Even if you have a small back yard, with careful planning you can create a lawn area for all your needs. Your lawn can serve as a spot for children to play, a gathering space for guests or simply a quiet retreat to watch nature. Assess your property to determine the best area for each activity and plan accordingly.
Make Garden "Rooms"
Create distinct garden "rooms" on your lawn, and make every part of your back yard perform a function. When landscaping your lawn, think of what activities are most important to you--such as eating outdoors, entertaining guests, inviting nature, playing games--then plan areas to meet those goals.
Lawns are ideal for children's play and sports. A small lawn may not be large enough for a game of football or baseball, but can provide room for a round of badminton, simply by stretching a net across the middle. If you are a golf fan, you can install a putting green in your lawn. All that is required is a wide, flat spot. You can even add a sand trap to improve your chipping.
Add a Focal Point
A focal point creates visual interest in your lawn and provides structure to a small back yard. The focal point you choose can reflect your interests. There is garden statuary available to suit every taste. If you are a nature lover, you may wish to adorn your lawn with a bird bath or water feature to attract birds and other wildlife. Garden centers sell quick-to-assemble kits for ponds and fountains. If you prefer to use your lawn for entertaining, consider adding a fire pit, surrounded by comfortable chairs, to the center of your lawn.
Walkways give your lawn a finished look and are useful in frequently traveled areas of your lawn. Such paths draw the eye and protect your lawn from damage. You will particularly want to lay a path between your house and shed, or house and garage. Walkways can be as simple as laying down stepping stones 3 to 6 inches apart. More elaborate walkways can be constructed of granite or brick.
Just because your back yard lawn is small doesn't mean you can't enjoy trees. Trees are important in yards of every size, both for the shade they provide and for the wildlife they attract. ThisOldHouse.com recommends the following trees for a small yard: common witch hazel, paper birch, weeping birch, eastern redbud, mimosa, smoke tree, serviceberry, red buckeye, dogwood, Japanese cherry, Japanese maple, globe blue spruce and dwarf Alberta spruce.