Simple steps to sprucing up small backyards

SF Gate | Jordan Guinn

Even the smallest backyards can leave the biggest impressions. Photo: Shutterstock

No space? No problem. While not everyone has a sprawling backyard, you can still make what outdoor space you do have into an oasis for retreat and socially-distanced gatherings.

One way to do that is with furniture, according to Gail Dunnett of San Francisco’s studio D staging and interior design.

“Built-in benches with cushions, or modular armless chairs, can create small gathering spaces either together as love seats or separated around a small fire pit,” she said.

Ramsey Silberberg, of Berkeley’s Mantle Landscape Architecture, urges those with small yards to think about what makes them want to be outside, then plan an outdoor space accordingly. “Everyone has different things they like to do,” she said. “Some like to use it for socializing, others like to entertain.”

Silberberg and Dunnett offer the following advice for beautifying compact backyards.

Think about color: When it comes to plantings and furnishings, pick colors you love. Little details can bring a place to life. Vibrantly colored flowers and furniture cushions can dramatically alter a backyard’s appearance.

Consider adding an umbrella or trellis: A barrier from sunlight can provide welcome shade on hotter days.

Heat things up: If your backyard or patio receives a lot of shade, consider adding a heat lamp or outdoor fireplace.

Create a focal point: A fountain or a bird bath can provide something for the backyard to revolve around.

Hang planter boxes from the fences: This frees up space on the ground and beautifies a backyard in a flash.

Update the surface: Depending on the quality of your pavement, you can add reinforcement tiles, or mortar over the concrete to create an individualized look.

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