Picture it: the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and you’ve decided to host a backyard gathering at your house to celebrate the warm weather. But, once your guests have all arrived, you notice your beloved yard is a lot… smaller… than you’d realized.
Maybe you bought oversized outdoor furniture or let your veggie garden become an unruly mess, but even the largest of backyards can start to feel teeny-tiny without advance planning. So, before hosting that big event, consider these common mistakes that are making your backyard feel smaller than it actually is.
Mistake #1: Not Planning Your Outdoor Space in Advance
First things first: planning. The most important thing to consider when laying the blueprint for your backyard is how exactly you want to use the space. Is the focal point going to be your dream garden or a stylish place to gather with friends? If you have kids, do you need a designated spot where they can play and stash their outdoor toys?
Regardless of whether your yard is super-sized or super small, spending some time mapping it out ahead of time will make the entire process more seamless. Adding an expansive patio in already tight quarters, buying furniture on a whim or decorating the space without forethought can lead to a chaotic, cluttered yard that you might regret.
Mistake #2: Not Creating Separate Zones
It may sound strange to separate your backyard into segments, but designated zones (like a veggie garden or a hangout spot for the kids) can actually open up the space and help make your yard feel bigger.
How can you achieve seamless zone divisions? Depending on the size of your yard, create paths and low built-in walls. If your yard is already on the smaller size, clever planting strategies (flower beds, for example) and selective colour choices (think: soft shades like white, taupe, gray or blush) can help you achieve this.
Mistake #3: Not Considering Vertical Space
Making use of vertical space will help you maximize the function of your backyard. If you’re struggling to find the perfect spot for your garden, look up. Not only will you be freeing up valuable ground space, but you’ll be able to incorporate eye-catching wood-framed elevated planters that will offer a unique spin on the traditional garden. Tip: If you have a pergola, consider snaking some plants throughout – think: clematis, wisteria or honeysuckle.
Mistake #4: Not Being Strategic With Furniture Size
Avoid big and bulky at all costs, no matter how aesthetically pleasing some pieces might be. During those early planning stages, be sure to also be strategic and look for multifunctional pieces – for example, chic benches with hidden storage to hide random clutter.
Where possible, opt for narrow designs and thin frames (yes, they can be comfy too!) to keep things from getting too overcrowded.
Mistake #5 Not Planning What to Plant in Advance
Don’t just think about your patio furniture scale – the last thing you want in a small yard is an overgrown flower bed or garden. Unlike furniture, it will continue to grow and encroach on your property until you suddenly feel like you’re living out a scene from Jumanji.
If a specific plant takes your fancy, do a bit of research into how big they’ll grow. Aside from veggies and herbs, consider small hydrangeas or lovely lilac plants.
Mistake #6: Not Making the Most of Your Side Yard
Get creative and extend your fence along the side of your house and create a quiet, shaded getaway with a bistro set where you can kick back with a book and enjoy some well-deserved lounge time.
Lay down some unique stones for a pathway, add a soothing fountain or transform it into a small outdoor bar when hosting gatherings. Side yards are prime real estate, so make the most of it!
Mistake #7: Not Adding Lights to Your Space
Let there be light… in the vertical space of your yard. String lights wrapped around your pergola, strung in trees or placed along the perimeter of your fence can instantly make your backyard look bigger and wider. Not a fan of string lights? Stylish lanterns work just as well. As an added bonus for those summer parties, it can light the way for your guests as they weave from your front porch to your back patio.
Mistake #8: Over Accessorizing
Less is more – especially when it comes to choosing pieces for your backyard, from furniture to plants. Too many garden statues, couches, plant pots or decorative signs can make your yard feel itty-bitty and cluttered. Purge frequently.
Mistake #9: Not Changing the Elevation
If you’re looking for more room for foot traffic in your yard, consider raised garden beds, as pictured here, or planters (in addition to using that vertical space mentioned earlier). Or, if it fits your budget (and you want to add a little drama), hire a professional to create a sunken patio.