The typical American home has increased in size over the years, and, with this shift, the backyard has subsequently shrunk. Although it varies by state, the average yard in the United States is now around a quarter-acre, making anything less, by definition, smaller than average. However, working with less square footage doesn’t mean you have to do less when it comes to your renovation.
Below are four ways you can upgrade your small outdoor space and guarantee a welcoming and relaxing environment that suits your needs.
1. CREATE AN ILLUSION.
You may already be familiar with the idea that adding height gives the impression of more space. This principle is often used in interior decorating, but the same can be applied when updating your backyard.
Installing a tall fence can be particularly beneficial in urban environments. Here, yards are often stacked one on top of the other, but height can be utilized to create dimension regardless of your location. If you’re worried about the fence looking too harsh, opt for natural materials like cedar, redwood, or teak, and incorporate greenery or vines throughout.
If you have a little more space to work with, consider installing a pergola or another tall, decorative structure over the seating area. Most retailers sell pergolas in a variety of sizes, so you shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding one that suits your yard without overwhelming it. These structures are perfect for hanging lanterns on or wrapping with string lights to increase ambience and evoke the feeling of a much bigger space.
2. CHOOSE FURNITURE WISELY.
When you have space to play with, you can go big with furniture. However, when space is tight, it’s important to consider the amount of surface area that seating and tables will consume. Instead of going with a clunky metal or glass table and chair set that’s hard to move, choose pieces that are easily collapsible and can be moved out of the way for more standing room when needed. Natural wood or faux wood folding Adirondack chairs are a great option, as they are stylish, can be easily upgraded by adding colorful cushions, and fold up in a snap.
Make use of small folding tables as well, which can accommodate a variety of arrangements. These tables should be big enough to hold a few drinks, yet small enough that they don’t feel out of place with the minimalistic seating.
A cantilever umbrella is another good investment to provide your yard with adjustable shade. Home Depot has a great tool that allows you to search for umbrellas by size, ensuring the umbrella you choose won’t overwhelm your yard and seating area. Cantilever umbrellas, in particular, are perfect for small yards because they are freestanding and can be angled up or down to protect most of or part of your yard from the sun.
3. HIDE HARD SURFACES AND ADD GREENERY.
A backyard devoid of greenery doesn’t feel like much of a backyard at all, but a lush setting can be hard to achieve, especially if you’re in a city environment with little to no grass. Instead of installing faux grass, create the feel of nature with natural- or neutral-colored rugs. If you’re going with a pattern, diagonals can have a lengthening effect on a space and draw the eye outward.
You can also add greenery by investing in easy-to-care-for plants that are well-suited for the climate you live in. (For instance, palm trees look pretty, but if you live in upstate New York, you might have a hard time keeping them alive). Costa Farms is a national plant retailer that ships plants direct to consumers. Its website has a Plant Finder feature, allowing you to search based on very specific criteria, including the plant type, lighting, and even personality, helping to ensure you choose the perfect plant for your outdoor space.
When adding plants and flowers to your small yard, it’s important to make sure the greenery is balanced and that it doesn’t overshadow any other decorative features. Keep large-leaved plants toward the perimeter, and disperse smaller plants or flowers throughout the rest of the spaces.
4. THE PIÈCE DE RÉSISTANCE.
You might think that because your backyard is small, there’s no room for recreation. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth; all you have to do is think outside the box. There are plenty of extras that can prime your space for gatherings, including a small firepit, lawn games like jumbo Jenga, and even an outdoor bar.
Think about the kind of gatherings you like to host, and make sure you have the tools to make it happen. You don’t have to go over-the-top, either. All of the aforementioned items can be created yourself or purchased relatively inexpensively, but they will have a big impact on the ambience of your backyard.
Written by Alexa Bricker