Small backyard ideas: Help your garden to flourish with these space-saving tips!

Small backyard ideas: image of lots of potted plants in various sizes
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Small backyard ideas are all about transforming the space you have, no matter the size, into a part of your home you can be proud of. There’s no reason at all for a smaller space to mean you have less to work with; in fact, it might just mean you have more focus and time to give your backyard the attention it deserves. With a little bit of love, there’s no limit to how your smaller backyard space can be transformed.

Alongside TLC, one of the best ways to kickstart your very small backyard ideas is with the best home design software. With these programs, you can assess how you can integrate your smaller backyard into the rest of your home space. That might include opening out your home with exterior French doors leading out to your space or creating a patio area for al fresco dining all summer long. For the time being, check out these suggestions for sprucing up your small backyard.

Small backyard ideas: Fast tips for those in a hurry 

  • Pick a color scheme - and stick to it
  • Use varying levels to create different spaces
  • Edge your lawn to perfection
  • Incorporate a water element
  • Set the mood with solar lights
  • Use plants to create an oasis

 1. Decide on your overall look  

Small backyard ideas: picture of small house and garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’re on the hunt for small backyard ideas already, then we’re sure that you don’t need us to tell you that every inch of space counts while creating a little oasis in your backyard. With less space to work with, it’s important to settle on an overall style or theme you want for your outdoor space and incorporate the color scheme, furniture, and extra touches around it. That might mean opting for a modern look, incorporating sharp lines and monochrome furniture, or a more boho-chic look, overflowing with flowers and hanging planters.

Avoiding having too many clashing ideas and colors will keep your backyard looking uniform, and avoid any messiness. It will also help you narrow down your ideas and select exactly which features you’d like to make space for. To envision exactly how your garden might look after its transformation, why not check out the best landscape design software, with programs that allow you to insert features, such as a birdbath or chair, into a virtual space so you can try before you buy. 

  2. Level up your garden 

Just because you might be restricted with the square footage of your garden doesn’t mean you have to be held back on what you can do with it. Incorporating in different levels and therefore creating various sections within your space simply works wonders. One excellent way to do this to create a sunken fire pit area, at a level below the ground height. With a built-in seating area all around, like the one below from Eric Olsen design, you create a space for entertaining and relaxing that feels like its own bubble away from the rest of your garden space. 

And you don’t need to spend thousands to recreate this lovely garden look either. Creating built-in seating from wood will be durable enough to last in outdoor weather conditions, and can be jazzed up with paint and outdoor furnishings, like these pillows from Lowe’s. Of course, to implement this idea you’ll also want to check out different firepits and find one that will keep you toasty as you entertain guests. 

3. Make sure the grass is always greener  

Luscious green lawns aren’t just reserved for those with acres of space. And freshening your grass up as summer blooms is one sure-fire way to reinvent your backyard fast. Having a well-cared-for lawn will set off whatever you choose to do in the rest of your garden perfectly, and you can get there with the help of tools like the best lawn edgers.  After you’ve whizzed around with your gas lawn mower, an edging tool can provide the perfect finishing touch to tie everything together.  

In short, lawn edgers give you a manicured finish that’s essential in small spaces, especially if you’ve chosen to create more room with the use of straight lines and by sectioning off different areas. They make your flowerbeds look noticeably neater, and will help you create those all-important pathways to and from your home to your garden. Many edging models are also handheld, lightweight, and cheap to buy, making this a totally achievable step for anyone who wants to neaten up their lawn.

4.  Add a water element  

You might raise an eyebrow at the suggestion of adding a hydrotherapy element to your backyard that is already on the smaller side. But while you may not have space for an Olympic size pool, the prospect of fitting one of the best hot tubs into your garden is not out of the question. Hot tubs are exceptionally varied, not only in the number of jets and features but in their size. One of our top-rated brands, Marquis Spas, has a triangular 2-person tub that is ideal for small spaces and unused corners. You can even have a cascading waterfall effect built-in, and soak up the relaxing sounds of running water in your backyard any time.

Small backyard ideas: Photo on two people in a hot tub outdoors

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want to benefit from the extensive relaxing effects that hydrotherapy can have on your mind and body, but don’t want to commit to installing a permanent model, then many of the best inflatable hot tubs also have brilliant two-person and smaller options. These would be excellent in the summer for creating a fun, social atmosphere, especially if you opt for a tub with features such as built-in LED lights.

5. Set the mood with solar lights 

Under the right lighting, you’ll be surprised how your smaller backyard space will begin to feel lovely and cozy. By stringing the best solar lights in your patio or seating area, you create a space that’s suited to entertaining, relaxing, or sitting back and reading a book. Whitney Leigh Morris, the blogger behind The Tiny Canal Cottage, uses solar lights and mirrors to create an ethereal-looking space, which is a world away from her before photos of her small garden.

Stringing lights across from your home into your garden space can help it all feel more cohesive, as well as integrating hanging lights from any structures, like pergolas, in your yard. Opting for more warm-toned lights is certain to create a warm, snug vibe too. 

 6. Create an oasis with plants 

As with perfecting your lawn, making the most of greenery can unleash a breath of fresh air into your yard, no matter the size. Gardening on a smaller scale is all about making smart space choices and aligning your plants with the rest of your garden’s look. Wisteria is one flower with a striking color that blooms in the shade and creeps up walls, making it great for gardens that are overlooked on both sides, whilst hanging planters (like this one from Lowe’s) allow you to still maximize floor space.

Small backyard ideas: picture of stones in patio area

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As shown on the blog Vegetarian Ventures, adding plants of the same type in pots that follow your color scheme can really bring your space together, and inject nature back into your garden space, even if you have opted for decking or patio to cover most of it.  

Molly Cleary

Molly is the Staff Writer for the Home Section at Top Ten Reviews, joining the team after finishing college. When she's not writing she enjoys baking and embroidery, as well as getting stuck into a good book. She now enjoys writing about kitchen appliances, gardening tools, and will even dip her toe into writing about fridges and ovens.