best to create a rough design of your backyard and identify which area can be used for what purpose. You can divide the yard into different categories to truly create a breathtaking yet functional outdoor space.

You don’t necessarily need design skills to create a beautiful space; just a rough sketch or ideas can be enough. Have a look at some backyard landscaping ideas for inspiration and get your creative juices flowing.

2. Consider Your Location

To create a professional outdoor space and ensure your plants stay healthy, you must consider the area you live in before starting the design process. Identify the wind and sun patterns as it will help you decide where to grow sun-loving plants and where to create a courtyard seating area.

You must use a USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to determine the type of soil in your garden, the site’s topography, and your regional climate to make informed decisions.

You can consider a drought-tolerant landscape design with plenty of drought-tolerant plants for areas that get plenty of rain. Moreover, you want to create a fire pit away from the windy side of the yard. These are some of the common beginner mistakes you can avoid.

3. Create a Landscape Plan

It is always wiser to create a landscape design before making any design decision. Start by doing your research. Collect garden pictures to see how you envision your own backyard. You will be surprised to know how many types of backyard landscape design aesthetics you can experiment with.

Doing this research will help you establish a design theme for your backyard, and you can decide which type of landscape you want for your garden. From woodland gardens to eastern garden design – you can decide on one based on your location and your needs.

Once you know what you want, you can start measuring your backyard and create a landscape plan. Avoid creating a complicated design, or if you are unsure, you can always get an expert to do the design job. Taking the right measurement will certainly help you be more prepared. It could even help you get an estimate of your backyard landscaping costs.

4. Make a Wishlist

Before starting your backyard landscaping project, you should certainly create a wish list. These can be the things you really want to include in your backyard and the things that are an absolute must. You can begin by making an inventory of the lists your garden must-have, depending on your vision.

Some ideas you can include in the wish list are as follows:

  • Larger Plants
  • Comfortable Seating Areas
  • Steep Slopes
  • Seasonal Displays
  • Firepits and/or Play Areas
  • Design In Verticals
  • All-Green Color Palette
  • Barbeque Area
  • Exterior Porch Flowers
  • Vegetable Garden
  • Water Features

The list can go on. Keep in mind to consider the things that would be achievable in the size of your backyard and the weather in your area.

5. Find the Focal Point

Every good garden starts with a focal point or even multiple focal points. It will help you decide on various aspects of design you want to include in your garden. The focal point can be colorful plants, circular spaces, deciduous shrubs, bed lines, or even a tall tree.

6. Focus on Pacing and Scale

This could be tricky for beginner landscape designers, but pacing and scale ensure a pulled-together look for your backyard. There could be variations in color, shape, size, with tall plants at the back of the annual flowers, bamboo plants lining the exterior walls, and a natural stone path leading through space.

The important thing is to find the right balance on the lawn to make it look professional and appealing. While repetition could create cohesion but too much could result in monotonous. Try adding an occasional new element to form an exciting design element.

7. Declutter The Space

Your backyard should be cleared of all things before you start working on the new design to avoid problems. Decluttering should be the first step after planning the design. It is always best to start with a clean and clear yard.

This could include removing any things lying around, like children’s toys, gardening tools, or supplies, as well as removing unwanted growth and weeds from the ground. Rocks and rubbles can prevent the establishment of plants while you work. You also have to level the yard to include space for a deck or a patio and establish flat lawns.

8. Invest in The Right Materials

Once you have an idea of the type of garden design you want for your backyard, you will know the range of materials you would need. The right materials don’t necessarily translate to costly materials. This might mean getting the materials that will suit your design plan and your yard in general.

Hard materials should be able to blend properly with the fabric of the house, as well as with the internal flooring, to ensure a seamless flow. They should feel and look right with the existing garden materials and the setting. Therefore, locally sourced materials, like natural stones, work well.

Moreover, steel material works well for edging as the earthy, rusty tone of the steel perfectly sits with the rural projects. If you are confused about the colors, always go with neutral shades as they work well with any setting.

9. Divide The Garden into Zones and Connect Them

To add an aesthetic design element, create different garden zones and find a creative way of connecting them. It can create intrigue in the garden design by linking pathways and architectural plants and adding an array of colors.

Continuity between the garden and the house is crucial in a country garden, which can be achieved by selecting the garden materials that work well with the architecture of the house, like timber, natural stone, or slate.

Consider the light and wind conditions when creating the zones to determine which area would be best for which aspects.

10. Decide Your Plants

Now comes an exciting step – selecting the plants you want to grow. Decide whether you want a different color palette or prefer evergreen plants? Here are a few tips that can get you started:

  • As mentioned before, consider the weather in your area as it will narrow down your choices and make it easier for you to pick the plants.
  • Determine the planting bed shape you want. Remember, curves give a natural look, but clean lines highlight the point of interest.
  • Emphasis on texture and size variations to add more interesting elements. Add layers in the flower beds to add dimensions, and don’t forget to consider how tall your plants can become when they mature when deciding the placements.
  • Go with more vegetables and fruits plants if you want to create a kitchen garden or simply want to grow your own food.
  • Consider including resource-efficient plants and avoid aggressive plants or grow them strategically to not overshadow other plants.
  • Add evergreen shrubs along the house or patio to soften the corners.
  • Add in a few designs in verticals if you don’t have a broad lawn and have limited space.

Your focus should be to select those plants that can give your year-round garden interest, like topiary, tall trees, hedges, and evergreens.

11. Don’t Forget the Mulch

A most crucial part of the backyard landscaping process is mulching, which many beginner gardeners neglect. Mulch works by giving your backyard a neat and tidy look by reducing weed growth and providing the right temperature to the plant roots in different weather conditions.

It is recommended to add in the mulch annually. However, you can always use pebbles as a durable alternative to mulch.

12. Include Walkways and Pathways

Adding walkways and pathways is an integral part of the backyard landscaping. Decide what type of pathway you want - cast-stone path, cobbled path, brick pathway, or natural stone path. Select the right materials that have a coarse texture. You can set them in a 1 or 2% slope to ensure the pathways are hazard-free and have a water runoff.

13. Include Border Areas

To give your landscaping design a professional look, add plantings along all fences and exterior walls in tiers. Shrubs can be placed close to the house but ensure you select a shrub that would stay lower than the windows.

The outer layers can include flowers in cool colors that are shorter than the shrubs. Make sure you include plants near the house that flair well in partial shade.

14. Start A Kitchen Garden

If you want to include a kitchen garden, you can take inspiration from the many beautiful kitchen garden ideas available. Pottering among a series of raised beds for your dinner prep and picking out vegetables and herbs is an amazing way to enjoy your garden.

15. Consider Adding Shrubs and Trees

Aside from along the house, you can also consider including tall trees and shrubs along the fences or as a way of creating privacy for your backyard. When planting trees, always dig a hole by leaving a mound of soil behind for the tree, and keep in mind that trees grow well in soils that are well-drained. When there is only a ditch under the root, it could result in air pockets that could eventually cause damage to the tree.

16. Create a Cozy Seating Area

Another exciting part of the backyard landscape design is creating dining spaces or entertainment spaces. Depending on your needs, you can establish built-in seating on a porch or add a dining area wall in the garden to add some privacy.

This will depend on how you want to utilize the space in the future to create a comfy space for you and your family to enjoy.

17. Time For Lighting and Water Features

For the fun part, you can start adding some water features and lighting to truly bring the space together. A small pond can look fabulous in your landscape, or a fountain can add some relaxing sounds. You can also include a tabletop or statue fountain, depending on the space available in your garden.

With the right lighting, you can highlight the main areas of your landscaping. Floodlights are great for beds, spotlights can work for trees, and path lights can illuminate the walkways at nighttime.

18. Enhance the Shady Areas

Certain plants might require deep shade, but you don’t have to add a ton of mulch under the plants to make them work. The best way of enhancing the shady areas in the backyard is to keep the dark green foliage out of that space. Consider growing plants with yellow or white variegated leaves to help them stand out in the shade.

19. Add a Personal Touch

When you are done with the landscaping, you can start having some fun by finishing the landscaping project with personal touches. Add a colorful wall piece to create a balance between lawn and seating spaces. You can even create a backdrop for features by adding details and whimsical elements to further highlight different areas of your backyard landscape.

20. Achieve a Professional Landscape by Consulting the Experts

If you are unsure about designing your backyard landscape or if it gets overwhelming, you can always consult a professional landscape architect or garden designer to help you out. Landscapers are experienced and trained in soft and hard landscaping skills, meaning they can help create a garden from scratch based on the garden's location, area, and size.

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