The 5 Things Every Backyard Makeover Needs

Backyard Makeover Ideas

Before & after backyard makeover inspiration is easy to find online. What isn’t so easy to discover are real solutions to solving the problem of a boring, uninspired backyard. The best backyard makeovers clear out overgrown areas, make room for more usable space and are designed to require less maintenance while boosting visual aesthetic. Bring the Missouri Botanical Garden feels to your own backyard with these ideas that can be used to liven up any outdoor space, big or small. 

Keep it simple by focusing on 1 or 2 small areas of your yard or go all-in with a complete transformation of your entire estate. Even if your yard isn’t a total disaster, you can use these ideas to bring more beauty to your entire yard – front, back, and side-to-side! 

As landscapers we know that interesting plants bring the most natural beauty, so we’ll start there! 

Easy-Care Beauties (Plant Perennials First!)

We see it every year; people go wild buying an overload of sun-loving tropical and annual plants, neglecting to invest in larger statement-making perennial plants or trees first. Your garden will lack height & depth if you don’t allow for perennials to mature and become a focal point of your yard. Choose native plants or cultivars to add low-maintenance beauty to your garden. Flowering quince, American beautyberry, Spicebush, Spirea, Bottlebrush buckeye, Azalea, Hydrangeas and a variety of evergreens make excellent choices to transform bare yard spaces. See more plant recommendations here. 

If you are selecting plants on your own, start by assessing conditions. Plants aren’t going to thrive if they aren’t placed in ideal conditions, and a struggling plant will never look good, no matter how pretty they look in pictures. Give sun-loving plants the bright, light-filled spaces they love and do the same for shade plants. Perennials can take several years to fill in and look full, like the native-forward garden design below. Familiarize yourself with the “sleep, leap, creep” general rule of thumb for newly planted native & perennial plants. It can take up to 3 years for plants to really have that WOW factor, so patience essential. 

Plan for Pathways 

The best backyards have different sections, or “outdoor rooms” that create a clear, inviting path from your home to the pool, patio, or side yard. Pavers, stones, gravel, mulch or bricks can be used to connect your backyard spaces. Larger format pavers designed with permeable features are popular for new pathway design projects. Your new outdoor walkway can then be surrounded by border garden beds or other visual elements like outdoor art that can provide privacy or pops of color. Sometimes the direction and flow for the new path is a no-brainer when you follow dusty trailways already created by foot-traffic, like the before & after sideyard makeover below. Outdated or crumbling paths can be redefined or spruced up to add an instant boost of curb appeal and aesthetic. 

backyard makeover with stepping stones

Creature Comforts 

Make spending more time outside irresistible by adding special features that invite you outdoors. For your yard that might mean creating a shady spot to relax in. Or, that might mean building privacy between a neighbor’s home or shared backyard spaces which is super popular for properties with a shared common space. A landscape design can also create more interior privacy by creating a natural screening outside of windows or sliding glass doors and entryways. 

Use outdoor furniture & visual pieces to make your backyard feel more comfortable. A short retaining wall can double as an outdoor bench. A set of bistro lights always adds instantly to ambiance. Pillows, cushions, birdfeeders, umbrellas, festive glassware & colorful throws or towels all make an outdoor entertaining area feel more special. Big outdoor containers filled with plants can be strategically placed to hide utilities or bare spots. Outdoor sculptures or statement pieces like windchimes bring charm to any patio or garden. 

Cutting Garden Classics 

Smart planting can yield you a garden of endless vases filled with beautiful blooms to bring inside of gift to others. Plant Black-eyed Susans, Coneflowers, Salvia, Gladioli. Plant zinnias as an annual for huge, vivid blooms that are easy to grow and make extraordinary flowers to use in floral arrangements. Cut blooms to bring inside or enjoy them outside – the choice is yours. A few perennial favorites for a cut flower garden include: 

  • Peony
  • Yarrow
  • Asiatic Lily
  • Sea Holly
  • Balloon Flower
  • Oriental Poppy
  • Liatris

Mix plants into your existing garden beds or plan for a whole new space for a cutting garden. Unused raised vegetable garden beds can also be repurposed to plant a gorgeous new cutting garden space if you aren’t growing your own produce any longer. 

Smart Planning 

For updates beyond a few outdoor throw pillows & a hanging basket, you’ll need a plan. High-impact backyard makeover projects include outdoor kitchens, retaining walls, new patios, or a total demolition of a space that is beyond repair. A simple sketch and list of materials can work wonders for a small, DIY garden makeover. For bigger renovations, a professional landscape design will include all aspects that need to be taken into consideration. A backyard design can be created on your own, or with help from a pro. 

Find more inspiration for your backyard makeover on social media. We share before and after pictures, yard renovation inspiration and information about plants. We happily answer questions, so feel free to shoot us a photo of your backyard space as-is, to get an expert opinion before you get to work. We also provide free on-site landscape design consultations anywhere in the St. Louis area – including Chesterfield. All you have to do is send us a message to get started!