Edible Backyard Landscaping Ideas

The first step in developing your own set of backyard landscaping ideas is to think about what you use your back yard for (or what you would like to use it for, if it more resembles a barren wasteland ...)

Account for your family's needs

  • Do you have children (or are you planning for some)? How old are they?
Rosemary along garden steps
Small children and infants require different landscape modifications than older children and teens. Consider if you want to devote part of your yard to a children's play area, a treehouse, a trampoline, a merry-go-round or a backyard swingset.

Get ideas from your family as to what they would like!

  • Do you entertain a lot?

Building a patio is one of many good backyard projects, and features such as waterfalls and built-in grills can be both convenient and beautiful.

  • Are you disabled, getting older, or have elderly parents or grandparents to care for?

Design your edible garden with comfort in mind: smooth paths, railings for steps, and frequent places to sit.

  • Do you like a secluded backyard, or do you prefer a more open one? What kind of fencing or walls go best with the colors, textures and shapes on the outside of your home in the backyard?

You could use fruit trees and/or edible hedges to "fence in" your backyard and make it a perfect retreat.

  • Does your backyard have a swimming pool? Would you like to add one? How about a hot tub?

You'll want to check the usual wind direction and avoid placing plants upwind that shed leaves (unless you really like cleaning leaves out of your pool!)

  • What is your backyard lighting like?

Adding solar-powered lamps, candles, or tiki torches (depending on the style of your backyard) can enhance its appearance and encourage your family to use your backyard more.

  • What about your pets? Do you need some backyard dog kennels or dog runs? Where will you place them?

Designing your backyard in tune with your environment

  • Does your backyard have steep slopes up or down?

Terracing and the use of steps can allow you to grow lovely edible groundcovers while letting you safely reach them for harvesting and maintenance.

You could also use a retaining wall to make a broad raised area for planting, then build steps down the area beneath the wall, which might be used for other activities.

  • Are there times of the year that the weather is harsh?

Consider adding an enclosed sunroom or shade room to your home, that can allow you to enjoy your garden even during rough weather.

  • Do you have very low or very high rainfall, extreme temperatures, or high winds? Choose plants that work best in your area.

Often a local nursery (as opposed to a big box store "garden department") will have staff experienced in helping you choose landscaping plants that can withstand these weather conditions.

  • Consider planting deciduous trees (those that shed their leaves in the winter) near the south side of your home, at least 20 feet/6 meters from the foundation.

These will shade the house in summer and, when the leaves fall, allow the sun to warm the house in the winter, thus saving you in heating and cooling bills.

More backyard landscaping ideas

Need more inspiration? More backyard landscaping ideas? There are many details you can add to your back yard, depending on its size and your interests:

  • Backyard water features like a koi pond, water fountains, or water falls
  • A backyard basketball court or tennis court
  • A backyard hockey rink or ice skating rink
  • A backyard theater, with or without an outdoor home movie screen
  • Backyard beekeeping
  • Raising backyard chickens
  • If you live in a very cold climate, backyard greenhouses are a smart way to garden over the winter months.
Do you need more storage space? A backyard garden shed is just one of many good storage solutions.

Here are even more backyard landscaping ideas for you!

  • A back porch or patio with a tropical, Mediterranean, or desert theme
  • Tuck a patio or gazebo behind sprays of tall edible flowers or a fruit tree to be "discovered" by your guests
  • Place a waterfall or pond near the patio or in a sheltered alcove along the path
  • Put large pots of edible flowers or greenery beside the swimming pool
  • Use arbor arches with low hedges or fences to mark off parts of the garden ... grapes, peas, or edible flowering vines can be trained up the sides of these and allowed to hang down for your guests to sample. You could have a whole backyard vineyard!

So how do you put all of these backyard landscaping ideas together?

After you've made a list of what you want in your backyard, you can make some sketches of where you would like the different landscaping ideas and elements.

Measuring your backyard helps you to know exactly how much room you have to work with, then you can use graph paper or one of the online landscaping software tools to help map out exactly where each should go.

Get more tips for creating your design plans here.

Need help implementing your backyard landscaping ideas? You can

The most important thing is to have fun. Make your yard into a place you can enjoy. And show us some pictures when you're done!

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