Backyard Landscaping for Beginners


You might have a big backyard but you don’t know what to do with it. It is safe to say you aren’t the only one that has that problem! A nice-looking backyard will always get compliments. But you might find it difficult to start landscaping your backyard when you approach. Where to start on your landscaping project? Or what will be a better idea about backyard landscaping for beginners?

Don’t worry about all of that! You might dream big but it is always better to start small. Getting some experience in smaller projects will always help you to understand how to do bigger landscaping projects. And if you are looking for some tips to help get you started on backyard landscaping, you have come to the right place!

Basic Design Principles for Beginners

Basic Design Principles for Beginners

Before you get to start some backyard landscaping, it is important to understand the basic principles that will help you come up with a design for your backyard. Backyard landscaping might seem like a big task, but with some basic principles, you can start thinking about ideas for your backyard.

1. Focal point

The most important thing for any design, from beginners to experts, is deciding on a focal point. Don’t know what focal point means? It’s simple! The focal point is considered the centerpiece of your design, the area that is the main point of interest in your backyard. For example, are you making your garden your backyard’s focal point or do you want to make a water fountain the focal point? This piece will be the one that grabs the attention of the viewers and holds it. As a beginner, it is good to decide what your focal point will be!

2. Line

Nothing compliments the focal point more than lines! From your entryway to the lines of the bushes and flower bed, the lines that you create have one job: let the focal point shine. And the line does not have to be straight, it can be curved as well. Not only that, but you also have to think about the vertical lines of the backyard too. The fences and walls all have vertical lines that should be considered as well.

3. Color

The color scheme is also very important. Especially if you have a theme for your backyard. Colors add variety to your backyard. Choosing the right color pattern can create focal points too, specifically in gardens. Not to mention how color combinations can help to create harmony and contrast that makes your backyard pop! A useful tip is that bright colors work well in the foreground and attract attention. Cooler colors help to blend the background. So always be thinking about colors!

4. Scale

How big is too big? It all depends on your backyard. Making a massive structure in the middle of the backyard will not look good! So it is important to understand ratios that complement the area. Some people will suggest using the golden ratio or golden triangles, but I think that’s way too advanced for beginners! That is why the next point is key for beginners

5. Simplicity

Simplicity is the key to backyard landscaping! Keeping things simple not only makes the design easier to do but also makes your backyard more versatile. Over time, a simple design can have things slowly added to make the backyard better in the future. That is why as a beginner, being simple is a good start to your backyard landscaping.

As a beginner, it is good to focus on these points first. Some of the more advanced design principles like consistency, transition, balance, proportions, and repetition are rooted in these basic principles. Therefore, knowing about these points as a beginner will help you for future more ambitious backyard landscaping projects!

Planning Your Backyard Landscaping

Planning Your Backyard Landscaping

With some of the basic principles of design out of the way, it is now time to start planning. And how you plan will determine how successful your landscaping will be. Making a good plan could mean that you have already completed a third of your landscaping!

1. Determining what you want

So what do you want in your backyard? A simple garden, a water fountain centerpiece for birds to mingle, or a patio to become a backyard sitting area? Maybe you want all three combined! Deciding on the things you want in your backyard is a good first step. This can be taken from being inspired by other backyards you have seen or you have thought up a design and want to see it for yourself. All that matters is that what you want is doable.

2. Size and location

And what makes your ideas doable is the size and location of your backyard! The size is definitely important in determining whether you can do a landscaping project or not. You can’t really make a 50-foot tall hedge maze if you have a tiny backyard. So it is all about the size. Added to that is the location. If you want to think about practicality and complementing the design, blending your backyard to match the surroundings is a good start for beginners.

3. Budget

A crucial limitation to any backyard landscaping will be the budget you have available to work with. But don’t let that limit you either! A strict budget means that you can make a simple backyard and then add to the features later. A patio or a backyard oasis might not be within your budget, so being simplistic can be a better option for you. Having some outdoor furniture with some walkways and a trimmed lawn can be just the start. Later you can add to that anything you would like!

4. Drawing up a blueprint

As with any backyard landscaping plan, making a blueprint helps when you are doing the actual landscaping. After taking into consideration of everything, draw out the plan. It does not have to be super detailed! Even a simple drawing can help with your landscaping.

5. Being flexible

A well-thought-out plan might not always go your way when you are starting to landscape. That’s okay! Plans can change and you should prepare for it! Being flexible on your landscaping will help you as a beginner as you can modify your plan midway and make it better.

As a beginner, you shouldn’t expect the landscaping to go smoothly. Even the final product might not be as you thought would be. That’s why you should go for simplistic plans so that you can execute your plan as well as you can!

Hardscaping vs Softscaping

Hardscaping vs Softscaping

A great question for beginners to know is where you should start with landscaping. Remember, you want to start with hardscaping before you move on to softscaping.

Hardscaping is doing the structure of the backyard. This is where you add the walkways, and water fountains, or make the patio or gazebo. This is preparing the focal point of your backyard. Softscaping is where you add plants and flowers. It is important to add the outline with hardscaping first! After that, you can add the plants you want so that they complement the focal point and make it shine even more!

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Benefits of a Well-Designed Backyard

When designing your backyard, you want to landscape it with a specific purpose in mind. Do you want it to be a place to sit and relax with nature? Or do you want it to be a backyard that makes it look attractive to the onlookers? Either way, there are many benefits to having a well-designed outdoor space! These can be:

  • A place to relax
  • Extra space for children’s play area
  • Reducing stress
  • A get-together spot for family and friends
  • Adding value to your home
  • Giving you more entertainment options at home
  • Building your immune system

And there are many more ways that your backyard can benefit! By landscaping it, you can personalize it to your needs.


1. What is the golden ratio of designing backyards?

It is the ratio of things that looks the best. A ratio of 1:1.6 is considered to be the golden ratio. As a beginner, you don’t have to really worry about the golden ratio. Landscape your backyard the way you want.

2. What materials require less maintenance?

Materials like gravel and stone usually require less maintenance. A garden will require more care with pruning and watering.

3. Is a drainage system important for a backyard?

Yes, it is! Especially if you live in an area where you get a lot of rain. A proper watering and drainage system helps with maintaining your backyard.

Final Thoughts

As a beginner, landscaping your backyard isn’t as difficult as you may think it may be! With a good plan and an understanding of the basic principles of design, you are already on your way to beginning landscaping. There are benefits to having a landscaped backyard as it acts as an extension of your home. So don’t be scared to start landscaping your backyard today!

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I am Donald M. Beyer and I am backyard enthusiasts. I am a homeowner who has been doing DIY projects in and out of my house for many years. From simple backyard lunches to making an old-school pizza oven in my own backyard, I have a lot of experience in turning my backyard into my and my family’s personal playground.

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