How to design a great backyard

Household 5 min read

One of the best places to enjoy all that any season has to offer is from the comfort of your own backyard. Backyards offer amazing design opportunities that give us a chance to create everything from the ideal outdoor kitchen to the perfect poolside retreat.

No matter the size of your yard or your budget, with a little creativity, your backyard can be the seasonal vacation spot you’ve always dreamed of, and the only place you want to be when the weather changes.

The first thing to we need to remember about our outdoor rooms is that they are rooms. For the most part, what it takes to design them well is exactly the same as for any other space in your home. Here are a few tips on how to design a great backyard. 

Start with a unified color palette

Deciding on your color palette is a great place to start planning, as it will impact every other decision you make.

In this outdoor lounge, a classic black-and-white color scheme is the foundation of the entire space. Echoed from the walls to the tables and cushions, it sets the perfect backdrop to show off the amazing gray geometric tile floor that’s this outdoor room’s real star.

black and white outdoor backyard

Photo credit: Chinasa Cooper

Invest in hard-wearing materials

Speaking of tile floors, hard-wearing materials like tile are one of the best investments you can make in your backyard, specifically when it comes to high-traffic areas. Shoes and feet can be hard on surfaces. Weather is even harder. 

If you don’t want to spend the beginning of every summer repairing the damage winter did to your outdoor paradise during the cold months, it’s a good idea to cover your outdoor area in materials that can stand up to all that winter can dish out. Tiling is also a great way to manage the amount of greenery in the outdoor space for anyone whose idea of a fun weekend doesn’t include large amounts of gardening and mowing or keep the work to a minimum for anyone whose does.

gray tiles for backyard

Photo credit: Chinasa Cooper

Go modular with seating

Space management is every bit as vital a skill in outdoor spaces as it is indoors. Outside may seem like it goes on forever, but there’s only so much of it that we have to call our own. How much you can do with your portion will depend a great deal on how well you arrange the elements that you use to design it.

If your outdoor space isn’t served by living room-style arrangements of bulky outdoor furniture, it might be a good idea to think outside the box by going modular with your seating choices.

This spacious back patio makes good use of its square footage by keeping most of the seating against the walls. By pairing each bench with a small table, the setup is built to accommodate a variety of get-togethers while keeping the main space free for dancing, mingling, or little ones running around. As an added bonus, because the cushion tops aren’t attached and the bases are hollow, each bench doubles as storage for anything this outdoor space might need.

Backyard seating against a wall

Photo credit: Chinasa Cooper

Add extra seating

It’s good to have space for the whole family to be outside together, and even better when there’s a couple of different options for making that happen. If you’ll be spending a lot of time in your backyard over the summer, making room for a few different seating arrangements will help you accommodate family and guests easily.

In addition to the modular bench seating on this patio, this charming bistro arrangement was also added to create more room for guests to sit and eat. The tall-legged table and chairs create a visual contrast with the low bench seating available throughout the rest of the space while providing enough space for four to dine together. And the striking piece of outdoor art hung over the vignette completes the feeling of dining out.

Outdoor table in backyard

Photo credit: Chinasa Cooper

Create a potted plant garden

Just because you’ve opted out of mowing duty by creating tiled floors for your yard doesn’t mean you have to give up greenery altogether. One way to get the best of both worlds is with a potted plant garden.

Keeping each plant in its own small controlled environment is a perfect way to get all of the beauty of your favorite flora in your space without having to worry about pests, weeds, or other landscaping concerns. By combining plants with different leaves, heights and colors, you can create an eye-catching vignette that will only add to the appeal of the space.

This outdoor space uses its corners to add some natural beauty to the setting. The tall sculptural plant is the main attraction, flanked by smaller, more colorful offerings. Potted plant gardens are also a great place for accessories, like the brass candle lantern at the center of the arrangement. And placing one potted plant on the grill is a brilliant way to tie the plant vignette to the rest of the room, helping the entire space to feel like it fits together naturally.

potted plants in a backyard

Photo credit: Chinasa Cooper

Include double-duty accent pieces

Styling with accessories that perform multiple tasks is a smart way to blend form and function inside the house. Outside, it’s even more indispensable, as it allows you to keep the things you need on hand without having to continually run back into the house for things. Pulling double duty doesn’t have to be complicated or require the same mechanics as a sofa bed. Often, it’s just using an object’s basic function in a number of different ways. 

Just as the hollow bench seating in this outdoor space doubles as storage, the bistro tables are also being put to extra use. They can be used to display accessories, be a platform for food overflow, and also work as additional seating for those barbecue blowout events.

bistro table on backyard patio

Photo credit: Chinasa Cooper

Make room for the grill

When it comes to summer days out back, we all know what the main attraction is—the grill. Just like the sofa defines the living room, and the bed defines the bedroom, the grill is one of the major defining pieces of the outdoors. 

This grill sits along the back wall of this outdoor oasis, promising months of good times and amazing meals. Its black and metallic sheen fits perfectly with the palette of the space, making it a centerpiece of the decor and the star of the show!

Silver grill on patio

Photo credit: Chinasa Cooper

Whether you’re designing the perfect backyard or not, be sure to keep everything you love protected with Progressive. 

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