Landscaping Ideas for a Back Yard

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail© 2008   by Raymond Alexander Kukkee  
"Think utility and purpose, not just beauty."    
Creative  landscaping of a back yard demands a different focus than the typical  "curb appeal" landscaping of a front yard.  Adaptation to your specific lifestyle,  the optimum and practical utilization of space,  and most probable future uses should all be carefully considered when planning landscaping for your back yard The provision of  atmosphere,  the clever use of  limited space, and the insertion of unique character are all features  that  will enhance  your personal space,  and  should  be the prime objective as you plan the back  yard. In practice, a back yard is generally intended to be a location of privacy where the stresses of everyday life can be ignored. A  back yard is a place to relax.  To  enjoy life to the utmost  with the ultimate big back-yard landscaping budget, one might consider a small ground-level  flagstone or even concrete patio, a swimming pool, a sauna, a hot tub, an elegant raised deck, and a huge barbecue station. Visual and functional accessories such as greenery and walkways may become simple  accessories planned around those major focal  points.  Since in the majority a limited budget may  preclude  high-priced installations,  let us also give thought to landscaping budget ideas which may be successfully used  on an average, or even tiny landscaping  budget.  Landscaping ideas are endless, and although clearly limited  by budget, they are more so limited  by the  imagination of the homeowner.   A minor, relatively inexpensive accessory such as a covered, swinging lawn seat can become a major point  of  physical comfort for  relaxation-- as well as a visual focal point.  Landscaping can be carried to the extreme, as shown in this photo:
A Landscaped Back Yard

1.0            A Magnificent Landscaped Back Yard

  Think Utility and Purpose, not just Beauty. A compost bin built of old, heritage timbers can become a rustic  focal point of interest rather than the common plastic compost bin eyesore if you are considering utility and purpose of additions to your back yard. Utility does not have to be plain, drab, or ugly. Your back yard can, above all,  be unique.  Consider some of these ideas for landscaping your back yard. Build unique, interesting walkways out of natural, flattened stones, or use old bricks and pavers from a recycling facility.  Crush dry mosses and sprinkle the fines over the walkway spaces and water it; allow it to grow and fill in for a beautiful, moss-patterned effect.  Coloured, inexpensive concrete pavers can be used to build a simple patio.     A single, extraordinary natural rock can become a point of discussion and instill wonder in the beauty of Mother Nature, and a bed of like-sized pebbles or rocks can provide interesting accents. A functional retaining wall built of natural rock can easily become an incredibly attractive rock flower garden.  
Retaining wall -Rock Garden Beauty

Retaining wall -Rock Garden Beauty

 
Modest Patio built with Concrete Patio Pavers

Modest Patio built with Concrete Patio Pavers

  Instead of a huge, raised deck  in a smaller yard, consider a small, round or angular on-grade natural stone patio, where a modest barbecue might sit in the wonderful shade of red oak, white ash, or sugar maple trees.     Consider the growth habits of any trees planted; a tree with a strong, long-lived growth habit will not have to be pruned annually to keep the yard free of branch debris. Do consider the life span of any trees planted. If you have no interest in raking leaves at all, install evergreens; use cedar, blue spruce, and pines. If so inclined, consider fruit trees, which are not only beautiful in spring with flowers, but offer healthy, natural food and coloured leaves in the fall. For very small back yards, consider bonsai  or potted trees. Such trees can be magnificent and a wonderful focal point. Indigenous species from your geographic area can and will survive for many years as bonsai with adequate care. Consider Spruce, pines, larch (tamarack) conifers and birch, maples, willow,  oak, and apple trees for deciduous specimens. Very large pots can be used. If you have children and pets, do consider building a safe play area, including some plain climbing bars, a slide, and perhaps a simple sand pit built of four pieces of timber. Consider including an area to be reserved for a small wading pool, but placed in a location where it may be easily observed in use at all times. If you have mature trees, a simple low-hanging rope and tire swing is an inexpensive attraction that children will love. If your lot is smaller, but not level, consider constructing stepped retaining walls with inexpensive timbers; build wide terraces in alternating steps to obtain the optimum use of space,  which may include some garden planting area for fresh vegetables. A rustic wooden picnic table and rough-hewn benches could invite the weary to sit and enjoy small, compact flower beds of perennials, each coming into  bloom in turn. Consider plantings of peonies, irises, phlox, tiger lilies, day lilies and variegated ground covers for low maintenance areas. For additional shade, consider planting lilac, spirea, and snow-ball bushes, each of which displays magnificent blooms. For bushes, use directional, selective pruning to direct growth of bushes into spectacular, gnarled, and ancient-looking attractions. Ordinary lilac can be pruned into a spectacular living, gnarled focal point of extraordinary  beauty. For lawn areas, use durable grass species for high-traffic zones.  In  hot season areas  consider drought-resistant types of grasses such as Bermuda grass or Bahia grass. Keep lawn areas limited in size  as much as possible if other activities are desirable; a small basketball court with backdrop and hoop can provide endless hours of pleasure to the sports-oriented family just as a larger, inexpensive above-ground pool might provide relief from the heat for a family of water-sport lovers. Provide bike storage areas for the active biking family to avoid the clutter of bicycles parked along the house. Install hooks on garage walls to hang bikes up out of the way, or install a bike storage rack. For additional features,  use bird baths and bird feeders to visual advantage.  The presence of birds in a natural setting is peaceful and accents a limited natural setting. Use silvered, old lumber to make bird houses and feeders; install them, smaller bonsai, and flowerpots  upon  "monkey-posts" of various heights for visual accent and appeal. For small areas, use open-weave fences as much as your desire for privacy will allow. Open fences make a smaller space appear bigger, and beautiful fences do make good neighbours. If the yard size allows it,  install a split-rail fence for a focal point, which also can be used to segregate and delineate special purpose areas such as gardens. Using some of these ideas may encourage similar or alternative ideas of your own; do not be afraid to experiment,  be creative and enjoy inexpensive landscaping at it's best for your back yard. ##   Is that Incoming I hear?   1.      photo credit:    Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic 2.      photo credit:   wlk photography 3.      photo credit    Wikimedia Creative Commons .Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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