Part of the fun of landscaping your yard is that it is a work in progress. You don't have to have your landscape finished a month after you move in. Year after year you can make it more beautiful and functional as you acquire knowledge about lawn and garden design. Living in a space for a few years often provides inspiration and ideas for improving the look of your yard.
Circles and Curves
Departing from the uniformity of rectangular shapes in your lawn and garden can make them much more visually appealing. Create a small circular patio out of brick or stone pavers. Surround it with shrubs and flowers that grow tall enough to create the feel of a secluded corner. A circular lawn can catch the eye, and with the increased emphasis on water conservation in the dry regions of the U.S., the small circular patch of lawn is becoming more widely utilized to create a cool oasis. Set pavers in the ground to edge the lawn and plant a small flower bed around the perimeter. If you don't have quite enough space for circular features, semi-circles also work well. Curved garden paths make the space softer and more flowing in appearance than walkways placed in straight lines.
Changes in Elevation
Backyards that start out as flat and dull can be transformed by design features with modest changes in elevation that do not involve moving large amounts of dirt. Try putting in a raised patio with decking material. Putting the deck so it partially spans a pond can create the illusion of a lakeside retreat. A sunken patio surrounded by flowers and ground covers creates an intimate space. A raised pond, often including a fountain, provides a bold focal point for your garden space.
A Lawn That Isn't Turfgrass
Homeowners who want the appearance of a luxurious green lawn but don't want the mowing and edging chores can plant ground covers that achieve much the same visual effect as grass. An added bonus is that your lawn can send a lovely fragrance through your yard. Aromatic thyme, chamomile and mint all work as grass substitutes. Clover works well and is quite durable. These lawns are not designed to take heavy foot traffic. Place stepping stones across them to avoid damage to the plants. These ground covers are ideal for small corners of your yard where it is difficult to maneuver a lawn mower.
Arbors and Trellises
Increase the effective growing space in your yard by letting plants grow vertically and overhead, using arbors and trellises. Put a bench at one side of an arbor and you have a restful, shaded place to read or think. Arbors create natural passageways from one part of a yard to another, inviting guests to pass through to discover what beautiful plants are on the other side. Plants that require abundant sunshine can benefit from growing up high instead of on the ground where they might be shaded by taller plants. These features allow you to showcase plants with bright flowers, such as bougainvillea, or create color contrasts, such as bright pink roses set against a white trellis.