Backyard landscapes vary depending on the size and shape of your yard, but many ideas can be adapted to fit any yard. Don't limit yourself to regional landscaping ideas. Even if you live nowhere near the beach, try a seaside garden if that appeals to you. However, make sure the to use plants that grow well in your climate zone.
Family Gathering Space
Backyards that will be used by a family have to accommodate several activities. Plan sections, such as a patio for grilling and entertaining with containers for growing flowers and vegetables; if you need a large span of grass lawn for playing catch or other games, create your garden beds against the perimeter; a corner playground area for children could incorporate a swing set; or you might decide to landscape a corner with informal shrubbery, such as wildflowers and ferns alongside a playhouse or tree house, to create a secret place for children. Use a mix of perennials, annuals, herbs and vegetables, depending on your family's needs and likes.
A rose garden that incorporates features such as pergolas, arches and walls is perfect for the romantic who loves the scent, color and blossoms of the rose. Incorporate varieties of roses such as bushes, shrubs and climbers and ramblers along walls and upright features and ground cover. Use plants that vary in height, type and color. Outline your rose garden with an evergreen hedge and plant bulbs and foliage plants among the roses to add visual interest. This type of landscape requires commitment by home owners and plenty of sun, shelter and fertile, well-drained soil.
An Asian-style landscape, where plants and features such as paths work together, provides a calm, harmonious backyard. This type of landscape works well for both large and small yards. Create curved flower and plant beds on the perimeter of your yard. Choose plants with soft colors, but include one or two bright spots for impact. Types of plants to use include the Japanese maple, ferns, hostas, clematis and azaleas. Use natural materials in the center of your space as pavers in a mixed pattern, maybe alternating slate rock with pebbles. Boulders and rocks are an essential part of oriental garden design. Incorporate natural features such as a water fountain or koi pond that blend into your landscape. To maintain a feeling of the natural elements, use a bamboo screen to hide a grill when not in use.
Dry or Xeriscape
A naturally dry or xeriscape landscape works well in low-rainfall or desert areas. Use plants that have adapted to the region, such as succulents and cacti, as well as sun-loving herbs, such as rosemary, sage and lavender. Use gravel as the main form of ground cover--an element in xeriscape that goes along with nature instead of against it by trying to plant a lawn in a dry area. Create a bed that will be a focus of plantings in your landscape. Use rock features in your plant beds, and add pots for some of your plants. Some xeriscapes include a water feature that can be turned on and off that plays a central role in the landscape design.