Small yard landscaping ideas
I know that some of our neighbors didn’t want to purchase the steep-hilled lots on the side that we are located on in our duplex home neighborhood. To me though the hill in our yard presents a beautiful backdrop and it is what we see when we look outside from the back of our house. I had so many different ideas in my head when we moved in and I thought I’d share my small yard landscaping ideas with you today.
Last week I shared our new stock tank pool with you and since you couldn’t really see where the pool is located exactly in our yard, I thought I’d also share some more all-over photos where you can see how our small yard is laid out and landscaped.
Small Yard Landscaping Ideas and tips
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Making good use of every inch in your small yard can be a challenge for some. Over time we have made every square inch of our sloped and narrow yard work for our needs while looking nicely landscaped as well.
We have several designated areas in our yard and the yard is actually only about 33 feet wide. There is a play area at the side of the house which could now be taken down since our kids don’t use a playhouse and sandbox anymore but we have kept it up so far for when friends come to visit with their small children.
Our yard also has a paver patio, a cat enclosure, an herb garden, rock stairs leading to a flagstone patio under big sycamore trees, and now our little stock tank pool as well.
Below is a photo of our yard when we moved in and just started to work on the stairs and upper patio. We also didn’t have a fence yet.
The stock tank pool is now on the left side of those stairs and the cat enclosure is on the right side of that hill, leading all the way to the top.
And here are the stairs going up the hill now:
Another view from up top looking down where you can actually see the rock stairs much better than from the bottom. It shows that it’s not as grown in or overgrown as you may think it is from the bottom
The rock stairs are lined with different colored foliage coming from bushes, trees, and a variety of different hostas which are my favorite.
Designating different areas in your small yard landscaping
Creating other designated areas within your garden just like rooms in your home is one of my favorite ways to landscape any yard, not just a small yard like ours.
We sectioned off different areas with rocks and plants to create an intimate feeling. Our patio has a retaining wall with plants behind it and the stock tank pool is located right behind it to the left. (You can read more about the DIY stock tank pool HERE)
A little lounge area right outside the patio sliding door.
And a little seating area under the trees by the stock tank pool. I bought these small teak folding chairs which have the perfect small scale and are surprisingly comfy.
The rock wall and the fact that it is nestled within the hill also give it a cozy and intimate feeling.
Adding different colored and textured plants and rocks
To me the most important thing when “decorating” your landscaping with plants is choosing different textures and colors for interest, just as you would inside your home. Usually, I never pick a plant by its flower color but I try to stick to choosing the plant according to the foliage since that is what you see most of during the growing season.
I mentioned that I love hostas and we have a large variety of them with different-sized and colored leaves. If you aren’t sure what you are doing yet and want to start somewhere, I think adding hostas is a great place to start. Plant the large ones in the back with the smaller ones in the front.
I also like breaking those hostas up with different ornamental grasses like the light green one below or with different ferns. These types of plants alone give you a great variety of textures and colors.
We live in a climate where it gets really cold in the winter which can make it harder to choose plants. What I mentioned above works really well for us in our climate though.
If you live in a warmer climate then you have a lot more to choose from for sure.
Of course, let’s not forget about the texture and colors the rocks add to the landscaping. They are always my husband’s favorite part. He is almost like a caveman collecting big rocks and taking pride in grouping them. LOL
I recently found the perfect faux rock to cover our pool pump that is hidden by the lounge chairs above.
We have a little herb garden to the right of the pool where the rock stairs are leading up to the rock seating area and wall.
Below are also two cellphone photos I took while we were just hanging out one night to show you what the pool looks like at night. We love it!
You might be interested in reading my blog post about my favorite decorative outdoor solar lights that I use in our yard.
Designate an area for your pets
My pets have always plaid a huge role for me when I was growing up with dogs and now loving and owning cats. Designating an area in our yard is a must for us and we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Behind the table, you can see our cat enclosure. A tunnel leads to it from our living room window and another tunnel leads up to our upper patio.
Since I originally wrote this post we bought a new affordable table and chairs for the patio which I love so much.
They love being outside with us this way. It is way too dangerous for them to roam the neighborhood. If you watch my cat enclosure video or pool video then you can hear the gunshots from the outdoor shooting range. We also have cat-hating neighbors and busy streets which is why we feel the need to keep them safe.
The tunnel leads to the below space on the upper patio at the top of our sloped yard.
Find out HERE how to build a tunnel like that and HERE how to build an enclosure)
The next image is an older photo of the upper patio (see more HERE). The smaller enclosure is to the left of the hammock:
I think we were able to fit a lot of special little areas within our tiny, narrow, sloped yard and it is perfect for us. I hope that you were able to get some ideas to use in your own yard.
One more thing, I even treat our front porch as a small room and created a cozy covered area with a vintage rattan sofa that I found on Facebook Marketplace for $50. (or keep checking Craigslist)
Below you can see the new cozy look of our porch:
Julia, your back yard has turned into such a fabulous garden and that pool and patio area is to die for. I love what you did with the pool, it is totally amazing.
Thank you Marty! We love haning out outside
Hello Julia,.What a fantastic backyard you created. What did you do to your stock pool on the outside and the inside? Was it to protect yourself from the hot metal?
Thanks, Diana! It is to protect the metal from rusting and you can read all about it in my blog post: https://cuckoo4design.com/our-new-stock-tank-swimming-pool-in-our-sloped-yard/
I loved reading your stock pool post and seeing the rest of your backyard today is so fun. You have some great zones and beautiful landscaping. Thanks for sharing all of your tips!
Thanks Kathy! We love our yard
I am amazed at how you have turned a small space into such a paradise. You use every inch! The little pool is a really neat idea for a small yard. You are so talented Julia!
Thanks Donna, we tried to squeeze in as much as possible while trying to not overdo it.
you guys have made your backyard such a beautiful retreat for you and your animals! i love it so much! i am in love with that stock tank pool, and suddenly have a watermelon craving.
oh my goodness I want to be out there right now!! I love the cat enclosure too.
Thank you Jessica, I hope the weather will hold up this week so we can be out there.
So cozy and unique. I really love the stock tank pool and all of your landscaping!
Thank you so much Nancy
You created a relaxing backyard. You can tell a lot of work was put into giving yourself a slice of peace and calm.
Thanks so much Tammara
Your yard is fabulous. Wish my hostas looked as healthy as your do! Do you have problems with slugs eating your hostas? They seem to love mine.
Hi Ann, they only occasionally do but it’s not a problem. We have a problem with carpenter bees and ants instead
It’s so wonderful Julia! Congrats!
Thank you so much Meryl!
Hi Julia –
What you have done to your small backyard is truly remarkable! Most homeowners would have never saw the potential and vision you had for it. It is beautiful and your own piece of paradise. I hope you get to enjoy many hours out there this summer and beyond.
Thanks so much Diane! It all took a very long time and it was worth it for us.
Beautiful! Great ideas and many thanks for sharing. I love how you have provided such a safe and great looking space for your fur babies so they are always included, too. This is how it should always be. Very safe and able to join the family since they are a huge part of it. I love including large rocks and small boulders for landscaping.
Thanks Debbie, I wish I could screen in my entire yard so they could come outside with me wherever I am. I know they don’t like not being able to sit with me outside.
I could get lost for hours enjoying this backyard oasis!! Absolutely glorious … I’ll be over in a bit 😎
Thank you Jessica, visitors are always welcome 😉
I am smitten with your cool stock pond! Your yard is so unique and the landscaping is beautiful. The cat run is my kiddo’s favorite part.
Thanks Corinna, I wish I could screen in the entire yard so they could hang out everywhere with us.
SO dreamy! I love what you did to the stock tank!
Thanks Audrey, we really love it and have used it a lot.
What an incredible backyard!!! Oh what I would do to have this as my outdoor space! That pool is amazing and the cat enclosure is just the coolest ever!
Thank you Shelley, we do love it lots 😉
Your yard is so inviting…love all the little areas.
You certainly made the most of a small yard …especially love the pool.
Thanks so much Margaret
This is amazing. This would definitely be were I would be hanging out the entire summer.
Thank you Janelle, we sure will be hanging out there a lot
Oh my gosh that stock tank pool, that is so awesome my kids would go crazy! And all of your lush landscaping, what a perfect backyard!
Thanks Tina, my kids love it too, even though they are older already.
Oh this is gorgeous!!!! Love all of the changes you made to your yard. It’s completely ready for Summer now!
Absolutely stunning! Love how you kep it so natural and how you incorporate your plants, herbs, rocks and pool, not to mention pet friendly.
Thank you so much Ofelia!
This turned out amazing! As someone with a background in landscape design, I really appreciate your use of texture and how you incorporated plants around your space. Great work!