How to create a wow-worthy backyard.

Deidre Plotnick June 19, 2020
Couple seated on wicker chairs on an outdoor, designer inspired patio
Do you experience “backyard envy” when you see those stunning designer-decorated outdoor spaces in magazines? Do you wish your own backyard looked as magical during the day as it did beneath the stars? Well, while you might not be able to have a backyard quite as large as those featured in the home décor magazines, you can have one that’s just as enchanting.  All it takes is a little planning, a little effort and a can-do attitude. Here’s how:

Get your “canvas” ready.

It’s always easier to work with a nice clean canvas, so put in some elbow grease before you start. Do some weeding, remove plants that have seen better days, prune any trees that may have gone rogue and make any repairs to your fence, if needed. Not the hands-on gardening type? Yardly can help with your cleanup and provide ongoing lawn services, so you can get your lawn shipshape without lifting a finger. Better yet, as a CAA Member show your CAA card and enjoy 10% off.1

Start by choosing a look.

Whether you’re more country casual, zen and minimalist, bohemian, formal or anything in between, your backyard should make a statement about your sense of style. If you’re not sure where you taste lie, have a look at how you furnished your home to get a sense of your style. Need ideas? Decorating magazines like House & Home and Style at Home always provide great inspiration.

Pick a colour palette that pleases your palate.

Your look will likely guide you down a colour path. For instance, modernists and zen types will likely gravitate towards whites, blacks and earthy tones. Cottage casual fans will lean towards whites, pale blues and beiges and bohemian types may lean towards rich jewel tones. Dulux paints has all the latest colour palettes to choose from and CAA Members save on regular priced paints when shopping online. Use your colour palette to paint your fence or deck and when selecting the cushions and umbrella for your patio set. Then, introduce pops of those same colours in your flower beds, planters and even when picking out your outdoor table décor. Remember that whatever colour scheme you choose should blend nicely with the exterior colour of your home.

Man and child on backyard patio furniture styled with matching orange and white colour scheme.

Create “rooms”.

Think about your outdoor space as a series of “rooms”. Now that the weather is warmer, you may want to start working outside more, so where can you see yourself setting up your laptop? Where can you envision setting up a dining table? Is there a peaceful, shady spot you can see yourself retreating with a book? Think in terms of a dining area, conversation areas and a quiet area. Your answers may lead you towards building a patio or a deck, as these are great ways to delineate different spaces. Home Depot and Rona have the building materials you need, along with video tutorials to give you instructions and tips on how to do it all. CAA Members even earn CAA Dollars for shopping online at these stores, so you’ll want to have your Membership number handy.

Furnish your spaces.

Today’s patio furniture comes in endless array of options and style. Dining sets and conversation sets come in wrought iron, wicker, wood, resin and more, in just about every colour and pattern. Mix and match umbrellas, awnings and cushions to create visual interest. Add in planters, rocks and decorative accents such as outdoor sculptures and oversized urns to reflect your sense of style. Don’t forget to leave room for a barbecue in the dining area!

Add light to turn up the magic at night.

There are so many ways to make your backyard twinkle under the stars. String lights come in all kinds of shapes, sizes and colours, making them easy to wrap around trees, create a frame for your backyard door, use inside glass bottles, even intertwine with greenery to create a stunning centerpiece. Indigo has a pretty selection of larger sized patio lights which can be used to line fences or strung from branches and CAA Members earn CAA Dollars when buying these online. Lanterns and candles can also create magical ambiance once the sun goes down. Use these to line the edges of your patio or backyard, place them along the edge of a pool, arrange similar sized lanterns or candles down the centrer of your table, create groupings of different sizes around your backyard. Stokes carries both candles and lanterns, and CAA Members save 5% for shopping online.2

Backyard patio at dusk lit with outdoor lights and electric candles.

Flex your green thumb.

Whether you love brightly coloured flowers or prefer to keep everything in shades of green, plants and/or flowers can create texture and beautifully bring together the various rooms in your backyard space. For maximum flower power, combine ground plantings and groupings of flowers in interesting pots. Create a vertical garden on a fence or a lattice, delineate one of the “rooms” in your yard with 4 oversized planters or urns at each corner, plant an herb or vegetable garden and enjoy –literally– the fruits of your labour.  Today’s planters come in a seemingly limitless array of shapes and sizes. Home Depot has a large, well-priced selection of these –as well as annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees galore.

Extra, extra!

When it comes to backyard spaces, the sky is the limit – quite literally! So if you have money left over in your budget, you could always add a fire feature like an outdoor fireplace or a water feature like a burbling fountain or a recirculating pond stocked with koi (just remember to keep the cat away!) For those who love to cook, today’s outdoor kitchens can be designed to include everything from grills to sinks and wine fridges to pizza ovens. A little too pricey for your budget? Go a little less expensive and raise the stakes (and steaks!) with a fire pit. If you have the space, consider adding a hot tub spa or pretty gazebo. 

One thing well worth investing in are propane heat lamps; these are relatively inexpensive and available from most big box stores. By placing these around your seating and dining areas, you’ll be able to continue enjoying your wow-worthy backyard right into fall!

Family seated on backyard patio next to outdoor firelace.