5 Small Backyard Ideas

A small backyard can often feel limiting. There’s no room for a huge playscape or outdoor kitchen. Throwing backyard parties or installing a huge in-ground pool is probably out, too.

Despite these limitations, though, your yard can still be a place you enjoy. It just takes a little creativity to get it there.

Do you have a small backyard? Here are some creative ways pros recommend approaching it:

— Think vertically.

— Use multifunctional furniture.

— Be choosy about play elements.

— Consider a small water element.

— Add a focal point.

[14 Backyard Fire Pit Ideas]

Think Vertically

If you’re itching for a yard of flowers and foliage, plant up instead of out.

“Utilizing vertical space is a fantastic way to enhance the visual appeal of a small backyard,” says Scott Bergmann, a real estate agent with Realty ONE Group Sterling in Omaha, Nebraska. “Installing vertical gardens or green walls can add a touch of natural beauty while maximizing the available space.”

In addition to vertical gardens, you can also consider hanging planters or tall, skinny trees to give the yard more height.

“You can use vertical planting — trees, tall plants, climbing vines on a fence, etc. — to draw the eye upwards and create a sense of more space,” says Kevin Lenhart, design director at Yardzen in the San Francisco Bay area. “Choose more narrow species like upright evergreens, which won’t overcome the yard.”

Use Multifunctional Furniture

When furnishing a small backyard, choosing multipurpose, double-duty pieces is critical.

“Think about a fold-down table attached to a fence for buffet-style meals, and modular furniture that can be rearranged as needed,” says Bryan Clayton, CEO and co-founder of lawn care marketplace GreenPal in Nashville, Tennessee.

You can also opt for chairs and tables that open and have built-in storage space. This can help keep your yard neat and tidy and minimize clutter.

Be Choosy About Play Elements

If you have kids, you’ll probably want something to entertain them outside. While a full-scale swing set or trampoline likely aren’t options, there are other routes to consider.

“The best way to add fun activities to a small backyard is to invest in a mixture of items that can be easily stored when not in use,” says Kimberly Greenwell, host of My Southern Home TV, who’s based in Louisville, Kentucky. “Life-sized yard games such as Jenga, checkers and cornhole are fun for all age groups, can be used in all four seasons and are easily stored away in a garage, attic space or backyard shed.”

You might also consider painting a portion of your fence with chalkboard paint to give the kids a creative outlet or, if you have a large tree in the yard, hanging a tire swing or climbing rope from one of its sturdier branches.

[READ: Privacy Fence Ideas for Your Backyard.]

Consider a Small Water Element

Massive in-ground pools aren’t a possibility in small yards, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a water element or two. Not only are storable items like slip-and-slides or blow-up splash pads an option, but you can also look to smaller-style pools as well. You may have room for a small backyard pond to give you a relaxing space to unwind.

Hot tubs can be a great choice, though they’re likely not a huge draw if you live in a warmer climate. You can also consider a stock tank pool. These are small, round lounging pools that only are only a few feet wide.

Finally, plunge pools — a compact, narrow type of swimming pool — can work, too, depending on your yard’s layout. According to home design website Houzz, online searches for “small plunge pool” are up 375% in the last year.

“With plunge pools, you don’t need a large backyard to take a dip at home,” says Annie Thornton, senior associate editor at Houzz. “In fact, the move toward smaller pools is on the rise. These smaller designs can be heated or kept cool, leaving room for other fun backyard features.”

[5 Backyard Patio Ideas]

Add a Focal Point

Every yard needs a focal point — something to draw in the eye and serve as the foundation for your yard’s aesthetic. Living walls, which transform a boring, basic wall into a lush green space, are one possible (and potentially easy) option, Greenwell says.

“You can purchase DIY living walls and living wall planters online that are easy to assemble and self-watering,” Greenwell says. “They’re virtually maintenance-free.”

Fire pits are another potential focal point to consider. These come in all shapes, sizes and materials, and you can even find ones that are lightweight enough to move around should you need more flexibility in your layout.

“A fire pit is an amazing conversation starter,” says Tom Smith, general manager at DesertDesigner Landscape and Development in Chandler, Arizona. “People can sit beside it and talk for hours. You can potentially cook on it, and it’s an amazing centerpiece for outdoor parties.”

More from U.S. News

Top 8 Pros and Cons of Saltwater Pools

Ways to Make Your Outdoor Shed a Livable Space

How Much Does It Cost to Add a Screened-In Deck or Porch to Your House?

5 Small Backyard Ideas originally appeared on usnews.com

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