6 Tips to Build Your Backyard Oasis


Your backyard is functional and provides a private outdoor space for you and your family. But … you want more. You want your backyard to be inviting as well as functional. You want your backyard space to be the place both your family and your guests want to be. It’s time for a backyard makeover.

The first step is to assess what you already have in your backyard. How big is your space? What do you like about your current backyard and what do you definitely want to be eliminated? What do you want to be added? What is your budget? Do you want to hire professionals, DIY,  or do a combination of both? What is your timeline? Do you plan on completing everything within a few months, or is this going to be completed over several years?

Here are some tips to change your yard from “ho-hum” to a backyard oasis:

1. Swimming pool.

A swimming pool will be the best feature in your backyard. If you plan on adding a pool, this should be the first project you undertake. Whether you decide on an inground pool or an above ground pool, the location of the pool should be well thought out. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

    • Will your pool be connected to the house via a deck or as part of your patio, or will it be located out in your yard?  

    • How big will your pool be and what shape?

    • Where will you store your pool supplies and pool equipment?

    • If you already have a pool, is it time to upgrade to a larger pool? If you live in the north, this may be the time to extend your swimming season by adding a heater. Today’s pool equipment is energy efficient, and you will add months to your swim season.

2. Lighting.

The lighting in your back yard needs to be both functional and decorative. All pathways throughout your yard need to have good lighting for safety. You can also choose good lighting for your pool, too. Today, there are LED pool light systems that allow you to feature light shows in your pool. Some of these systems can be retrofitted into an existing pool. Don’t forget to highlight your favorite landscaping with lights, too!

3. Hot tubs and saunas.  

If your budget or space doesn’t make a pool feasible, you might want to consider a hot tub or sauna. Both provide you and your family with an opportunity to relax and unwind in your own backyard. Plus, there’s nothing better than slipping into a hot tub or sauna during winter.

4. Grilling and cooking.

This is an ever-expanding feature of the backyard oasis. Do you love cooking outdoors? Are you frustrated by the limitations of your current backyard grill? You might be ready for a serious upgrade. This is your opportunity to move up to a complete outdoor kitchen with its own structure to house it. The serious outdoor chef may want a kitchen with running water, refrigeration, oven, and stove, as well as the grill as part of the outdoor environment.  

If that is out of reach, consider the placement of your outdoor grilling equipment so that you have easy access to the kitchen. Most people will fall somewhere between these two options. Build your grill into the patio or deck and add a wood-fired oven for your specialty pizzas. You can also plug in a mini-fridge outdoors to keep all your drinks cold.

5. Seating.

The seating should be determined by how you use your backyard and deck or patio. The seating could be permanently placed or portable, and it should be a mix of both. If you have a pool, you will probably want lounge seating, but you also may want to have some bench seating built into your deck that can double as storage for the pool toys.

Do you plan to dine outside? You will need a table and chairs. Do you like to entertain frequently? Some lightweight chairs that can be used temporarily will be very useful. They also can be carried out to the lawn for yard games. Don’t forget to provide seating away from the house, too. If you have a path to a beautiful wooded area in your yard, provide a bench or rustic wicker seat for people to stop and sit a while.

6. Plants.

While often overlooked, the importance of the plants in your yard cannot be overstated. Plants will set the tone of your backyard, provide privacy, hide less attractive parts of your yard, and, of course, give you a beautiful and soothing setting to enjoy.

If you have a pool, and want a tropical feel to your landscape, plant some palm trees. If you live in the north, put potted hibiscus in the forefront of your landscape. You will be able to bring it indoors during the cold of winter which it can’t tolerate and bring it out again in spring. A hedge surrounding your yard can provide a living privacy screen, as well as shelter for the birds.

If you have a shed in your yard for the lawn mower and yard tools, consider planting vines that will grow up the walls and turn an eyesore into a quaint cottage. If you have a small yard and the neighbor’s garage wall or an ugly fence is also the edge of your yard, think vertical. Flowering vines will be attractive and hide the garage or fence. An alternative solution would be to put up a trellis and hang potted plants. You could have an herb garden on the wall or plants such as sun-loving petunias or shade-loving ferns.

Take time to think about what you want from your backyard, do the research, and consult with professionals for advice and help. This year, your backyard will be the backyard oasis you’ve always dreamed about.

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