Divide and Conquer: The Best Design Approach for a Big Yard

With no walls, windows, or any defined structure like your interiors, it’s a pretty tough job to design a backyard. Believe it or not, the key to pulling this off is thinking exactly like how you did the inside of your home. Specifically, your open-floor plan concept. The approach is to divide and conquer. Split it up into zones. For this, you need to decide on these following elements:


The number one rule in design is form follows function. Before you think about all the aesthetic and style, you should be able to determine the function of the space first. Depending on your lifestyle, list all the things you want your backyard to be of use. Is it to entertain guests? To let kids play? To get you started on vegetable gardening? All these functions will dictate the zones in your yard.

As much as possible, be detailed in outlining your family’s hobbies and interests so you can define the areas more clearly later. In general, homeowners must have areas for preparing food, dining with family and friends, meditating and relaxing, and of course, storing yard essentials, like garden equipment and swimming pool chemicals.


Once you determine which zones you’ll have based on functions, the next thing you should think about is the location — where you’ll put those areas. You have to be strategic, as this will affect how the spaces will work for you. For instance, if you put the meditation nook close to the deck or the patio, you might not get the peace and quiet you’re supposed to experience there, precisely because that’s a high-traffic area. No panels or dividers can make that as relaxing as it’s supposed to be. A better approach is to have the reflection space kept away, at the farthest section of the yard.

On the other hand, you want the dining area to be close to the house, so you can easily get stuff from the kitchen. In terms of the kids’ play area, you may want it at a location where you can keep an eye on, especially if your children’s recreation include swimming. Fiberglass pools, as Utah-based landscaping experts say, should be installed a few feet away from the al fresco, as this is where people usually lounge around. As for the garden, place it in an area where you can see it from the inside of the home.


Backyard with wood fence

After laying down where you’ll place the zones of your outdoor space, you move on to the elements that make those areas more defined. There are many materials you can use to create a distinction among spaces. For one, you can use dividers. Some of these include privacy screens, metal fences, or moon gates. You can also have shade structures, like pergolas, awnings, or canopies. Ground treatments can also help, and pavers and decking are its popular options.

If you have the budget to elevate or lower the floor level, that’s also an effective approach to defining the space better. Many homeowners are bringing back sunken rooms for conversation or dining areas. Of course, furniture remains the best tools for creating distinction among spaces. A cubby house is enough to define the kids’ play area in the same way a sprawling couch is a visual cue for a conversation zone.

It’s not the easiest job to design a big, empty yard. By dividing your space into sections, you can pull it off. Remember these mentioned elements to make your makeover project a success.

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