How do I design my backyard layout?

How do I design my backyard layout?

So, the time has come for the backyard renovation of your dreams!  Yet sometimes excitement isn’t quite enough to turn your blank slate into a well thought out and beautiful backyard layout.

We meet many clients who are looking for backyard designers near me in Healdsburg, who describe feeling stuck before they even begin.  Often they have a loose idea of what they might want to include but struggle to thread it all together while also feeling uncertain it can be installed in a cost-effective manner.

Here are 5 simple steps you can take to get the design process started.

Think about how you’ll move through the space

Most backyards have fixed exit/entry points, these could be gates in a fence, a back door, or even decking.  Each of these points presents different opportunities for design elements.  For example, a set of french doors from the living space inside the home would be more likely to lead to a patio space, than the back door out of the garage.

There might be a shady area under a tree that is perfect for a sitting area.  Think about how you might connect this to other spaces in the landscape with pathways.  Do you see yourself walking back there daily, once a week, once a month?  If you use it more frequently you might consider a more formal pathway material such as natural stone, however, a less frequently visited area could be softer and lightly blended into the surrounding plantings.

Envision the perfect day in your backyard

Close your eyes and visualize with me for a moment, what immediately comes to mind as the perfect day in your backyard?  Lounging by a pool?  Harvesting vegetables? Sitting in a vibrant flower garden flush with hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators? Playing with your kids in an open space such as a lawn?

It’s critical to be honest with yourself about what you really want out of your backyard space, and don’t confine yourself to what trends you see or how backyards are traditionally built.  Sometimes there are design needs but don’t exclude your design wants either!  This is your space to create joy in your life so be playful with your concepts!  Often less is more, so if you have a smaller space focus on a handful of key priorities and consider how some of them might overlap, such as a patio space that can entertain guests, have outdoor dinner parties, but also be a playspace for kids.

a pool with a fence and a wooden structure

Create a ‘must-have’ list

Now that you’ve envisioned your perfect day, fine tune your options by picking out items that absolutely must be included.  This could be an aesthetic choice such as certain type of tree, or stone materials, but could also be functional such as drainage or updated irrigation system.  Perhaps hosting friends for dinner is your top priority, in that case planting might take a back seat to open space.

While having a ‘dream wish list’ is great to remain inspired, it’s also critical to know what landscape features are requirements of the project.  If your backyard floods then you clearly need to address the drainage before building a patio space! If you have an irrigation system that is in shambles then investing in planting doesn’t make sense until you’ve updated the irrigation which will keep it alive.

Make a rough sketch of your backyard space and then incorporate your wish list and must-have elements

Don’t worry too much about it being pretty or perfectly scaled.  Roughly sketch out your backyard space and start placing your wishlist items onto the page. Sometimes cutting out bits of paper to represent different landscape elements that you can overlay on the original sketch helps you try out many ideas without having to redraw the whole thing each time.

Consider how various placements of certain landscape elements could be advantageous compared to others.  For example, if there is a tree that provides afternoon shade, you might consider a seating area or patio space in that shade and put plantings in the sunnier areas.

Or perhaps you want an outdoor dining area for entertaining guests, you might consider locating it near an entry to that house that leads to the kitchen or nearby for ease of transporting food and utensils in and out of the home.

If you want a vegetable garden, we also recommend keeping it close to the house so that when the time comes to cook and you need to grab something it doesn’t feel far away and you’re more likely to hop out and grab them with ease.

a bench in front of a house

Hire a professional backyard landscape designer

Designing a backyard can be fun but also stressful. How can you be sure you’re choosing the right materials, being cost efficient, or haven’t overlooked a key structural element like drainage and irrigation?  Hiring a professional designer can alleviate this stress and present you with ideas you might not have ever thought of.

Even after trying these steps out some people still feel a bit lost and would benefit greatly from a design professional with fresh eyes and vision to imagine how a space could be transformed.  If that’s you, don’t be hard on yourself or let the project overwhelm you!  Reaching out to a local designer who can help you would be your next best step and you’ll soon be back to finding joy in the process.

Our design team at Inspired Landscapes have been working in landscapes of all shapes and sizes for a couple decades and this wide breadth of experience informs the suggestions we give to our clients.  Whether your backyard is a postage stamp, or a large lot, we will work with you to create your wish list and develop creative ways to unite your vision, budget, and space resulting in that backyard of your dreams.  Think back to how you felt imaging your perfect day in your new backyard, let’s work together to make that feeling a reality! Contact us today for backyard designers in Healdsburg at (707) 395-7474.