Small Backyard Design Ideas

vine leaves image by Artyom Yefimov from

Small backyards can be just as attractive as large lawns if you apply a few appropriate design concepts. Multi-level structures, water features and strategically planted shrubs or vines will all help give your small backyard the illusion of space.

Multiple Levels

Incorporating a variety of levels in a small backyard provides multiple visual dimensions, which make the backyard appear larger. Multiple levels also give you two platforms of outdoor living space. You can construct a multi-level section in your backyard by building up the soil in one place and implementing a retaining wall around it.


Building a deck is another way to add multi-level platforms to a small backyard. Decks also provide a solid, flat surface for housing patio furniture. You have a couple of options for adding a deck to your backyard; you can create a platform deck in any section of your yard, or you can construct the deck as an extension of your home. If you build the deck high enough, you can create a multi-level deck and attach a lower level.

Water Features

Water features can break up a small backyard and give the illusion of space. Adding a water fountain to the back portion of the lawn draws your eye to the deepest portion of the yard, which can make it appear larger. Water elements also create a sense of tranquillity, allowing you and your guests to relax in the backyard no matter how small it is.


Hide fences and walls with plants to help make the lawn depth appear indefinite. Thick foliage such as bushes and short trees form a natural fence line around your yard. Vines are an expedient choice for hiding backyard enclosures because they attach to the walls and expand as they grow. Choose vines that grow a lot of leaves so you cannot see any of the fencing through the vines. Encircling a small lawn enclosure with leaves will make you feel as if you are relaxing in a large, lush garden.