While grass usually dominates most backyards, many other plants can add beauty and functionality to the space. Growing these plants is not much different than growing plants in a regular garden. These plants need all the soil and sunshine of regular garden plants. The only differences lie in how the plants will be used in the backyard.
Some backyards already have trees growing near them and the backyard design is planned around these trees. Other backyards have enough space to have new trees planted. A tree shouldn't be planted unless the conditions for the tree are ideal, since some trees have a hard time surviving in the early stages of growth. Although trees are often chosen based on aesthetic preferences, some trees that look attractive can be difficult to maintain and get rid of, such as with poplars. Plant bushes and shrubs based on their intended use. Some bushes function as a living fence, while others are chosen for particular qualities of the bush itself, such as height, color and shape characteristics, or resistance to pests, disease, deer or rabbits.
How the plant reproduces should play a role in which plants are chosen. Annual plants might only last one year, but some are so successful at reproduction that they might be difficult to get out of the yard. However, this reproduction might be considered beneficial since backyard gardeners will continually get new plants every year. Perennial plants tend to spread and sometimes have to be pulled when they spread into areas of the backyard where they're not wanted.
Annual plants are smaller, so it's easier to grow them wherever you want in the backyard. They can also be put in a pot on the patio or back porch so they can't spread. Several different varieties of annuals can bloom throughout the spring and summer. Perennials, on the other hand, bloom at various periods and usually continue to take up space after they have bloomed.
Annual plants can add a lot of color to a backyard and can be the plants that draw attention to the space. Perennials that prefer shade can make shady areas look better by providing plants that replace the grass. Well-chosen trees and bushes can also add a lot of beauty to a backyard---especially when designed to complement each other.
Just like with gardens, backyard plants need nutrients in order to grow healthy. Compost, peat moss and organic mulch can create an environment where the plants keep returning every year.