18 Backyard Landscaping Ideas for Creating the Most Relaxing Hangout Spot

backyard fire pit sitting area
Photo: Mike Jensen

Need backyard landscaping ideas for creating a space you love to hang out in? It's all about choosing the right plants, hardscaping, and other landscape design elements. Whether you have a small backyard or lots of room to work with, these landscaping ideas will help you make the most of it.

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Let Garden Pavers Do Double-Duty

backyard stone patio with outdoor seating
Dan Piassick

A few well-placed pavers are a simple backyard landscaping idea that you can DIY. In this backyard, squares of flagstones separated by ribbons of turf serve two functions: A bold garden walkway and mini patios that can handle additional outdoor seating.

02 of 18

Add a Water Feature

backyard garden stream and waterfall
Mike Jensen

Water features such as a fountain or small waterfall offer relaxing sounds while attracting backyard birds and other fascinating wildlife. And if your backyard has drainage issues, a water feature could help solve the problem. Here, the homeowners turned a low, damp spot into a landscaping focal point with a waterfall and stream.

03 of 18

Hide Eyesores Creatively

backyard deck area with assorted shrubs and trees
Edmund Barr

It's hard to believe, but the only view this backyard once had was of an old, oversized shed door falling off its hinges. Instead of living with the eyesore, the owners removed the door and covered the opening with a series of vintage shutters. They also added a pretty, weatherproof table that does double duty as a plant stand and an outdoor buffet for food and drinks when friends stop by for a backyard party.

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Soften Your Deck

backyard garden deck stairway
Marty Baldwin

Improve the view around your deck by surrounding it with planting beds to camouflage the leggy supports. Here, a six-foot-wide flower border hides the deck's underbelly and adds tons of color through the summer. Plus, ornamental grasses, sedum, black-eyed Susan, and other pretty perennials provide plenty of screening.

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Elevate Your Lawn

backyard tiers garden seating
Chipper R. Hatter

If you have a blank, flat backyard, consider giving it a dramatic makeover. After the homeowners developed a more dynamic backyard landscape design centered on a two-level lawn, this previously drab space was given a new feel. They also planted a living screen of lush tropical plants that provide a sense of enclosure and privacy to the space.

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Make a Grand Entrance

patio backyard entryway with flowers
Laurie Black

First impressions count. That's why it's essential to pay special attention to your backyard's entry. Nothing ruins the view faster than a rusty gate or muddy path. An oversized rose-covered arbor and stone patio create an elegant and welcoming doorway for family and friends in this gorgeous garden.

07 of 18

Create a Cozy Backyard Corner

backyard garden seating area
Bob Stefko

Get up close and personal with your plants by tucking in a small sitting area amid the beds. Here, a cozy corner was created with an angled trellis and a pair of Adirondack chairs. The tall trellis also does a good job hiding a utility pole on the nearby street.

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Hang Curtains for Backyard Privacy

home exterior back deck seating area
Erica George

Instant privacy! That's what you'll get when you add curtains to your deck, patio, porch, or pergola. On this colorful deck, weatherproof outdoor curtains were hung on the pergola to create privacy and add protection from the sun. The curtains also help block the wind, so food and drinks don't blow off the table.

09 of 18

Install a Reflection Pond

backyard seating next to stone pond
Andreas Trauttmansdorff

Try this no-fail small backyard landscaping idea: Make long, narrow spaces look larger than they are by seeing some sky in a reflecting pool or pond. The homeowners added a 6x4-foot stone water feature that doubles as a seating area in this slender landscape. They also used a black pond liner that reflects the clouds overhead.

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Add a Pergola

backyard landscaping garden seating area
John Granen

When designing your backyard, remember that pergolas and arbors are often more effective when used as a stand-alone architectural element. Here, for example, a pergola constructed of thick black timbers makes this small seating area look like an art installation. Tight wire cables strung across the top of the pergola are strong enough to support heavy vines.

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Sink Your Patio

backyard brick patio with outdoor furniture fall
Bob Stefko

There's something especially inviting about a sunken garden or patio. Consider carving out a section to create a private retreat if you have a sloped backyard. Here, the homeowners terraced their backyard hillside and added a brick patio below grade level. A stacked stone wall keeps the hillside in place and provides extra seating.

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Build an Outdoor Fireplace

outdoor comfort fireplace living area
Alise O'Brien

Extend the season for outdoor living by adding a fireplace to your backyard. This open-air living room can now be used almost all winter long once the family starts a roaring fire. And, during the summer, when it's too hot to light a fire, the fireplace acts as a gorgeous stage for a variety of blooming potted plants.

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Make a Multipurpose Area

backyard fire pit sitting area
Mike Jensen

The best backyard landscape design ideas are those that can have multiple uses. Here, the family added an inviting stone and concrete patio below their deck. One end of the patio has a seating area surrounding a fire pit. There's additional seating next to an above-ground spa at the other end.

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Grow Your Own Food

backyard garden path to greenhouse
Peter Krumhardt

A sunny backyard is perfect for creating a food garden as attractive as it is edible. A series of raised beds were created from repurposed cobblestones in this narrow backyard. Gravel paths make maintenance and access to the beds a snap. The galvanized water trough in the center of the garden is home to aquatic plants and offers a handy spot to fill an occasional watering can.

15 of 18

Replace Lawn with Flowers

backyard brick path garden bench archway
Robert Cardillo

If you love flowers and hate to mow, get rid of the lawn in your backyard and divide the space into beds and borders. Most of the lawn was removed and replaced with brick pathways that divide a quartet of small edges in this exuberant garden. A smaller fifth bed with a sundial sits in the center. A rose-covered arbor and bench act as a romantic focal point.

16 of 18

Place a Backyard Pavilion

backyard tent seating area
Marty Baldwin

Do you have a wedding, graduation, or family reunion on the calendar? If so, you might want to consider adding a pavilion to your backyard. Available at many garden centers and home stores, pavilions are easy to install. They'll quickly transform a backyard into a romantic hideaway or crowd-pleasing entertainment area. Once erected, the pavilion can be left in place, removing only the fabric when the season comes to a close.

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Include a Stylish Shed

small shed brick path to arch trellis garden backyard
Alison Miksch

A backyard garden shed is convenient for storing tools, equipment, and pots. So why not build or buy a wooden shed that you can customize to meet your needs? They can include a potting bench, a storage area, and even a spot for entertaining or relaxing. Plus, you can paint them to complement your home. A small shed with French doors becomes a garden focal point in this pretty backyard.

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Fence In Your Yard

backyard white fence entry way dog running
Lynn Karlin

When landscaping your backyard, don't forget about keeping furry family members safe. A sturdy, escape-proof fence with a latched gate is a good way to go. Make sure the fence is tall enough to keep your dog from jumping over. Here, a vinyl, chew-proof picket fence encloses the backyard and keeps the family pet confined when needed.

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