Functional Backyard Landscape Ideas

Functional Backyard Landscape Ideas

Creating functional outdoor spaces depends on what you as the homeowner are looking to do. Do you have kids and/or a pet? An open back yard with ample room to run and play may be the best option. Or, are you more interested in entertaining? If so, your space may include a deck, patio, and/or outdoor kitchen. Here are some tips for designing a functional backyard landscape that’s just right for you.

Make a Plan

First, and foremost, make a plan for your ideal outdoor space. Too many people get caught up in details before they’ve addressed the intended function. Your plan should include existing softscaping such as trees and shrubs, and hardscapes like walkways and patios.

Next, be sure to hire an experienced landscape construction contractor that can provide a consultation and scope of work by a qualified engineer. The scope of work will detail all the phases of the project, as well as cost estimates for each. Also consider hiring a landscape construction project manager. This step will ensure that all phases of your project will be completed using the safest and most efficient methods, which means the most cost effective for your budget.

Address Drainage and Grading Problems

Before beginning landscape construction, address any drainage problems. Your yard may need a simple regrading or perhaps a drainage system installed to ensure that rainwater drains properly. Consider adding a retaining wall to create more usable space in your yard. Retaining walls can be aesthetically pleasing and cut into a sloped area to level it.

Once the underlying structure of your yard is addressed, the next step is adding the features that best suit your lifestyle and also improve your property and its resale value.

Choose Outdoor Features

Let’s say your plan is to entertain, but like most of us, you’re constrained by a budget. You’ll need to think about the cost of potential features and how they may fit (or not fit) with your outdoor area. Continue reading to learn about some features you can potentially incorporate in your outdoor space.


Decks are usually made with vinyl or wood and feature a support system to hold them off the ground. If you want to highlight a specific view, go with a deck, as it provides a wider, birds-eye view. Decks are also good options if you have a sloped yard because the deck supports can be designed to any length.

This Old House suggests that on average, a homeowner can expect to pay around six thousand dollars for a new deck. While decks are more expensive than patios, the return on investment for a deck is about seventy-five percent.


A patio differs from a deck because the foundation is built directly on the ground. It could be attached to the house, but doesn’t have to be. Most patios have concrete bases, but other materials can be used to develop the foundation. Typically patios don’t have rails around them.

So, if you want to tie in your landscaping with the outdoor design, a patio is your best bet. You can even surround a patio with flowers, shrubs, and trees to make it feel separate from your home. Add a fire pit and you have created a great spot for entertaining friends and family.

Patios are cheaper than decks costing about a third of the price of an average deck. But the return on investment is somewhere between thirty and sixty percent, making it less than a deck.

Outdoor kitchen

You can get creative with outdoor kitchens because you aren’t limited by existing walls. It’s also much easier to entertain in your outdoor space because you can cook and mingle with your guests at the same time. And being outside allows you to cook over a flame, which isn’t possible in a traditional indoor kitchen!

On the flip side, because it’s outdoors you have to ensure your equipment is protected from the elements and from theft.

Now Get Creative

Now that you have a plan, addressed potential yard issues, and analyzed feature options that make the most sense for you, you’re well on your way to creating a functional outdoor space that works for you.