The big cities have a lot, but they miss the spatial backyards of the villages. The designers who work with apartment owners of compact apartments in highly populated areas such as San Francisco and New York have specialized in converting smaller, narrow or clumsily organized spaces into comfortable and functional extensions of the living area and enhancing the small backyard.
The ideas for small backyards developed by architects
the Small backyard ideas apply to all cases where you want to functionally enlarge your outdoor area and create a place to relax. Try these 26 ideas.
Functional ideas for a small backyard
1. Divide the small back yard into smaller zones or rooms. Create a strategic division of functions using built-in facilities and furniture that delimit different corners for dining, recreation and cooking. This Brooklyn, New York backyard has all four zones.
2. Implement a small lighting design
This place in a small backyard has a varied lighting scheme. The sconces serve many functions, such as illuminating the grill, the landscape and the planting, as well as general ambient lighting. At the same time, hanging lamps are placed over the dining area.
3. Extend the interior space
The architect Carson Arthur may ask customers what interior space seems too small to them and then he establishes the majority of that space in the backyard. Is your kitchen too small? Or do you need a larger family room? With the development of outdoor technologies, anything can be done indoors.
A small rug here helps establish extra living space in a small backyard in Detroit.
4. Complete the interior
Use the same colors and style you already have indoors for the small back yard to make it look more like your own living room. ‘Stylistically, you want to capture the colors and textures that connect the two spaces,’ says Amber Freda, a landscape architect in New York. ‘Make more than a pair of chairs and a table. A simple dining table with wooden chairs will not entice you to use it, but a really comfortable lounge will ‘.
5. Play with the angles
If you have a small, square, little back yard, landscape architect Rich Radford suggests flipping the flooring across from the apartment to create more landscape space. In the backyard with dimensions of 8-9 meters, he moved the paving at 45 degrees in order to achieve more space.
6. Be careful with the rule
If you have a small yard, the last thing you want is to cram it with a dining table that seats ten. Instead of that, consider the options for something built-in or pull-out. Likewise, you don’t want a plant that grows 30 meters high and completely conquers the room. Here Radford has worked skillfully with small, local plants to keep the feeling of freedom.
7. Use only one material for the surfaces
If you have multi-functional zones, use the same material to unite the spaces.
‘The small rooms need this connection,’ says Arthur, who designed this 17 x 7 meter room for a family with small children. A specific play zone keeps the kids close while the parents have fun, and the unbroken line of flooring unites all of the zones.
Radford even goes further by suggesting that we use the same material that we used for all of the other surfaces in the apartment. For one of his courtyard projects, he used the same covering material as in the front entrance way. “A united space has been created that visually enlarged the courtyard,” he said.
8. Avoid the clutter
The more elements your yard has, the narrower it will be. Instead, try using built-in seating, incorporate clean lines, avoid too much furniture, and control the planting. ‘If something goes out of control in the backyard and takes over the small space, there’s always a plant that’s too happy,’ says Arthur.
Freda agrees: ‘Avoid the mish-mash effect,’ she says. ‘Instead of having 20 small flower pots, only grow 5 for a better impression through cleanliness. Just take two or three types of plants in a couple of colors – this will make the atmosphere look less chaotic and confusing.
To get as much out of this 7 x 6 meter wide backyard in Toronto, architect Erik Calhoun built high decks over the very tall roots of a tree. He saved the large plants in order to secure more recreational space. ‘The bushes or hedges would take three feet and people couldn’t move around here,’ he says.
9. Enclose the room
That can sound opposite when you want to enlarge a small room, but the idea can be helpful for your room. ‘If you limit the small area more, you can achieve coziness and intimacy,’ says Arthur. ‘That can also take the environment to the next level where it looks like a room outside.’
Pergolas are perfect for creating a feeling of intimacy, but you can achieve the same effect by planting them. The architect Gary Beyerl’s backyard is 3 x 6 meters wide. Because he has apartment elements that are fixed to the house, he wanted to design something that could afford him privacy. He used vertical plants like Trumpet Flower and Cercis canadensis to form a packed zone. ‘By expanding the plant zone along the vertical surfaces of an urban space, you can see great benefits for yourself,’ he says. ‘I have a green environment, even if it’s small.’
10. Be considerate of the sight
If it is not so pleasant, Beyerl recommends using various control elements. His favorite elements are the grilles. In his Chicago apartment, he used them to block the sights of the infamous cable network through the city’s avenues. ‘The grids give you the benefit of perception,’ he says. ‘They hide the sight, but let the light and wind come freely. The bars seem less depressed than the fences.
11. Include contrasts
‘Always think about interesting contrasts,’ says Freda. Mixing squares and rectangular shapes with oval shapes will give a good result. Place plants with spiky leaves next to those with wavy leaves. ‘The visual effect is better than when everything is the same,’ says Freda. ‘If you have a square surface, I will place the plants in the same shape, but with a round table in the middle for counterpoint ‘.
12. Don’t overdo it with care
One of the good things about small backyards is that they’re easy to clean up. But don’t just be busy! Arthur suggests using more plant containers than soil. ‘Otherwise everything will be conquered from your farm,’ he says. ‘The flower containers will keep the warmth of the plants, but with light care’.
The local succulents and grasses reduce the water supply, but you should also be considerate of the artificial turf. ‘They retain the color and character of the mini garden better than the natural ones,’ says Beyerl. San Francisco designer Martha Angus used artificial turf in the back yard, shown below, and also recommends boxwood. ‘The boxwood hedge should be 45-60 deep,’ she says. ‘That takes up too much space. The boxwood comes in squares with a depth of 8 cm and can easily be pinned to a fence. They are very beautiful, do not need any water or space ‘.
13. A terrace on the sloping surface
Angus’ project here highlights another good method of enlarging the small backyard. If you have a heavily sloping yard, demote. ‘In principle, this process costs a lot of money,’ says Angus, ‘because you want to build an additional structure to support the terrace. But after that you will have a lot of surface for activities ‘.
14. Personalize the room
In the small areas the character of the garden is very important. You want something that people don’t keep because of dimensions. ‘It’s more important to give character to the small square,’ says Arthur. ‘You don’t want the guests to say:’ Oh, what a small backyard ‘, but you want to take some of the atmosphere of this place for yourself’. Arthur suggests using basic colors not only for children’s elements but also for funky furniture to give the room more charm. Angus recommends hiring a local artist to create a tile design on the wall or floor.
15. Build a focus
The focus is one of the most interesting Small backyard ideas, because it draws attention away from the dimensions of the backyard. Arthur loves the water elements. He even added a plant container, right in the center of the room, so that the audience’s eyes can look there and the walls optically retract. Art and sculpture can do a lot. ‘A single sculpture with lighting can be phenomenal,’ says Angus.
16. Let the design help
It doesn’t look like it, but actually the small rooms are more difficult to design. A professional trained in such rooms can meet your demands and needs
Calhoun suggests looking for a specialized architect who will find the right approach to your unique space. Is there a lot of sun there? Rain? Wind? ‘You want someone who knows all of philosophy,’ he says. ‘A landscape architect who is only professional in land-garden construction will do the same to your case, but that will not reflect the specifics of the building. Beyerl suggests trusting a team of professionals. ‘Designing rooms is an architect’s job,’ he says. Then a carpenter can add the design finesse. And a landscape architect will only take care of the plant containers.