A person's home is his castle. Designing a backyard is a matter of personal taste and design, imagination and of course, budget. However, by carefully looking at your yard; its size, shape and terrain, homeowners can come up with wonderful landscaping ideas that offer a wealth of opportunity when it comes to plants, pools, spas, lawns or garden opportunities.
Determine the size of your backyard, either by eyeballing it or using a measuring tape. Determine what kind of space you have to work with before planning designs. Then ask yourself what you want. Whether you want a flower or vegetable garden, a deck, a pool or a tennis court, you have to determine whether your yard is big enough to allow these things. You'll also have to carefully assess the type of property you have. Is it long and narrow or wide and deep? Is your yard located on a hillside or on the beach? These kinds of questions will help determine what might be feasible and what may be impossible.
Draw a diagram of your backyard and imagine how various areas might be used for different activities or functions. For example, that nice shady area in the rear corner of the yard might be the perfect location for the kid's playhouse, while that strip along the western fence line might be the perfect spot for a flower garden. Determine what areas of the yard will be used for play or placement of sheds, or for those weekend barbecues that encourage family get-togethers.
Think about the types of shrubs, flowers or trees that will do well in your location. Whether the backyard is sunny or shady most of the day should determine what types of plants you purchase for landscaping. Take notes for several days to determine what part of the yard gets the most or least sunshine, where rain puddles, or other environmental factors such as wind that might affect the growth of trees, shrubs or flowers.
Discuss options with all family members. Dad might want a brick barbecue area while the kids want a sandbox and Mom wants enough room for a vegetable garden or raised deck for entertaining. Negotiate whenever possible to ensure that everyone has some space of their own in the backyard, even the family dog. If you want to plant trees, determine their placement, and consider how their roots will grow. You don't want that tree you planted to start lifting the fence, or the corner of your or your neighbor's house, years down the line.
Consider backyards you admire. Backyard planning takes time, so don't rush into making decisions. Take everything into consideration, from size, climate, type of property and what you want before making a plan. If you're planning on any structural additions, pools, decks or spas in your backyard, contact your local city or county building department to determine laws and regulations about such home improvements, as well as the need for building permits.