What does it take to create the ultimate backyard? Well, that depends on how you want to use your outdoor space. For many homeowners, it’s a place to relax, get together with friends and family and have a good time.
However you plan to use it, we’ll walk you through the key components. The following is a collection of our favorite backyard ideas, projects, tips and tools to help you build your ultimate outdoor space this season.
Define a place to gather
Whether it’s a deck or stone patio or even a patch of grass, defining a place to gather is a must, even for small backyard designs. In this project, we’ll show you how to build a platform deck in just three days. (Yes, you read that correctly—three days!) Since it’s not connected to a house and sits just inches above the ground, it’s an inexpensive, quick-to-build alternative to standard decks and patios. Check out the full plans for this project here, so you can build this platform deck in your backyard.
Pro tip: Your deck can be any size. But if you’re using 2×6 framing material, place footings no more than 5 ft. 11 in. apart, and limit joist length to no more than 6 ft. 8 in.
Best tools for building a deck
A deck is especially easy to build if you have the right tools on hand. The editor’s picks above helped to bring the platform deck to life quickly and easily. Click on the images to get your hands on all three of these go-to deck-building tools now. Also consider using this Makita impact driver, this DeWalt 12-in. sliding miter saw and this Tajima chalk line to pull off the project.
Easy deck add-ons you can DIY
Once your deck is build, add shade, lighting and more to enhance your gathering space. Here are some of our favorite ideas (with free project plans!):
Nurture a lush lawn
Amazing backyard ideas often include vibrant, green grass. And it’s a lot easier than you might think to grow and maintain a barefoot-worthy lawn yourself. It just takes a little bit of patience and know-how. Check out our best solutions for improving your grass if you:
- Have a weedy, patchy lawn
- Have a thinning, brown lawn
- Want to start over and reseed
- Want to start over with sod
Lawn mowing tips all homeowners should know
After all the effort you put into nurturing your lawn each season, don’t blow it with mowing mistakes. Click here to learn how to mow for better grass, sponsored by Cub Cadet.
Watch the videos above sponsored by Cub Cadet to see some must-know mowing tips in action and to learn about the latest zero-turn mowers.
Add a spark of interest
Providing something to gather around such as a fire pit or charming outdoor table will take your backyard to the next level. This DIY modern outdoor fireplace looks expensive (and really heavy)—but it’s not! It’s actually one of our favorite backyard ideas on a budget. Click here to learn how easy it is to make this outdoor fireplace yourself. Place it by your deck one day and then move it somewhere else in your yard the next.
Pro tip: This outdoor fireplace uses the same components that fuel a typical gas grill.
Patio heaters we love
Go beyond the flame of an outdoor fireplace and add even more warmth to your ultimate backyard with one of these patio heaters:
Provide a path
As you incorporate gathering places, gardens and other backyard landscaping ideas throughout your space, a great way to tie everything together (and make it easier to get around) is to create paths. Check out this extensive how-to guide for creating a charming backyard path that doesn’t break the bank.
Click here to learn how to build the flagstone path shown above. It’s a lot easier than you might think. Then be sure to check out the tough plants we recommend for growing between stones to create a finished, natural-looking path.
If you’re ready to bring your backyard ideas to life but do’t know where to start, check out My DIY University. You’ll find loads of easy-to-follow online classes for projects that will help you transform your outdoor space.
Landscape lighting dos and don’ts
Don’t forget to light up your paths and gathering spaces, so you can enjoy your ultimate backyard even after the sun goes down. These are the outdoor lighting tips you need to know:
If you like to cook outdoors, a grilling station is an essential piece of an ultimate backyard. It can be as simple as building this folding grill table to accompany your charcoal grill or as complex as creating an entire outdoor kitchen. Take it up a notch with these additional landscaping ideas for a grill master.
Must-have grilling tools
No backyard grilling station is complete without a few cool toys. You’ll definitely want to add the three grilling tools above to your wish list this season. Click on the photos to buy them on Amazon now.
Bring the Indoors Out
Just as with any living space inside your home, adding storage and a few indoor comforts to your outdoor space is a must. Get plans for this easy-to-build outdoor storage bench here. They may look like high-end furniture pieces, but these outdoor storage benches are easy and inexpensive to build. Check out 40 more of our favorite outdoor woodworking projects that can be incorporated into any simple backyard landscaping ideas.
Pro tip: This project is really just a plywood box dressed up with solid wood slats.
The ultimate backyard beckons friends and family to hang out, so be sure to include lawn games, barbecue supplies and anything else that encourages fun and conversation. In the videos tutorials above, learn how to make your own cornhole boards, additional seating and side tables.
Backyard ideas from DIYers like you
Family Handyman readers know a thing or two about creating the ultimate backyard, too. Check out some of their inspiring outdoor projects:
Have you created an amazing backyard project? We want to see it! Share it with us, and we may post it on our website or social media channels.
Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.