Have you moved into a new house and need to create ‘your backyard’?
Are you redesigning your current backyard?
Are you adding a pool (or other central feature) to your backyard?
Are you looking to add more to your current backyard?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, that’s probably why you ended up here. More importantly, it also means you need a plan for your backyard.
Planning should be easy and fun, and it should never detract from the enjoyment of building your backyard. Additionally, a good plan will lead to a backyard you really love, whereas a bad plan can result in your backyard not fulfilling your expectations, wasting money, and wasting time.
So, how does planning for your backyard become easy, fun, and effective? By following the steps in this Beginner’s Guide! Our guide below provides a structured way to think about and design the key features you want in your backyard to maximize your backyard fun and entertainment.
Scroll down to get started!
Step 1: Determine your backyard entertainment goals and activities
What do you want to do with your backyard? Understanding the type of activities you want to do with your backyard sets the foundation of knowing what you need for your backyard. Some activities are listed below:
- Host birthday or dinner parties
- Play area for kids
- Pool activities
- Grilling and cooking
- Tanning or, conversely, relaxing in the shade
- Recreational activities (trampoline, zipline, etc.)
- Sports and games
- Watch TV
- Listen to music
More than likely, you will have several goals for what you want to do with your backyard. But, make sure you have a complete list of everything you want to do with your backyard now and in the future.
Step 2: Set timeframes for your goals
You may want to do some of these goals now, and some you will put off into the future. A classic example is planning on building an in-ground pool a few years from now.
Also, some of these goals you may do in a limited manner while planning to do a ‘bigger’ or ‘improved’ form of the goal down the road. For example, it may make sense to have a simple sandbox for younger children now, but as they get bigger, the goal can be to have a larger entertainment area with a trampoline or playset.
So, go through your goals and identify what you want to do now and those you want to do in the future.
Step 3: Identify and measure functional areas of your backyard
The next step is identifying different “functional” areas in your backyard that you will use to achieve these goals. Functional areas are those parts of your yard where you expect to conduct different activities to meet your goals.
Much like you have different rooms of your house or different parts of a room for various activities, you should also identify functional areas of your backyard for different activities/goals. A recommended approach for this step is to draw a rough sketch of your backyard area and then mark out different functional areas.
Your patio or deck will be an easy area to start. This is likely where you will want to host your guests, cook, bbq, watch TV, etc. Within each functional area you have identified, align your goals with these areas. Or, in some cases, it may be helpful to start with your goals and then identify which areas best meet these goals. Through this process, you should get a good understanding of how you will use the different areas of your backyard.
As you identify your areas, it is recommended to measure each functional area. At this point, this can be a rough measurement to get an idea of how much space you have. Make sure you mark out areas used for landscaping or other areas that will not have a functional use.
Step 4: Identify types of products that will help you achieve your goals
The next step is to simply identify general types of products that you think will meet your goals and activities. For example, a ‘host dinners’ goal for your patio may require an outdoor dining set. Or ‘Cook on a grill’ goal will require a purchase of a grill. However, you don’t need to be precisely specific about which type or kind of outdoor dining set or grill you want. Product research and shopping will help narrow down the specific items that work for your situation and ones that you ultimately buy.
Step 5: Set your budget and prioritize goals and activities
Now that you have an understanding of your goals, how you will use your backyard to meet these goals and an idea of product types that will help achieve these goals, the next step is to get closer to making these goals a reality by establishing your budget. The main goal of setting a budget is to establish an overall limit you are willing to spend at this time for your backyard. Although you may know how much you want to spend on different activities, this may change as you do more in-depth product research and shopping.
But, an essential part of this budgeting step is to identify your priority activities based upon this budget. You may have naturally completed this prioritization in Step 2 to identify what you want to do ‘Now,’ but with this budget limit, you may find that you might not be able to do all of these goals right now.
Go through your ‘Now’ list from Step 2 and prioritize those items you would like to do now. For example, a ‘watching TV’ goal and an associated purchase of an outdoor TV may not be as important as ‘Hosting Parties’ and an associated purchase of a new outdoor sectional. As you do more research and shopping for these different activities, you will be better prepared to do trade-offs in products across various activities.
Step 6: Set a time to research and buy
With your budget and prioritization in order, the next step is to set a time for when you want to 1) start your research and shopping, and 2) when you want to have your backyard goals met. These two items can go hand-in-hand, especially if you have a hard timeframe for when you need some items for your backyard. For example, you may need new outdoor chairs for an upcoming party, requiring you to start shopping sooner rather than later.
Step 7: Research and shop
The next step is to start researching and shopping for the items you have identified to help achieve your goals. Along the way, you will find out more about what is important to you in the eventual item you will buy, even if you think you have a good idea of what you want to buy right now.
One tool to help you learn more about different products is our Buying Guides. We have assembled many Buying Guides for different types of products for you to use, and we recommend using these and other information that you find to help guide you in your eventual purchase.
Step 8: Conduct final budget tradeoffs
As you shop for products, you may find that you will use priorities set in Step 5 to help make tradeoffs in what items fit within your budget. The priorities will guide the quality, type, size, etc., of the items you purchase while helping you stick to your budget.
For example, you may have hoped to purchase a high-end metal frame bench for one part of your backyard. But as you conduct research, you find that a recycled plastic bench can give you similar durability at a lower price, and the savings will allow you to buy some landscaping lights.
Step 9: Purchase items
Once you have settled all of your priorities and final budget, then you are set to make your purchase to finally begin to Live Your Best Backyard!