24 Small Backyard Ideas to Transform Your Space

Being outside is good for the mind, body, and soul. But did you know most of us spend over 90% of our time indoors? Perhaps it’s because we lack an outdoor space that entices us to relax, especially those of us with tiny backyards.

Thankfully, no matter how small your backyard is, it’s possible to transform it into a cozy oasis. With a few clever additions, you can create a place to enjoy some solo solitude or a social space for friends and family. Keep reading to see 24 small backyard ideas you can use to style a small-but-mighty space in no time.

Furniture

White POLYWOOD® Palm Coast Folding Adirondack Chairs Around Fire Pit
Palm Coast Folding Adirondack Chair in White

Finding furniture to fit a small yard isn’t difficult. It just takes a bit of pre-planning. Before buying outdoor furniture, we recommend doing two things:

  1. Measure your outdoor space to know how much room you have.  
  2. Decide how you want to use the available space. For example, do you love hosting dinner parties under the night sky? Or are you seeking a functional play area for young children?

Your answers to these questions will help determine the right furniture to utilize your space at its full potential. You need the perfect balance between ample seating and enough room to roam around.

1. Folding Chairs

Folding or stacking chairs are the ultimate space-saver. They are easy to use and durable, and there are so many designs to choose from. 

What’s more, they’ll give you the seating flexibility you need. You can host the occasional large party but neatly tuck the chairs away for a minimalist look in your day-to-day layout. 

2. Small Space Furniture

You can also purchase furniture specifically designed for small spaces. You still get the style you love, but in a trimmed-down version that fits cozy areas.

Find a furniture style that works for you. If you prefer to relax, consider an outdoor rocking chair set. For a beautiful, European feel, opt for classic bistro seating

3. Forego a Large Table

When styling an outdoor dining area, you may feel like a roomy table is necessary. However, maxing out a significant portion of your outdoor space with a large table may not be the right path to take.

Instead, consider using smaller side or coffee tables. They offer enough room for guests to rest their drinks without taking up too much floor space. 

Bistro tables are another option. These tall tables are ideal for small spaces and bring chill café vibes to your backyard. Add a pair of coordinating chairs, and you have a dining set that works for every occasion.

4. Avoid Oversized Coverings

Large coverings like umbrellas and overhangs keep the rain away and provide shade. But they can make an area feel boxed in, which isn’t ideal for a tiny backyard or patio. You’ll want to look for accessories in sizes that are appropriate to your square footage. 

Luckily, outdoor umbrellas and sun shades are available in different sizes and shapes. (Half patio umbrellas are a favorite among small-space dwellers.) A bit of research will help you find the option that offers protection without making the space feel too confined.

5. Try a Hammock

Hammocks are the quintessential symbols of outdoor leisure—relaxing, comfortable, and portable.

If your outdoor space has structures or trees you can use to hang a hammock, try including one in your design plan. When you’re not using it, simply take your hammock down and store it out of the way. 

Landscaping/Gardening

Vineyard Porch Rocking Chair in White

No backyard is complete without the right landscaping and garden design. Even in tight quarters, you can add potted plants or a small herb garden for a touch of green. 

6. Embrace Hanging Plants

Hanging plants are a great way to display fresh flowers without taking up valuable floor space. 

7. Grow (and Think) Up

A vertical garden is a smart way to add plants to petite patios or backyards. In addition to saving space, this living decor can serve as all-natural privacy screens.

8. Consider a Container Garden

A container garden is a practical alternative when you’re short on space. All types of flowers, fruits, and vegetables can thrive in small planters. 

Container gardens also give you a chance to show off your DIY skills. Browse Pinterest’s library of creative ideas that use easy-to-find materials (that you probably have sitting around your home), including everything from repurposed canning jars to old boots.

9. Invest in a Fire Pit

Create a warm and cozy atmosphere in your outdoor living room with a fire pit table. Various styles and sizes are made to fit small spaces, such as portable fire pits or tabletop versions.

10. Add a Small Backyard Water Feature

Water features, like a fountain or waterfall, create a peaceful focal point that can be incorporated right into your layout. Situate yours near favorite plants or in the middle of a seating area to create the grandeur of a traditional English garden, even when space is limited. 

Storage

Vineyard Adirondack Chair in Tangerine, Lime, and Aruba

Smart storage solutions are essential for staying on top of clutter—especially in frequently used, highly trafficked small spaces.

11. Multifunctional Furniture

Need a creative way to sneak in much-needed storage? Seek out chairs and ottomans with hidden compartments or use tables with shelving space underneath.

12. Compact Cabinets

Vertical or scaled-down cabinetry is another practical storage option for your outdoor space. These cabinets are typically tall and slender and provide ample space to stow pillows, blankets, tools, and small outdoor equipment.

13. Seek Storage Elsewhere

Sometimes the best storage options are in another part of your home. If you have a basement or garage, storing things you don’t use often can free up space on your patio. When it’s time to use those items, they aren’t too far away.

Decor

18″ Outdoor Throw Pillow in Safari Pistachio

Here’s where your personal style really comes out to play. Planning and styling decor is one of the most fun aspects of designing your outdoor living area, but finding decorations to fit your style and available space may be a bit challenging. Here are some helpful decor-related tips and ideas:

14. Pillows

Pillows are perfect for decorating a small area because they add form and function. You can quickly soften up a seating area by adding a few cushions in coordinating colors, prints, or textures.

15. Throw Rugs

Unrolling an outdoor area rug takes up no extra room, and it’s one of the best ways to make a space feel cohesive and complete. 

Make sure the rug you choose is large enough to fit underneath all your furniture but not so big it ends up bunched up against a wall. 

16. Paint

Using paint to add a pop of color to your home’s exterior walls, fences around your property, or stone pavers can energize the space and make it feel larger. Just be sure to choose a color (or colors) you love and incorporate it elsewhere, like with your pillows or umbrella. 

17. Decorative Stone

If your patio stones look dull, replacing them can make a huge difference. Opting for colorful stones can eliminate the need for an outdoor rug and elevate your patio’s aesthetic.

18. Vases

If you have any tables outside, vases are a beautiful, easy way to decorate. And the best part is you can fill them with anything you want, such as fresh flowers from your small garden, dried herbs, peacock feathers, or pampas grass—the possibilities are many and varied. (Pro tip: If your patio isn’t covered, make sure to choose weatherproof filler.)

19. Faux Flowers

If taking care of natural plants isn’t your thing, try using faux plants instead. They’re typically small, and a few pretty posies on tables can make the space look welcoming and cheerful.

20. Pops of Color

Incorporating color is essential regardless of the elements you add to the backyard. If your outdoor space is too one-tone, it can look a bit bland or uninspired. Adding even one main color can take your look to the next level. 

Lighting

Long Island Dining Chair in Lime and Green

All designers would agree that lighting completes a space. From string lights to built-ins, finding the perfect outdoor lights is the final step to completing your cozy backyard refresh.

21. Textured Hanging Lights

If you have room for a hanging light, opt for one that brings visual interest to your space. Large pendant lights, chandeliers, and other dangling light fixtures can act as a centerpiece that doesn’t take up valuable surface space.

22. Fairy Lights

Are you working with a limited project budget? Fairy string lights add a touch of whimsy to any space without breaking the bank. While they don’t give off much light, they’re great for adding subtle ambiance to outdoor settings. 

23. Built-in Lights

If you have a deck, using built-in lights like sconces or recessed LEDs can save space while providing ample illumination. These little luminaries come in a wide range of styles that can be integrated into your deck or simply affixed to a wall. 

24. Colorful Ground Lights

If having some fun with color is more your style, strategically placing colorful ground lights throughout your landscape design is one option to consider. Because they’re low to the ground, they cast an attractive glow around the area and help people see where they’re going at nighttime.

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