Wheelbarrow with spade in landscaped yard.

10 Front And Backyard Landscaping Ideas

Michelle Giorlando8 minute read
UPDATED: July 10, 2023

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When you own a home, you not only get the pleasure of decorating the interior, you get to decorate the outside, too! Aside from being nature’s art palette, landscaping is the perfect way to show the world your style and add some visual interest to your home’s exterior. If you’re looking for landscape ideas, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s look at the principles of landscape design for both the front yard and backyard, how to execute your designs and how much you can expect to pay.

What Is Landscaping?

Landscaping is a way to modify or enhance an outdoor space by adding certain design elements and attractive features. Landscaping design can increase curb appeal as well as a home’s value.

You may even save money by landscaping. Planting trees or shrubs can help shade your home and reduce your energy costs on summer days, can absorb water and prevent it from leaking into your foundation and can help insulate the foundation.

Plus, landscaping is creative! You can curate your front and backyards to cater to your specific interests, needs and personal style, which can be a fun and exciting home project.

Need extra cash for home improvement?

Use your home equity for a cash-out refinance.

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5 Front Yard Landscaping Ideas

Your front yard is your main place to showcase curb appeal. It’s the first impression people will get when they see your house. Let’s look at different ways to make a beautiful, harmonious front yard landscape design.

1. Play With Color And Texture 

Color and texture are integral ways you can make your landscaping stand out. You can add colors through accessories like plant pots or through practical materials like pavers. Choose colors that complement your home’s color or go bold with bright and cheerful hues. If you can’t find accessories in the colors you want, consider spray paint – it comes in many colors, so you can achieve your exact desired palette.

You can play with color and texture in the plants you choose as well. Consider mixing up leaf types, heights and leaf and flower color. Mix softer, airier plants with spiked grasses for some visual interest. Planting annual flowers in your yard gives you an opportunity to tailor your color palette yearly. If the work of planting year after year isn’t your favorite, you can take a shortcut by buying pre-planted hanging baskets and arranging them around your yard, hanging some and resting others on stands and on the ground.

2. Get Creative With Shrubs And Trees 

Using shrubs and trees in your landscaping can provide height, shade and privacy. Shrubs planted near your home can help absorb water and help keep your house cool. Don’t overlook the benefits of property line landscaping, either. Landscaping the edges of your property can provide privacy and help define where your land begins and ends.

Shrubs and trees are a low-maintenance way to add greenery to your property, and they can also serve as a backdrop for showier plants. If you’ve got shade in your yard, consider plants like hostas, which are low maintenance and harder to kill. They come in a variety of hues, ranging from light green to dark blue.

3. Add Tasteful Decor 

Put the finishing touches on your yard by adding a few pieces of décor, whether whimsical in the form of garden gnomes or sophisticated with a modern water feature. The beauty of DIY landscaping is that you can tailor your decor to your own style. Other items to consider are wind chimes (just make sure they’re not so loud that they’ll disturb neighbors), gazing balls, benches or birdbaths.

If you’re thinking about a water feature of any kind in your front yard or unfenced backyard, check local ordinances for any safety requirements to keep local kids protected.

4. Add Lighting

Curb appeal isn’t only for the daylight hours. Add some nice visuals to the evenings with outdoor lighting. Solar-powered lighting is a low-cost way to make sure your yard stands out in the dark, while lanterns add to your décor and path lights help guide people down your driveway and walkways safely.

5. Take Care Of Your Lawn 

Though plants and decor are more exciting to show off, don’t forget to take care of your lawn. Maintaining a tidy lawn is an integral part of landscape design. It’ll help your yard look polished and add to the curb appeal. Keep your lawn watered and the grass cut. Don’t forget about weeding, raking leaves and getting rid of lawn grubs, either. If you’ve got kids or dogs, you’ll want to clean up after them as well.

Need extra cash for home improvement?

Use your home equity for a cash-out refinance.

NMLS #3030

5 Backyard Landscaping Ideas

While your front yard is a great canvas to show off your home, your backyard is your own personal retreat. Personalize it to your own style and function. Here are a few ways you can do this.

1. Make It Functional For Multiple Purposes

Figure out all the ways you want to use your backyard and tailor your design to those purposes. Maybe you want to install a swimming pool, swing set or trampoline. Maybe you’d like a sophisticated retreat with an outdoor kitchen and bar for entertaining. Find the commonalities in all your desired functions and create a blank canvas that you can personalize. Having furniture, décor and equipment that you can move around can help you use your space for different purposes.

2. Upgrade Your Backyard Patio 

Landscaping isn’t just about plants and lawn. There’s also more hardscape landscaping, which includes such features as pavers, rocks and patios. One of the most exciting things you can do in your backyard is to add or upgrade a patio. A patio tends to be on a typical home buyer’s wish list. Because of this, patios can add more value to your home.

For a warm gathering place with s’mores, consider installing a fire pit. For a cooler shaded area, add a pergola, and string outdoor lights or lanterns around it for an evening retreat.

If you don’t have a patio or deck, consider building one with pavers, poured and stamped concrete or wood. Patios are a great choice for a small yard – just make sure it’s proportional and doesn’t take up the entire outdoor space.

3. Design Your Dream Garden

Create your perfect garden in your backyard landscaping plans. Gardening can be therapeutic but doesn’t have to be a lot of work, depending on the type of garden you choose.

There are many different garden ideas to consider, including eco-friendly landscaping ones and low-maintenance ones.  

Flower Garden

Flower gardens are one of the most popular types of gardens. While they do require regular upkeep, these gardens are perfect for attracting bird, bees and butterflies, and for providing lovely summer flowers. If you want to change up the colors and styles of your flowers, planting annuals gives you the opportunity to do so each year. If you’re looking for a slightly lower-maintenance flower garden without the yearly planting, plant perennials that come back year after year.

Whether you plant annuals or perennials, consider putting in flowers that bloom in different seasons so you have colorful blossoms from spring to fall. Research plants native to your area as these are especially good for attracting wildlife and helping them thrive.

Planting flowers in levels draws in the eye, so plant taller flowers and grasses at the back of your garden, and plant shorter, spreading ones in the front. Here’s another place for you to play around with color and texture – finding plants with complementary colors creates a harmonious feast for your eyes.

Fruit And Vegetable Garden

Be your own produce provider and consider planting a fruit or vegetable garden. Not only will you save money at the grocery store or farmer’s market, but you’ll also be able to grow your favorites with no pesticides or exposure to outside germs.

Research your local climate and figure out what grows well in your area. There are also plants that do even better when planted together, called companion plants. They support each other and provide each other with nutrients. Carrots, beans, potatoes, corn, peppers and onions are among the most popular companion plants.

One factor to remember is that animals will likely think of your garden as their own personal buffet, so you may want to put in a little sweat equity at the outset of the season and build a chicken-wire enclosure to keep the critters away.

Herb Garden

For a lower maintenance garden, plant herbs. These are especially functional for smaller spaces, as herbs can thrive in pots as well as in the ground. You’ll save money at the grocery store, because herbs can be expensive, and you can’t beat fresh herbs to make your food taste exceptional.

Water Garden

A water garden, or rain garden, is a beautiful addition to a backyard. Water gardens are usually centered around a water feature such as a pond, waterfall or fountain, and often contain water plants. You can also add plants that thrive near the water to surround your water feature. You may even want to add fish, turtles or frogs to get the full spectrum of nature in your backyard.

As always, check your local ordinances for any water safety requirements, especially if you’ve got small kids or an unfenced backyard.

Rock Garden

If you’re looking for the lowest-maintenance garden of all, consider a rock garden. Not only are they low maintenance, they’re drought-tolerant as well, making them ideal for nearly any climate.

Your rock garden can simply contain rocks, or you can add some greenery, cacti, flowers or succulents. Choose colors that complement the hues of your rocks and pebbles. Plants that spread, such as sedum, are an ideal choice for a rock garden.

Rain Garden

Rain gardens are not only attractive, they’re useful, too. They’re effective in diverting water from your home by collecting water runoff and filtering it back into the ground. A rain garden is made up of layers of mulch and soil and native plants. Native plants tolerate water and are used to the local soil, making them likely to thrive. Ideally, your rain garden should be located at least 10 feet away from the house and your yard should slope toward it.

4. Create A Backyard Getaway

Your backyard can serve as a place to escape the daily hustle and bustle. We might not ever outgrow the love of playhouses, so if you’ve got the space, consider adding a retreat like a she shed, artist retreat or reading nook. You can either renovate an existing structure or buy a kit and DIY your own retreat.

5. Make A Playground Paradise

If you’ve got children or grandchildren, consider adding play equipment to bring the park to your backyard. Whether you add a simple swing to a strong tree limb or go all out with a giant play structure, make sure to address safety by adding mulch or rubber to the ground, and trimming back any plants or trees to avoid tangles.

How Much Does Landscaping Cost?

The cost to landscape your yard will vary depending on many factors. The complexity of what you want to do with the space is a big factor, as well as the square footage, materials you’ll need and any labor required.

It’s less expensive to do it yourself if you’ve got the time and ability to do it. However, you may want to outsource it to professionals who know exactly what to do. The average cost for landscaping services is around $700. You can expect to pay around $4 – $12 per square foot for basic services, but it really depends on your area and what you need done. It’s a good idea to compare quotes from front and backyard landscaping services to get a better idea of what you can expect to pay to spruce up your outdoor space.

The Bottom Line: Use These Landscaping Ideas To Inspire Your Next Home Project

Whether you decide to DIY or hire a professional to help you execute your designs, landscaping your front and backyard can add value to your home, enhance your curb appeal and create a personalized oasis for you to enjoy for years to come. Interested in more DIY and renovation projects? Check out more homeowner tips.

Need extra cash for home improvement?

Use your home equity for a cash-out refinance.

NMLS #3030

Michelle Giorlando

Michelle Giorlando is a freelance writer who lives in metro Detroit. When she's not writing about homeownership, finances, and mortgages, she enjoys performing improv, gardening, and befriending the wildlife in her yard.