Turning your outdoor space into an eye popping, fully functional, luxurious space takes extensive research and careful planning. In most cases, where utilities are being laid and concrete is being poured – there is no turning back on your layout. These 9 must-know backyard design tips will be essential to assist you through the design stage.


The beauty of sprucing up your backyard is that you spend more time outside in nature. But, you need to plan so that it works in your favor. Many outdoor meals are enjoyed around sunset- remember that when you determine the location of your eating area. If you plan on building an outdoor kitchen, the sun can be brutal as it reflects off your shiny stainless steel appliance. To mitigate this, a darker, less reflective surface for your countertop may help minimize the glare coming from your outdoor kitchen.

The grill master of the house may find themselves spending hours grilling up meat at a party. Make their job more enjoyable by positioning the grill so their back is not faced to the guest. The grill master will feel less like a slave on the grill if they are enjoying their time socializing while preparing the food.

No matter how functional you think your outdoor kitchen is, you will find yourself going back and forth between your indoor kitchen. You will appreciate a shorter distance when you’re running to your indoor kitchen for the BBQ sauce. You’ll also want to make sure that the smoke draft from the grill doesn’t go back into the home. Observe the general wind pattern in your yard and place the grill appropriately.


Whether your space is small and intimate or large and spacious divide your backyard space into different zones for the various activities that you have in mind. DIYBackyard Planning design planning with spray paintAs an example, you can mark the boundaries and location for the outdoor kitchen, seating area, fire pit, TV enclosure, eating table, etc.When marking off the zones, take care to ensure that your friends sitting around the fire get to view a pleasant landscape. Sometimes, a simple fence may mar the beauty of the natural landscape.  Plan in such a way that the individual zones complement one another. During the initial design phase using spray paint to mark off the outlines in the dirt for the different zones is very helpful to get a clear picture of the layout and the walk-way space that lie between the zones.


Once your backyard haven is complete you will see it from several different angles including through your indoor windows. For the harmonious layout that you would eventually want to carry from your indoors to the outdoors, it is important that you have a complete vision of what you want to see from the main viewpoints. You can decide whether it is the fire pit or the seating area; it would certainly not be the post of your gazebo. All the same, those in the sitting area of the backyard should also have a pleasant view, like overlooking the flowerbed, a lily pond or other attractive features opposed to your fence.


Even if you are dealing with a smaller space, traffic flow and pathways between fixed items need to be allocated. Don’t forget to leave space around your fire pit for comfortable chairs. If you plan on entertaining, you’ll need additional seating and want a table nearby.


Gazebos, and pergolas are a welcome escape from the sun’s rays on hot summer days while enhancing the appearance of your backyard. If enclosed by airy curtains they offer privacy and allow for creation of intimacy. DIYBackyard Planning Gazebo & PergolasIn hot regions an overhead fan or mist sprays are nice added features to cool the space. Colder regions may opt for a heat lamps, a fire pit or fireplace to warm up the area.If you plan on installing an outdoor grill under a structure, be sure you allow plenty of clearance space between the grill and the ceiling for ventilation. If you opt for an open slatted roof such as a pergola you can add translucent fiberglass to shelter the area from rain without blocking the light.


Outdoor lighting plays an important part in creating the right ambiance and setting the mood. DIYBackyard Planning Low voltage lightingIt also amplifies the décor such as highlighting a water feature and it defiantly ups the safety factor for walkways, staircases and grilling areas. For outdoor kitchen, lighting under the countertop adds a great customized lighting accent. Installing accent lighting under your gazebo roof really sets the mood when the sun goes down.


It is only natural that you are going to want to add some elements of entertainment in your backyard such a TV.  DIYBackyard Planning Outdoor TVHowever, it is important to make sure the TV is placed in a cabinet well protected from the outdoor conditions. Plenty of people opt for dragging their TV out to the backyard every summer evening but that isn’t a long-term solution and just seems so inconvenient. Having a TV in your backyard brings endless party ideas. The obvious – game day but don’t forget other exciting  possibilities … a kid’s campout and movie night, a chick flick and champagne with the ladies, or a romantic movie and a soak in the hot tub.


Electrical, gas and water is essential to having a fully functional dream backyard and is crucial to plan for early in the design phase. Knowing these connection points when considering the location of your outdoor kitchen, outdoor TV and fire pit are vital.   If you want to simultaneously use both a grill fire pit the pressure and gas line size should be careful considered. A convenient element for most outdoor kitchens is a sink, which will require running a plumbing line.

TAKE IT IN STAGES (if you would like…)

If you’re on a budget and want to build your outdoor living area in stages, it is recommended that you have the compete layout planned before you set up permanent structures. This would allow you to organize and run the utilities especially if you plan to pour concrete.  Once it’s planned out you can then take on one project at a time.

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  • I loved that you mentioned the pathways for designing a backyard. My family and I finally moved to a house with our own yard, and I want to beautify it. I will have to hire a local service to help me out.

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