15 small backyard ideas, just in time for summer

Turn your small backyard into a verdant oasis with these genius hacks.

Small Backyard
(Image credit: Luis Villafranca for Unsplash)

Whether you have a sprawling lawn or a small backyard, getting outside is key to enjoying warmer weather in the privacy of your own home. No matter how tiny your space, you can still enjoy a beautiful garden, seating area, and even a campfire — we swear! 

These 15 small backyard ideas will help you make the most of your every inch of verdant space.  

1. Create privacy

Small Backyard Ideas

(Image credit: Pottery Barn)

Chances are, your small backyard butts up to your neighbor's small backyard. Create privacy and avoid awkward run-ins by attaching bamboo fencing to your deck or existing iron or chain-link fence. You can also hang outdoor curtains or install a gazebo canopy with enclosed mesh sides.

2. Opt for a bistro set

Small Backyard Ideas

(Image credit: Wayfair)

You can still enjoy a meal outdoors, even if you don't have space for a full dining set. Instead, opt for a bistro table and chairs that matches your personal style. Go for powder-coated metal for a retro vibe, enhance your boho aesthetic with wicker and rattan, or create a country feel with wooden porch rockers. All that's missing is homemade lemonade. 

3. Add a sunning pool

Small Backyard Ideas

(Image credit: Bed, Bath & Beyond)

Inflatable pools aren't just for kids! Blow up a small sunning pool to cool off and relax on a hot day. Have fun with it, and choose a colorful style that makes a splash. Looking for something more permanent? Make your own stock tank pool for under $500. 

4. Light a fire

Small Backyard Ideas

(Image credit: Home Depot)

You don't need a fancy permanent installation to enjoy a backyard fire. There are a ton of affordable fire pits  on the market at every size. No yard at all? You can enjoy a portable, tabletop fire from City Bonfires on your deck or patio. 

5. Create a vertical garden

Small Backyard Ideas

(Image credit: Williams Sonoma)

No room for garden beds? No problem! Create a vertical wall garden by mounting planters to your fence or patio. Or, choose a vertical planter with a built-in drip irrigation kit.  If you need to move your plants with the sun, select a planter and trellis on wheels so your green babies can enjoy peak light. 

6. Hang your furniture

Small Backyard Ideas

(Image credit: Etsy)

Have a covered porch? Maximize floor space by hanging a comfy swing chair or bench. Complete the look by hanging plants from macramé plant hangers, and add faux fur toss pillows for a boho vibe. 

7. Downsize your grill

Small Backyard Ideas

(Image credit: Home Depot)

Nothing says summer like throwing a few hot dogs on the grill. And a small backyard doesn't have to keep you from that quintessential experience! Opt for a petite gas grill with folding arms and wheels for easy storage. If you're really hurting for space, you can also go for a portable tabletop charcoal grill for your balcony or porch. 

8. Swing small

Small Backyard Ideas

(Image credit: Walmart)

Your small backyard may not have room for a large swing set, but that doesn't mean your tot can't enjoy a jungle gym of his own! Try a freestanding swing or a classic Little Tikes toddler swing you can hang from a sturdy tree branch or mount under
a deck. 

9. Hang all the lights

Small Backyard Ideas

(Image credit: Pottery Barn)

One big benefit to a small space is you can make a strong impact with cafe lights by stringing them across your whole space. The more the merrier to create the feel of a charming, Brooklyn cocktail bar. Nothing to hang lights from? No problem — install handy string light posts to your table with a simple clamp. 

10. Invest in folding furniture

Small Backyard Ideas

(Image credit: Bed Bath & Beyond)

Folding furniture is a great way to enjoy a meal outside without taking up precious real estate when it's time to play. Look for a set that tucks within itself for easy storage, or consider a balcony dining set for your back porch. 

  • Keep reading: 26 patio ideas --how to design a patio large or small

11. Add a rug to your driveway

Small Backyard Ideas

(Image credit: West Elm)

If you don't have a patio, throw an outdoor rug down on the back of your driveway to designate an outdoor dining area. It offers a nice spot to eat without bugs, and you'll save precious grassy space for playing or gardening. 

12. Create a bar on wheels

Small Backyard Ideas

(Image credit: Overstock)

You don't need a fancy outdoor kitchen or bar to enjoy a boozy afternoon outdoors. Opt for a cooler on wheels (like this retro pink style) or make your own. Any type of vessel that can hold ice — a bird bath, planter, kiddie pool, or beach pale — can become an instant cooler. 

13. Opt for a container garden

Small Backyard Ideas

(Image credit: Gardener's Supply Company)

Garden beds take up a lot of room and require expensive installation (or very handy DIY skills). A container garden is a great way to enjoy fresh flowers and vegetables in the warmer months. Choose large pots, or go for a raised bed that can fit on your patio. The best part? No weeding! 

14. Create a fairy garden

Small Backyard Ideas

(Image credit: Etsy)

Even the smallest of yards is big to a fairy. Create your own charming fairy garden with gathered items like moss, stones, and pieces of wood. Or, purchase a handmade kit to add characters straight out of A Midsummer Night's Dream

15. Put down a path

Small Backyard Ideas

(Image credit: Amazon)

Add some hardscaping to your small backyard without the investment by putting down a removable roll-out pathway. The path will add style points but also has practical benefits — like reducing the amount of mud tracked into your house. 

Ann Loynd Burton
Ann Loynd Burton

After serving as an editor for luxury publications for nearly a decade, Ann Loynd Burton struck out on her own as a freelance writer covering design and lifestyle. Along with her work highlighting decor trends for Real Homes, Loynd Burton has covered interiors for such publications as Apartment TherapyAspireCottages & Gardens, and Galerie

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