All beige everything, super-shabby chic… we can all think of a few home decor trends that were mega-popular for a hot minute, but that should maybe stay in the past – and the same holds true when we’re talking about designing your home’s outdoor space. Sometimes, ultra-trendy elements in your backyard leave it looking dated and can be a total waste of resources. To help inspire an outdoor design with some longevity, here are 15 timeless backyard ideas that will stay in style season after season. Long live the decor!
Brian McCourt is a contractor, design expert and co-host of HGTV Canada’s Backyard Builds.
Published August 2, 2020, Updated August 22, 2021
Clean, Green Landscaping
It’s hard to go wrong with a green, tidy backyard – and good landscaping never goes out of style. Unless you’re experienced (or have the resources to hire a landscaping company for an assist), your best bet is to create a simple, easy-to-maintain landscape design: perimeter garden beds around the property line can be a great way of framing in your yard.
Speaking of landscaping, it’s important to know your limits and set yourself up for long-term success. Planting easy-to-grow and simple-to-maintain plants like barberry or juniper shrubs, ferns or ornamental grass gives your backyard a green feel that you won’t regret.
A Rockin’ Garden
As much as I love a lush lawn, rocks are another classic option for lasting backyard landscaping. Whether all alone or combined with greenery, backyard rock gardens are low maintenance and versatile – and there’s something very appealing about a garden element that you don’t have to worry about watering.
A Clear Path
Design trends that stand the test of time tend to be more than just nice to look at: they also add useful function to your space. A good example of this in the backyard is a garden path. A path – whether made of classic stone, pavers or even gravel – visually defines your outdoor space, while functionally creating an easier path to walk on.
Brick by Brick
A durable material is a surefire recipe for lasting design. A good example? This curved garden path is designed in classic red bricks. Asking yourself if you can keep fake plants outside? (Here is the answer, as well as 15 more outdoor decor questions tackled).
Earth, air, fire… when you’re designing a backyard, the elements naturally come into play – and a water feature is a timeless way to incorporate the environment into your yard in a calming, stylish way. From a personalized water feature like a memorial fountain to a mini waterfall flowing into your swimming pool, water features add a zen feel and soothing sounds to your space.
On the other side of the spectrum, a fire element – from an outdoor fireplace to a wood-burning fire pit – is another backyard trend that’s sure to last. Why? More than just another example of elemental, natural design, a safe fire source adds warmth and light to your yard. For a relatively small investment, fire pits or places extend the time you can spend outdoors into summer nights and autumn days.
A Practical Perimeter
It doesn’t matter how much you love your neighbours – privacy is an absolute essential (and often overlooked) component in any backyard (especially if you love to entertain outdoors). To give your fence some stylish staying power, go for a wood design with a simple, classic look – or opt for a metal privacy solution.
Cater to Comfort
When it comes to outdoor seating options, comfort is always on trend. Even if an ultra-minimalist seat might look good on paper, a comfortable, well-cushioned chair is more likely to be enjoyed in the long run. Choose outdoor furniture made in weather-resistant materials for extended longevity. And if you want to switch things up, you can always add colourful or patterned outdoor cushions, like the striped one we used on these Backyard Builds deck chairs.
Don’t get hung up on trends: instead, hang up or place some great lighting in your outdoor space! From string lights to solar lights to lanterns, outdoor lighting is a functional addition.
is an essential component of creating a truly comfortable outdoor space. There are lots of options when it comes to shade, but a classic pergola or umbrella will always look great (while giving you a bit of refuge from the sun’s rays). For more ways to improve the use of your outdoor living space, you can watch this video for inspiration.
It really doesn’t get more classic than a garden in the backyard. Whether you opt for ornamental flowers or a functional veggie patch, a backyard garden is a trend that can give back (both to you and the environment). If you want to build a more permanent garden, consider adding elevated garden beds for more comfortable gardening, among other benefits.
Caring about the environment isn’t a trend, so incorporating materials, plants and design that help support it are choices that have staying power. When creating your backyard garden, for example, planting native plants can create enhanced biodiversity and help support local wildlife. Or by salvaging old materials into new planters or outdoor furniture, you can turn landfill-bound items into timeless backyard additions. Here are a few more energy-efficient, water-reducing and material-choice tips to help make your yard eco-friendlier.
When you’re creating an outdoor space, opting for more natural materials (like you would find in the forest) is a good way to turn up the longevity of your design. Mother nature never goes out of style.
A Place to Eat and Enjoy
In my opinion, setting up an outdoor dining space is one of the best ways to create a staycation-worthy space. To ensure it’ll last for years, outfit your outdoor dining space with good quality furniture that’s built to withstand the elements. And if your yard has a great view, position your dining area to take best advantage of it (like this Scott’s Vacation House Rules lakeside dining space) – dinner with a view will never go out of style.