11 Simple Outdoor Living Design Tips To Add Backyard Spark

little girl cartwheel backyard

If your backyard seems a bit dull, then summertime is the perfect season for dressing things up. You don’t have to be a master landscaper to add a little zing to your outdoor spaces. A few decorative tricks and smart additions can make a monumental difference in just a few hours’ time.

1. Shed some light on the subject

Lighting is easily neglected in outdoor spaces where you can rely on natural light during the day. Brighten your summer evenings and create a space that you can use any time of the day or night with well-placed backyard lighting.

Tuck decorative solar lights into the garden to illuminate special highlights, like a water feature or sculpture. Place low lights along pathways to guide wayward feet. Add electric lights overhead in a covered porch, or use wall-mounted lights along the side of your home. Install a dimmer switch for mood lighting.

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2. Add some movement – literally

Movement adds visual appeal. In this case, we’d be talking about actual movement – yours! Adding a sense of movement may involve the big tree in your backyard some rope, and a seat. But, not necessarily. You can also think about a porch swing, or a hammock, or even a hanging chair. There are a lot of ways to add a sense of movement to your space. Including yourself in that movement makes it even more dynamic.

3. Re-imagine your shed

Sometimes it’s the most obvious element in a backyard that holds the key to a vital transformation. Maybe er-thinking your shed it just the thing.Sheds can be places where clutter gathers. But, they don’t have to be. Maybe your shed is a hobby room in waiting, or a workspace, a rehearsal space for your musical pursuits, an art studio, or a play area for the kids.

Maybe it’s time to replace your existing shed to make room for these things, or others, that are most important to you. Whatever the case, your backyard should reflect your life, just as your indoor space does.

wood shed with window

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4. Turn your patio  into a morning room

Patios and patio furniture can be elements that aren’t given much thought, and can be a bit generic and blah. But, when you add a specific human activity to their presence, your patio can really come to life. One idea to accomplish this  is the creation of an outdoor morning room. Morning rooms are designed to be peaceful spaces to sip coffee, read the paper (or articles on your smartphone!), and prepare yourself mentally and spiritually for the day to come.

Re-positioning your backyard  in the summertime as a place to center yourself  helps you to sharpen the focus on your life day to day. And it’s a way to increase the personal value you’ve got in your backyard, too. This makes spending time there to be more meaningful, adding meaning to how you define your home as a whole.

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5. Create a rock garden

Another way of adding visual interest and spark to a backyard is to very the sense of texture you’ve established in a backyard. Creating a rock garden helps to visually break up the less interesting expanse of lawn that is typical of many backyards.

Map out space in your yard, and pay a visit to your local nursery or landscaping center. Choose the stones and gravel that contrasts with surrounding colors and textures, or with each other. Think about earthenware pots, sundials, birdbaths, and other elements that can also be a part of a rock garden. This could be your way of creating an important focal point in your outdoor space.

6. Create a path

Even if your backyard isn’t exactly an expansive stretch that you’d explore for hours on foot, a path can provide important visual flow for the eye. A path can be created in numerous ways, whether its by using pavers, or wood chips, gravel, or even upcycled items like bottles.

stone garden path

Whichever materials you’re thinking about, creating a path from point to point in your backyard, no matter the size of the yard itself, is a great way to tie that space together, to unify it. And from here, it opens up the possibilities for other elements that you may think about adding later on.

7. Learn about local plants, and add them to your garden

Like you did with your shed, looking at what’s around you might be the simplest way of adding visual interest to a backyard. But, unlike that strategy, your local plant life already thrives naturally. Do some research about local flora. Visit your local nursery again, and talk to the experts.

Local plants require low-maintenance, require less watering (and therefore less water usage!), and exhibit a wild and unique beauty of their own. A wild species of flower or bush can be the perfect accent piece for some visual spark in your backyard.

8. Embrace a sense of whimsy

Don’t be afraid of the quirky! Give your backyard a whimsical feel by adopting unusual planters and eye-catching decorations. Purchase antiques or other used items to serve as the foundation of your garden design. Use old tubs, sinks, boots, and barrels as planters both on the porch and in the garden.

Hang antique signage as well. Add intriguing sculptures amid your plants. An eclectic collection of one-of-a-kind pieces will give your yard appeal that you can’t find in any big box store.

9. Make art!

Embrace your artistic streak, or at least commission it from members of your household if you’re not artistically inclined yourself. Art is the expression of life, and that’s really what we’ve been talking about all along.  Add murals to fences, to house exteriors, to specially installed blackboards.

Play with colors and contrasts. Play with themes. Make your space your own through color, line, and shape. Tell a story using art, and visual interest will follow.

10. Landscape for colorful creatures

Bring special visitors to your yard with landscaping that caters to certain critters. Plant tubular flowers for hummingbirds and hang a few feeders about to supplement the nectar. Bring butterflies to your backyard with plants like mistflowers, phlox, zinnias, and butterfly weed. Many fruit trees attract butterflies as well, some of which are partial to the rotting fruit on the ground.


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11. Set up an outdoor movie theater

Although this might sound like an expensive idea, it’s actually fairly simple to set up your own private movie theatre in your backyard. All you’ll need is a screen, projector, audio system, lighting, and seating.

Screen: You have a couple of options when it comes to your screen. If you have an uncovered white/off-white wall, you can simply turn your projector towards it. You can even buy a white shower curtain and attach a curtain rod to the bottom to keep it weighted down, also allowing for quick and simple storage since you can just roll up your screen when you’re done.

Projector: This is where the size of your screen comes into play. If you have a large screen, you’ll want a higher resolution. You can really spend as much as you want on your projector, just make sure it suits your needs.

Audio: Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need surround sound or a fancy home theatre set up for your backyard movie theatre. Just get an old stereo receiver or sound system. Check craigslist for cheap DJ speakers.

Lighting: Fortunately, if you’re using all the ideas on this list, you’ll already have beautiful lighting in your back yard. If not, it’s as simple as setting up a string of lights across the lawn.

Seating: Whether you use blankets and chairs or decide to get more creative with cushions or hammocks, seating is another easy thing to check off your list.

New space, new life

These quick and affordable additions can give your backyard space new life, and they’ll help you to create a welcoming backyard area that will just beg guests to sit down and stay for a while. Get to work updating your yard now.

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