How To Design Your Ultimate Backyard Retreat

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We all love to spend time outdoors, but what if you could have your own private backyard retreat and share your outdoor living space with friends and family? Transforming your backyard not only enhances the beauty of your home, but also increases the value of your property. Designing your ultimate backyard retreat can be a fun and exciting process.

When you’re looking at your backyards possibilities it can seem overwhelming as to where to begin the process. By starting with a plan of what you’re ultimate retreat will look like you’ll have a good visual, and sometimes a plan might be done in phases based on wants and the current budget.

Depending on how large your backyard is and how big of a transformation you’re looking to create you might need to contract some help with the final design and installation. Or if you have a small backyard and you’re planning to DIY the project, it’s always best to have a solid plan so the end results are perfect. We’ve provided a step by step guide of backyard design plans and strategies that will help you design your very own backyard retreat.

Make a List of Landscape Layout Goals

The first step to designing your ultimate backyard design is to make a list of the landscaping layout goals that you want to achieve. This includes things like design themes, yard size considerations, and purposes for the space.

Are you looking to achieve some privacy from neighbors with a fence, or several outdoor use spaces like a patio and vegetable garden, walkways, or stone walls, leveling a slopping area etc. Your list might change along the way but go ahead and write everything down and adjust with tradeoffs at some point as needed.

Evaluate your Yard’s Square Footage

Before you begin, evaluate your yard size so you can properly plan the design. Consider how much room you have, the position of your home, and whether your yard is flat or sloping. Use this information to determine what features will fit and where they should go. Sometimes depending on challenges with the current landscape a good chunk of your budget could go towards leveling your property or adding a privacy fence.

So, decide the area in which you’ll concentrate to achieve your goals from step one. If it’s more important to have a smaller area that’s well designed vs fixing an area that takes much of your budget, then scale down to what’s most important for now.

Make a Wish List of Must Haves

Once you have an idea of what you want to achieve from your backyard space, begin a wish list of all the things you would like to have. This can include items such as a patio, vegetable garden, border gardens, a fire pit, a water feature, a barbeque area, or an outdoor lounge space with new furniture. Keep in mind what is realistic to achieve and what your budget will allow for.

At this point you’re just creating a list on paper as you haven’t figured out costs yet. But why not write down everything you would want in your design even if you realize it may not happen all at once.

Decide your Landscape Style

Choose the style of landscaping that best suits your home and its surroundings. You want your end design to be cohesive and not a mixed matched design. So, from everything from the permanent features like patio block, a pergola or decking materials and final plant and tree choices; they should all be planned around a particular style. It may be a cottage style garden look that contains wood features and lots of flowering gardens.

Or are you more streamlined and contemporary and want a minimal look with modern furniture and designated features with plenty of negative space. Choose your style and remember style when making purchases so that everything looks cohesive. Review any landscape challenges when deciding on a design style.

Check out online images of design ideas for creating a focal point and general backyard landscaping ideas from outdoor kitchens to seating areas and dining areas to get a feel for what you like and don’t like.

Choose The Product Features

Decide on any features that you would like to add to your backyard oasis, such as a pergola, outdoor walkways, a patio, water feature, and so on. Choose features that are complementary to your home and garden, and also consider how the features will be used.

Hardscapes- Choose your stone patio blocks or stone walls, pathways or firepit materials.

Structures- Choose fencing, arbors, pergola, gazebo, or pavilion styles.

Plants & Materials- Choose what type of trees or plants, water features and mulch types.

Lighting- Choose outdoor lighting options and placement.

Draw a Map And Price-Out Products

Draw a map of your backyard design, outlining all the features you plan on adding. A landscape designer can help with this task, or you can draw it out yourself using graph paper or an online app. Ensure that everything is accurately measured and placed on the map before proceeding to the next step.

Now you have a list of all the products and designs that you want for your backyard design and a visual map to see how the final layout will look. Begin gathering quotes for products, labor costs, or hire a designer who will take over and schedule the costs and timeline for you.

Decide on the Budget

Determine what your budget is for your backyard renovation. Talk to a landscape designer or gather quotes for materials and labor to get an idea of the costs involved or a DIY timeframe. This is where you might have to make changes to your plan of action. If the costs are on spot with your budget, you’re ready to okay the final design and begin the process.

On the other hand, if you’ve found the costs have surpassed your current budget you can make some adjustments and scale down the project. Break it down into phases so that you’re still going forward with your ultimate backyard retreat, but the project will be completed in several phases based on budget, timeframe etc.

Finalize the Design Plan

Now that you have your design on paper, costs of product, materials and labor are determined you can move forward knowing that you took all the right steps in creating your ultimate backyard retreat.

Based on your budget, you may finalize your design and begin construction, or you’re starting with phase one. Some features can be installed right away while others will have to wait. Determine the budget you have for each phase, and work with your landscape designer to finalize the design.


Designing your ultimate backyard retreat can be a challenging but rewarding process. With careful planning, you can create a beautiful outdoor space that you and your family can enjoy for years to come. Remember to consider your yard’s size, style, and the features that you want to include as you move through the design process. Making your wish list and map will help you narrow down the look and some decisions on the timeframe of final completion.

And remember that “Rome wasn’t built in a day” concept. Some backyard designs evolve with the growth of their families wants and needs over time, and then change again. We hope you found some good tips and inspiration to get started.