A simple backyard can provide a place to relax after a long, hard day, or a space to entertain friends. Go from bare to brilliant with a little hard work, and transform your backyard into whatever fits your lifestyle best--from a soothing shelter to a festive showplace. You can do most backyard landscaping yourself or with the help of a few friends, and most projects take just a single day.
Pavers, Borders and Retaining Walls
Pavers are cement bricks or slabs. Patio pavers are strong enough to hold the weight of people standing and walking across them. Brick or stone pavers are heavy and strong enough to create walls to hold back earth. For small backyard spaces, choose a single color or pattern for your path, patio or wall. Varying patterns and colors in large spaces creates a more comfortable visual focus to certain areas you want to highlight.
Ponds and Waterfalls
A pond, waterfall or combination of both adds a spectacular focal point to your backyard landscaping. Choose the size of the water feature so that it does not overpower the space and is easy to keep clean.
Bushes and Trees
Bushes create a visual barrier. Trees, as well as bushes, make very good weather barriers, too. They can block wind and blowing rain or snow from entering backyards. Bushes along the wall of a house also help provide insulation from blowing wind.
Pagodas and Gazebos
Pagodas and gazebos provide a comfortable place to sit and also create privacy and shade. In cooler climates where some sun helps create additional warmth, pagodas allow the light to enter from the top while still giving partial shade.
Jacuzzi and Pools
For the ultimate in relaxation, add a pool or backyard Jacuzzi. This is one area where a professional installation is a good idea. Pools must be perfectly level or they might crack. Remember, however, you will have to pay for the chemicals to keep the pool and/or Jacuzzi clean. The larger the body of water, the more chemicals you need.
Pick a theme for your backyard. For a Southwestern theme incorporate pastel colors, straw and hay bales, clay-colored cement or brick, and saddlery hardware for accents. Bonsai trees and Japanese-style lanterns will give your backyard space an Asian feel. The more uniformly themed your accents are, focusing tightly on one particular style, the more cohesive and pleasing your design will be.
Fireplaces and Fire Pits
An elaborate outdoor fireplace is a beautiful addition to your patio or pool area. Even a small fire pit is a comfortable, warm place to snuggle on a cool fall evening. Both fire pits and fireplaces are simple to build with a few bricks and a little muscle.