Patio, landscape designs for small yards

Updated Apr 19, 2024


Photo: BelgardPhoto: Belgard

With the rise in popularity of outdoor living spaces, creative patio landscape design allows homeowners with small yards to optimize their space without restricting personal style. With the right design, you can enhance a patio’s functionality and create the illusion of ample space.

When you’re working on a patio landscape design for a small backyard, keep the following tips in mind.

Proportion: A patio that’s too small isn’t functional, and one that’s too large can look odd and make landscaping difficult. When creating a patio landscape design, consider the amount of maintenance a client wants to put into a landscape as well as the desired use of the patio. For homeowners looking for a low-maintenance landscaping solution that looks modern, hardscaping the entire space is a popular option.

Materials: In big projects, the cost of materials can add up quickly. In small yards, however, the cost difference between natural stone and pavers is minimal, allowing you to design a higher-end patio.

Pricing: Patio landscape designs for small backyards generally cost more per square foot than those for bigger yards. When you develop a project estimate, avoid telling the cost per square foot. Instead, give a quote for the total project.

Access: When planning a patio for a small backyard, take into account how the client wishes to access the space from the home, fences and other areas of the yard.

Seating: Seating can be a problem in small backyard spaces. Consider incorporating built-in seating with pavers or other materials so the client can maximize the space available and save money on furniture costs.

Inspiration: Gather pictures of patios in small backyards in a binder that you and your clients can use to gather ideas. Sources for these images can include magazines, books, past projects, your own sketches and the internet.

Planning with the client: Before you begin building a patio, draw a to-scale sketch. Use to-scale cutouts of the furniture and accessories the client wants to use to determine if the items will fit within the space. Alternatively, use a hose to outline the space and see if there’s enough room.

Drainage: When designing a patio, always build it on a slope that directs water away from the property and to appropriate drainage areas.

Going local: Check with local manufacturers to find samples of the materials available. Compare each sample to elements that exist in the yard to see if they make a good aesthetic match.

Designing a patio for a small space can be tricky. Use your patio sizing and landscape knowledge to create an area your clients will enjoy and feel comfortable in for years to come.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written by Christin Bryk. Bryk is the owner of Mountain View Landscaping based in Grants Pass, Oregon. Bryk’s company offers full service landscaping for residential and business properties, large and small. 

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