Transform a Small Backyard in the City into a Rural Oasis (and Become the Most Popular Party Host on the Block)

Become the coolest kid on the block by creating a grown-up-style oasis.

By Kelly O’Roark

 

You love the city life, but had to compromise on lawn space, and now you’re on the hunt for small backyard design ideas to turn your boring backyard into an outstanding oasis. I understand your dilemma. You want to entertain (especially during these gorgeous summer months), but tossing a few lawn chairs onto a pile of dirt doesn’t exactly keep people coming back for more.

 

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I know it seems impossible to transform a small lot into a space that accommodates breathtaking scenery and talk-of-the-town parties, but trust me, it can be done (and I’ve got the pictures to prove it)!

 

Whether you’re hosting a graduation party or a small neighborhood barbeque, you’ll be sure to make the most memorable experience for your guests (and yourself) by creating a rural ambience amidst a busy city backdrop.

 

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Here are five small backyard design ideas to create a restful retreat for your urban abode.

 

Focus on Foliage

The best way to bring your backyard to life is to fill it with lots of greenery. You can bring nature into the city with trees, plants, flowers, and tall grasses. It’s important to have variety in shape, size, and color so that it looks like a beautiful conservatory instead of an overgrow pile of weeds. A unique mix like this provides the perfect amount of visual interest:

 

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Implement Art-Inspired Décor

Have you ever gone to an art show and gotten lost in a painting, where the colors were so vivid and the design so serene, that you immediately wanted to purchase that 20-by-40-foot work of art for your living room to recreate the ambience? (Hey, credit cards are perfect for times like these!)

 

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There’s something about rich colors and striking textures that creates a warm and inviting atmosphere. When implementing small backyard design ideas, it’s important to choose unique décor that provides a contrast from the hustle and bustle of the city in order to achieve a "perfect paradise" vibe.

 

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(And if you happen to be lucky enough to have a magnificent magnolia tree, a vintage-looking wind chime adds the perfect amount of charm!)

 

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Secure Good Seating (and Shade)

Whether you’re hosting a block party or having some quiet time with a good book and equally good coffee, an essential aspect of a backyard oasis is plenty of seating in and out of the sun. A table and chairs for enjoying unforgettable barbeque from the master griller (yes, that’s you), provides a place to relax and unwind, and enjoy engaging conversation.

 

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On the days when your introverted side needs to be unleashed, it provides the same relaxing atmosphere for reflective moments and of course, napping (because we all know that the best naps happen when it’s warm with a slight breeze).

 

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A pergola or canopy tent provides the perfect amount of shade while still being enveloped in the warmth of the sun. Even when a light rain shower pops up, it provides a perfect place to enjoy the calming sound of rain drops falling against the beautiful foliage (ah, bliss)!

 

Make Room for the Grill Master  

Nobody cooks a mean steak like you do, and you’re more than willing to showcase your exceptional grilling skills for your family and friends (Bobby Flay has nothing on you). Setting up an area specifically designed for the art of mastering marinated meats is key to creating a space that lends itself to effortless entertaining.

 

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It’s best to have it off to the side so that you don’t smoke out your guests, and so that no one is in danger of tripping over it. A small corner on the back porch (or the back part of the yard if there isn’t a porch) is a perfect place for a charcoal (or gas) grill. Be sure to continue the art-inspired décor throughout the entire backyard – including the grilling area!

 

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Find Space for a Game Table and Fire Pit  

There’s nothing like a good ole game of poker and a cold beer. In the summertime, this a table like this is perfect for games and drinks, and can also be used to serve all of the fixings that go with your amazing steaks.

 

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In the cool fall evenings, it can be used as a stand for a portable fire pit (s’mores, anyone?), which is a great way to still enjoy the beautiful outdoors while taking the edge off of the cool, crisp air.

 

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Want to Earn Some Bonus Points for your One-of-a-Kind Urban Oasis? Water is the Answer!

When implementing small backyard design ideas, the possibilities are almost endless, and one way to really make your yard stand out is to add elements that remind you of those beautiful nature hikes you used to take as a kid (except for the snakes and bears – it’s best not to include those).

 

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A pond or a waterfall wall adds the perfect amount of white noise to drown out traffic sounds, and create a serene space for you and all of your family and friends to enjoy (because now you’ve won the official award for “Best Backyard,” which will look nice next to your “#1 Grill Master” trophy).

 

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What type of small backyard design ideas have inspired you? What are some must-have design aspects that you would add to the list? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

 

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Images used with permission, courtesy of Kelly O'Roark

Next: How to Turn Your Yard into a Hummingbird Haven