Five Backyard Styles to Inspire Your Outdoor Project

backyardThe backyard is an important extension of a home’s living space, so it makes sense a family’s individual style be reflected in its design. By marrying your unique design perspective with your backyard needs, you can create even greater memories with your family and friends, amping up the yard’s purpose and value.

“Mulligan the TurfMutt and I have been working on upgrading our yard this summer, and we’ve created a space that makes it difficult to want to leave home,” says Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the TurfMutt Foundation, which encourages people to care for and use their outdoor spaces. “I think that’s the goal we should all strive for. Even small changes to your yard can make a big impact on how much you and your family enjoy spending time at home and doing what we call ‘backyarding’.”

The first step is to decide which backyard style suits you best and understanding how you’ll use your dream yard, according to Kiser. Here are style suggestions from the TurfMutt Foundation to kick off your creativity in creating a yard style all your own.

Zen Garden

Serenity is the name of the game with a zen garden. Elements could include a relaxing water feature, easy-to-maintain plants and shrubs, strategically placed lighting and a hammock swinging gently in the breeze between two trees.

Play Yard

A play yard has a single mission: to have fun with family and friends. Create zones for all of the activities your family may want to tackle.

Have a budding soccer star? Use the grassy area for a practice field. Need a place to cool off? Think about adding a pool or splash pad. Have kids and pets that need a place to get out the wiggles? Add a sandbox for digging. Remember, live plants, shrubs and trees make great boundaries between different zones in the yard.

Entertainment Oasis

For those who view their home as the hottest spot in the neighborhood, an entertainment oasis is just the ticket. Seating is a must, so map out different areas for eating and conversing. A fire pit can help keep guests warm during chilly evening gatherings, and you can whip up a delicious dinner in an outdoor kitchen.

If your neighbors are nearby, consider a wall of bushes or potted plants to create privacy. Hang string lights to create ambiance and add lots of plants and flowering bushes to create an inviting outdoor atmosphere.

Wildlife Sanctuary

Those who want to create a wildlife sanctuary in their own backyard should opt for a mix of native and adaptive plants that are recognizable and useful for local wildlife. A diverse array of flowering plants attract birds, bees and butterflies.

A bee fountain or hummingbird feeder can help pollinators thrive by providing important hydration. For other wildlife, provide natural sources of habitat by planting shrubs and trees.

Outdoor Office

Taking work outdoors is all the rage for those who want to strike a good work-life balance. Set up your outdoor office for success by selecting a comfortable, quiet spot that offers seating and shade near electrical outlets and a strong Wi-Fi signal.

The appropriate lighting and heating features can help extend the usefulness of the outdoor office. Jazz up your video conference background by making sure trees, bushes and plants are viewable or add a green wall or a tall potted plant behind your seat.

About TurfMutt

For more information, sign up for Mutt Mail, a monthly e-newsletter with backyarding tips and all the news from the TurfMutt Foundation. To learn more about creating the yard of your dreams, visit or download the International Backyarding Fact Book to learn why spending time in our yards and community parks is good for you and the planet.

TurfMutt was created by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI) TurfMutt Foundation and has reached more than 70 million children, educators and families since 2009. TurfMutt has been an education resource at the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Green Apple, the Center for Green Schools, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the National Energy Education Development (NEED) project, Climate Change Live, Petfinder and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. More information at