Landscape Design Tips to Make Your Backyard Feel Bigger

As landscape experts, SkyFrog has seen its fair share of backyards. Many are overgrown, unplanned, and often small spaces that leave homeowners longing for more. Apartments, condominiums, and even single-family homes often have backyards that are cramped, impractical, and that owners wish were larger. So how can you maximize your space, aside from moving to a new home? How can you make your small yard feel spacious and inviting? Read on for our best tips to beautify and make the most of your yard.

Create Zones

Plan your spaces by zone. Having distinct areas in your yard opens up the space and makes it feel bigger. Establishing an area for the garden and another for entertaining or relaxing can separate your yard and add purpose to each space. For patio furniture, keep in mind that less is more. So as not to overwhelm your space with visual clutter, keep smaller pieces with see-through patterns, which lets the eye travel further. Also, store unused items in the garage. Removing unused sheds or storage bins will make your yard look larger and more streamlined.

Change Elevation

For example, by elevating your dining area you can designate spaces, making the yard feel bigger. In addition to creating separate zones in your backyard, vertical elevation changes can add visual interest. Try sinking a conversation pit around an outdoor fireplace to create more space for plantings or seating.

Maximize Vertical Space

In small backyards, height is your friend. Making the most of vertical spaces can add to the illusion of more space while adding interest and character to your yard. An added bonus — you won’t be taking up precious real estate on the ground. To make the most of your space, try adding elements such as the following. 

  • Arbor
  • Pergola
  • Hanging swing
  • Hanging baskets
  • Wall-mounted or fence-mounted flower pots
  • Vertical gardens

Natural Light

One of the simplest ways to open up your space and make it feel larger is to trim back overgrown shrubs and tree limbs that may be blocking sunlight from entering your yard. An unobstructed view provides continuous greenery that can seem part of the same landscape. It will also allow for more sunlight, which is needed for adding pops of color through container gardens or flowerbeds.

In line with making the most of your natural light, when possible, skip the fence. Your yard will appear bigger if the eye can take in the plantings and trees beyond your property line. If you must, privacy plants are a great option for creating a softer boundary for the eye to see. 


Hardscape elements like an outdoor fireplace can create more space for seating, which can transform your space into a backyard destination. This goes hand-in-hand with creating purposeful zones in which you can relax or entertain guests. Create an outdoor room or kitchen with a nicely arranged patio set and grill. Not enough room? Try a simple reading nook or bench surrounded by fragrant flowers or soothing sounds of running water from a fountain to cater to your senses. 

Limit the Lawn

Contrary to what most people may think, limiting the actual size of your lawn can be beneficial. Instead of opting for the largest amount of grass and lawn space possible, try filling it with plants, flowers, and other focal points. Bonus points if you create zones, opt for elevation changes, and utilize vertical spaces, as discussed earlier.

Side Yard

An often overlooked and neglected piece of real estate, side yards can be used for more than just garbage can storage. Don’t ignore this space! Precious square footage can expand usable space and allow for winding paths, herb gardens, or even a seating area for morning coffee. 

Trick the Eye

Speaking of winding paths, using winding and curving lines can add depth and dimension to an otherwise boring space. Instead of a straight path through the yard, create a long curving path or curved landscape edges instead of straight lines. Curves add movement and open up the space. 

Picking the Right Plants

Choosing plants that offer color and foliage year-round can add life to your backyard when winter hits and many plants go dormant. Container gardening is another great way to keep color in your yard and add texture. For added texture, the proper arrangement of flowers and plants can create an illusion of depth. For eye-catching plants, check out our plant palette for ways to add texture and interest to your landscape.

When choosing plants, consider the growth and overall size of your yard. When it comes to trees, choose trees that grow up instead of out. Taller, thinner trees such as certain evergreens or dwarf shrubs can give you a lush look without eating up all your space.

Invest in Long-Lasting Design

Whether you’re a landscaping novice or master designer, everyone can use a little help planning out their backyard spaces. Choosing to invest in professional landscape and design will take your outdoor spaces to the next level, helping you enjoy your yard more for longer. When it comes to designing a beautiful and creative plan to incorporate elements like audio, lighting, and hardscape features, call on the experts at SkyFrog Landscape for your free estimate and to get started today!