50 Small Backyard Landscaping Ideas That Will Transform Your Space

Small backyards are just as great as huge backyards. While you might not have as much space for grilling, lounging, or playing as you would in a big backyard, you can still make the most out of your postage-stamp space by using it wisely. You can transform it by using clever landscaping tips and ideas which will help you use every inch of grass and pavement that you own. 

These small backyard landscaping ideas will prove that you can have everything from rock gardens to Buckingham-Palace-worthy rose beds to charming lounging areas as long as you plan it out appropriately. You can make your small backyard feel bigger by incorporating certain plants and trees, and you can make it feel more organized by sectioning off space with hedges or iron arches. If you have a small plot of land and have been itching to give it a makeover, then you have come to the right place. Ahead are 50 of the most clever landscaping ideas for small backyards. 

1. Surround yourself with lavender

It's possible to create a welcoming atmosphere in your backyard, even if you have very little space to work with. Choose plants that are known for their scent, like lavender, to make the small yard feel cozy and delightful. Be sure to plant your lavender in an area that receives full sun.

2. Add short hedges

Make your small backyard feel bigger by dividing it into different spaces using small hedges. The hedges will help you create an organized and tidy space and allow you to carve out a garden area that is separate from a lounging area.

3. Surround the space with shrubs

If you don't want to commit to watering flower beds in your backyard weekly, then swap out the flowers for leafy bushes. Even though your space won't be a burst of colorful blooms, the different shades of green will create a peaceful space. Layer different heights of shrubs together to create a bushy yet inviting garden. 

4. Create a focal point

Make your small backyard feel like a palace courtyard by swapping out your grass for pebbles and creating a floral focal point in the middle of the yard. To get this look, add your choice of flowers in stone planters in the center, and incorporate stepping stones that ring out from the centerpiece.

5. Create designated quarters

While you can use small hedges as previously mentioned, you can also designate quarters throughout your yard by building a fence or two within the space. Create little "rooms" throughout with one section for your vegetable garden, another for your flowers, and another for a quiet lounge area. 

6. Add statement flowers

If you like to keep things simple in your backyard, then focus on choosing one statement floral shrub, like a hydrangea bush, potentilla, azalea, or a blooming rhododendron. It will instantly attract the eye and bring something special to the space.

7. Layered landscaping

Create a sense of cohesiveness and outline your backyard with layered landscaping. You can include tall bushes in the back, a line of colorful flowers towards the rear, and colorful foliage plants. This will add depth and visual interest to your small space.

8. Add cobblestone pathways

Make your small backyard feel like an English garden by adding cobblestone pathways. To really make the space feel cozy, flank the path with blooming flowers. This will give your yard a rustic yet quaint feel that's perfect for a quiet stroll.

9. Create a small blooming garden

While it might sound counterintuitive, filling a small space with oversized items can help make the area feel bigger. Try planting tall firs and large rose bushes into your small garden to create a statement backyard.

10. Avoid straight lines

Make your small backyard look more attractive by carving out rounded edges and bowed corners to plant in. This will make the space feel more natural and look more appealing than planting flowers in straight lines along the fence.

11. Create a relaxing vegetable garden

Turn your backyard vegetable garden into a charming focal point by adding a wire arch. You can also add a bench, stool, or other seating options as well. Your vegetables' foliage will envelop the arch, creating a relaxing spot to sit in. 

12. Create a Japanese garden

If you don't have a lot of grass or soil to work with, transform your backyard into a Japanese garden by incorporating bamboo, stone, and perhaps a lighting element like lanterns. You can also add a water fixture as well as a path leading up to your quiet haven.

13. Fire pit garden

Everyone loves gathering by a fire pit, so make that the focal point of your small backyard. Add landscaping around the lounge area by planting leafy bushes, blooming rose bushes, and metal arches covered in vines. You can add seating in the form of benches, Adirondack chairs, or other outdoor lounge furniture. 

14. Create an organized vegetable garden

If you want an elegant yet organized vegetable garden, try building vegetable beds out of brick rather than wood. The brick will add interesting visual appeal and will also help ensure your plants remain safe from foot traffic. You can also swap out the grass for beautifully paved sidewalks, stones, or gravel.

15. Colorful backyards

If you love lots of color, then create a backyard filled with annuals and perennials in rioting hues. These fun splashes of color will energize your small space and make it pop. You can try planting zinnias, pansies, hydrangeas, petunias, dahlias, tulips, or marigolds. 

16. Plant blooming rhododendron

Add lots of drama to your backyard by planting a large bush of blooming rhododendrons. These blooms are easy to maintain and will add an elegant burst of color to make you feel like you're in a botanical garden. If you have pets however, you may want to think twice before planting as rhododendrons are known to be extremely toxic to our furry friends, per the American College of Veterinary Pharmacists.

17. Create a privacy fence

If you don't have a lot of room in your backyard but want to make it feel quiet and personal, then make the most of your space by planting an attractive privacy fence. Use thuja to block out any surrounding neighbors.

18. Create a floral arch

Bring a touch of whimsy and romance to your backyard by creating a floral arch that will welcome you as it sits at your gate or patio entrance. You can use flowers like clematis, climbing hydrangeas, wisteria, or ivy to adorn your garden archway.

19. Outline your house with flowers

Transform your backyard from drab to charming by outlining the side of your house with bushes and flowers in one single hue. Choosing just one color for your flowers will look neat and uniform while drawing the eye toward the lovely pops of color throughout the space. 

20. Add an explosion of roses

One of the fastest ways to add a touch of class to the side of your house is to plant an explosion of roses in the tight corridor. You can start planting as soon as the threat of frost has passed but be sure to choose a spot that gets at least six hours of sunlight each day.

21. Plant trees

There is something special about a backyard with trees, even small ones, so if your own backyard doesn't have a tree, consider planting one. You can then set up a table and chairs underneath it for a charming dinner spot or plant some shade-loving plants around the base. 

22. Create a hummingbird corner

Turn your small backyard into a fantasy land by planting flowers and shrubs that attract hummingbirds. You can also section off the small garden by flanking it with wooden pathways. Some flowers that hummingbirds love include zinnias, salvias, bleeding hearts, trumpet creepers, lupines, and petunias. 

23. Create a vertical garden

Make your fence work for you by transforming it into a vertical garden. Attach small pots to the fence, and plant everything from herbs to vines in the planters. You can choose to plant anything from ferns, succulents, begonias, and pothos, to spider plants, strawberries, basil, and chives. 

24. Landscape near your deck

If you're lucky enough to have a deck in your small backyard, then make the space feel more inviting by planting leafy greens around it. You will love watching your flowers bloom and shrubs grow from the comfort of your deck chair.

25. Create little islands

Make your backyard stand out from the rest by creating small islands of flowers and shrubs across your lawn. These small pops of colorful blooms will create a beautiful and unique touch to your space. Create uniformity by planting the same shrubs and flowers on each island, or mix it up and add some variety. 

26. Create a moon garden

Create a moon garden in your backyard surrounded by white flowers that will glow underneath the moonlight. You can also include flowers that bloom at night such as four o'clocks, evening primrose, or angel's trumpets. Include some large white stepping stones as well as white gravel to add a unique touch. Finish your moon garden by adding some well-placed lanterns or fairy lights.

27. Add a small pond

You don't have to live near a lake or ocean to enjoy the water. Simply install a small pond in your backyard! While this option will require some upkeep to keep it clean, it will add some quiet elegance to your yard. 

28. Add planters

Add some symmetry to your backyard by planting your flowers inside a row of identical planters. It will add a cohesive aesthetic and a modern touch to your space. You can choose to plant the same flowers in the same color in the planters for true uniformity, different colored flowers of the same species, or incorporate completely different flowers in each planter. 

29. Create a secret garden

You don't need a lot of space to turn your yard into a secret garden. In fact, a small space lends itself perfectly to the sense of quiet solitude that encapsulates this peaceful oasis. You can create a pathway lined with beautiful flowers and shrubs that lead to a small sitting area surrounded by various flowers to give it a cozy, insulated feeling.

30. Add a bench

Make the most of your backyard by transforming it into a place of relaxation. Dedicate a spot to a bench, and then surround it with leafy bushes and growing vines. You can also install a soothing water feature if you have the room.

31. Insect repellants

Surround your seating area with plants that help repel pesky bugs like flies and mosquitoes. Citronella, lemon balm, and marigolds grow well in containers or landscaping beds. If you want to create space that does double duty, plant aromatic culinary herbs like basil and rosemary that you can harvest as needed for meals. Even catnip is a good choice and your kitties will appreciate this addition to your outdoor space. 

32. Structural boxwoods

Add artful interest to your garden by planting boxwoods. These hardy shrubs can be pruned into different shapes, which you can leave to the professionals or take the time to learn this new skill. Whether you like vertical spirals or neat round circles, boxwoods are as flexible as you are creative. Use one or two of these natural sculptures as a focal point, or add a whole row for a fence. 

33. Add some shade

Even in a small garden, a space that is overwhelmingly sunny can be unusable during the hottest part of the summer. There are many ways to add shade, but for a simple and inexpensive DIY project, you can install a shade sail. These items come in different sizes and can be attached to your home or posts to provide shade anywhere you need it. Shade sails come in multiple sizes in square, rectangle, or triangle shapes. 

34. Pollinator paradise

Make a section of your backyard an oasis for pollinators by planting some of their favorite sources of nectar. Host plants for butterflies include dill, parsley, and passionflower. Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds all appreciate zinnias, hyssop, and coneflowers. Choose a selection of wildflowers appropriate for your region to attract the most pollinators and make sure you have a variety of plants that bloom from spring through fall. 

35. Install hardscaping

If weeding, mowing, and pruning is not your favorite task, a small backyard with a lot of hardscaping can save a lot of time and energy. This is a particularly good option if you live in a region that experiences frequent droughts. Hardscaping includes anything that is not plant-based, like patios and other structures, as well as walkways. Consider combining river rock with ornamental grasses for a drought and weed-resistant landscape. 

36. Plant bird-friendly trees

Backyard birders can attract even more of these feathered beauties to a small backyard without taking up too much space. Holly trees and bushes are a favorite of the stunning cedar waxwing, and many birds enjoy crabapples throughout the season. Neither of these trees gets very large at maturity, and there are cultivated and native varieties available to meet your specific space requirements. 

37. Raised beds

In spaces where the soil is less than ideal, raised beds can offer a beautiful place for fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers without digging through compacted soil or rocks. This type of planter also adds height and interest to a small backyard with the flexibility to plant almost anything you want. And for those with mobility issues, raised beds make the joy of gardening more accessible. 

38. Support monarchs

Anyone with just a little outdoor space can help support monarchs by planting milkweed, the host plant for these beautiful butterflies. Create a safe corner in your yard to provide food for monarch larvae and help increase their dwindling population by selecting milkweed varieties that are appropriate for your region. Many types of milkweed are hardy throughout the U.S., but be sure to check your USDA hardiness zone and select the best option for your yard. 

39. Create an outdoor kitchen

Sharing a meal in the beautiful outdoors with friends and family is easier when you are not constantly making trips back inside. Create your own mini outdoor kitchen with a grill, a surface for food preparation, and a small refrigerator. You can even build your own sink or purchase one made for camping for a fully functioning kitchen outside. 

40. Add a fountain

The sound of flowing water adds to the serenity of being outside, but it doesn't have to be fancy or expensive. You can make your own simple fountain with a cheap solar water pump, which requires no electricity or water connection. Or, you can purchase a premade fountain to install anywhere you have space on a wall or in the corner of your patio. 

41. Memorial space

Sometimes it's nice to take a moment to spend time fondly remembering loved ones and pets that have passed on. You can create your own small memorial space in your garden by placing a sitting area in a pleasant spot in your yard. This is a wonderful place to add memorial plaques, stepping stones, or statues. Any time you need to get away, visit your memorial garden to take a few deep breaths and express gratitude for those you have loved. 

42. Create a yoga space

If you love yoga and have a flat, unused space in your backyard, create your own private space to practice. Combining the relaxing elements of yoga with fresh air and the sounds of nature can compound the benefits. Those with noisy — or nosey — neighbors may not benefit from an outdoor yoga spot, but if you have a bit of privacy and a quiet neighborhood, you can make your own dreamy space for your daily routine. 

43. Space for a hammock

Spending a lazy Sunday afternoon at home is even better when you have a comfy place outdoors to snooze or simply relax. There are many types and styles of hammocks from which to choose. If you want to cuddle with your partner, double hammocks are available. Regardless of if your style is Boho or you adore bright stripes, you'll find something you like. And you don't need trees to have a hammock, some styles come specifically made to use with a freestanding frame. 

44. Make a reading nook

Reading nooks are not just for indoor spaces. You can create a cozy spot in your yard by adding a hanging chair from a tree or reclining in zero-gravity outdoor seating.  You just need a comfy seat in a shady spot. You can add a few outdoor pillows to curl up with as you enjoy your favorite pastime. 

45. A place for pets

Dogs need to potty somewhere, but that doesn't mean they have to go everywhere. Make the most of your small yard by designating a space for your pup to do their business. With a little time and training, you won't have to worry about stepping on something unpleasant while enjoying your outdoor space. And, you can keep your yard looking lovely since you won't have to deal with spots of dead grass. 

46. Use vines to hide an unsightly fence

Perhaps you love your yard, but you're stuck being surrounded by an ugly fence. New fencing is pricey, but you can save money by hiding it with vines. Perennials like coral honeysuckle or clematis are beautiful options, although they take a while to grow. You can combine perennial vines with annuals like scarlet runner beans or morning glories to get privacy this year as you wait for long-term coverage. Not only will you replace your unsightly fence with beautiful greenery, but you will also get some extra privacy.

47. Take the dining room outside

Expand the size of your home by putting a dining room on a covered patio. You will need a seating area along with a weather-resistant cabinet to use as a buffet for serving and storage. This is a fun way to get creative in your outdoor space using old furniture that is painted or sealed to make the area feel extra cozy. 

48. Make a year-round space

Enjoy your yard year-round by adding propane heaters near your seating area. The days may grow shorter in the winter, but that's just more time for stargazing! Imagine yourself curled up on your back porch with a cozy blanket, a heater, and a nice cup of cocoa as you enjoy the beauty of a crisp evening. 

49. Add a gazebo

If your small backyard is lacking a covered space, you can add a gazebo to make it more useful on sunny days. They are also nice to have if you are planning an outdoor family get-together and the weather does not cooperate. There are gazebos to fit any budget, from a basic canvas-topped option available at most big box stores to a handcrafted one built by a professional. 

50. DIY stepping stones

Stepping stones are a great way to establish paths in your outdoor space. Sure, you can buy plain pavers at the store, but you can also make your own fun and unique stepping stones. This is a fun project for older kids and adults. Add colorful stones, paint, handprints, and words to wet cement in a mold to make family memories a permanent part of your yard.