Ways to bring your backyard to life

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What you need to know:

  • Knowing what you intend to use the backyard for will guide you in making the right choices regarding furniture, lighting and the greenery. Mix and match grass, graveland other greenery.

A well-maintained backyard is a great asset for any home. Depending on the size, this space can be used for entertaining guests, a play area for children or a sanctuary for quiet evenings.  Oscar Makumbi, a landscape designer, says with some creative ideas and planning, one can create a backyard that is both functional and attractive.

“While designing the backyard one should have an idea of what they want their space to look like as guided by its purpose. A backyard meant to be a play area for children requires a different design from one that serves as a family dining area for instance,” he says. 

The expert lists the basic things one should focus on when designing their backyard.

Make an outstanding entrance

Giving your backyard an entrance creates a sense of drama and expectation, according to Makumbi.

 “Because it is what people will see first, make it as grand as you possibly can.  You can use nature such as a beautiful rose covered gate or climbing vines such as honey suckle to decorate your entrance,” he says.

 In addition to the entrance, create walkways that are both safe and pleasant to look at. 

“You can choose to use pavers or pebbles for the walkways. These will eliminate dust and mud when it rains. For aesthetics, line the pathway with colourful flowers and provide lighting for night use,” Makumbi says.

Choose the right combination

The right combination will give you both functionality and aesthetics. Knowing what you intend to use the backyard for will guide you in making the right choices regarding furniture, lighting and the greenery.

Using different textures in small yard landscaping creates visual depth, which can help make your small yard seem bigger and it also allows you to play with a wide range of landscape styles throughout your yard.

Mix and match grass, gravel, mulch, and other greenery to break up the space and create a unique outdoor space. 

Flowers and plants

Having different types of plants will create interesting layers. Trees can be great for small yard landscaping, especially ornamental or dwarf species of trees.  Plant tall trees and shrubs at the back of the yard or along the property line to create privacy, shorter shrubs around the stairs, plants and flowers towards the front of the yard.

The plants should be of different sizes, shapes, textures and colours.

“Place those with wide leaves next to those with slender, spiky leaves, and those with bright green leaves next to those with different colours or darker leaves.

 Choose plants that fit the size of your yard. If you plant seedlings or young trees, shrubs and plants, consider how large they will get when they reach maturity. If you plant the wrong size plants, it will create constant care and maintenance problems,” he says.

Before planting,study your backyard; look for sun and shade areas, fertile soil, adequate drainage, pest problems and any existing landscape conditions that may impact growth and maintenance requirements.

Plan for shade

One of the benefits of a backyard is the provision of a cool shade, especially during the hot season.

“Plant trees that provide shade. Trees not only create comfortable shade, they also give your house a look of permanence and provide more privacy. Trees, whether tall or small, create good scale, height and depth and create impact in your yard,” says the expert.  He adds that trees provide interest, shape, texture and colour throughout the year.

“If you plant two or three trees, harmonise the shapes of the canopies with landscape plant such as round, pyramidal and vary the size and shapes of leaves,” says Makumbi.

Choose furniture

Outdoor seating is one of the most important functions of a backyard. Look for the furniture that is appropriate for your style.  Outdoor furniture such as benches, rocking chairs, and hammocks are all fantastic pieces that enable one to create great space for family and guests to sit and relax. For shaded backyard spaces such pergolas, one can use an outdoor rug.  Not only is this a good way to include a pop of colour in your backyard, but it is also an affordable way to make your space more comfortable and welcoming.


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