6 Backyard Design Rules You Should Break in 2021

Meanwhile the birds are chirping, flowers are blooming and the cloudless, sunny sky is at the door. When the weather is warmer, more people are spending time outdoors – and there’s no better time to rethink your backyard design and try something new.

“While we limited ourselves to our homes in 2020, many of us had to restore a sense of normalcy by using extra space. An empty garden is the perfect canvas to paint a new reality, ”says Ashley Renne Nsonwu, host of the Ashley Renne show on the Smart Healthy Green Living streaming service.

The way you decorate your garden is definitely a personal preference. If you like your grill in the front and in the middle then definitely go for it. However, if you want to move the envelope with your exterior decor, our experts have some suggestions.

Breaking Rule # 1: Neutral is best

Different size pavers


Who wants a boring outdoor area? Our experts recommend experimenting with color, pattern, and texture.

“Nowadays there are more ways than ever to create interesting patterns on the floor with paving stones of different sizes, whether three-part, single or mixed,” says Joe Raboine, director of residential hardscapes at Belgard. “Add contrasting inlays or borders and your outdoor living space can be turned into a work of art.”

He recommends following the rule of three by limiting mixed items to no more than three combinations.

“When the sidewalk layout is ready, you bring the same elements into the function as fireplaces, kitchens and walls,” says Raboine.

Breaking Rule # 2: Your lawn should take up the most space

Let’s face it, the lawn has traditionally been the crowning glory of a backyard. Not so much anymore!

“People are moving away from the idea of ​​an unused lawn. Transform that manicured lawn into a functional outdoor sanctuary in 2021, ”says Nsonwu. “You can use your garden to grow food, compost, collect rainwater and attract pollinators. You can set up an outdoor yoga / meditation room, a kids’ play area, an alternate work environment for your Zoom calls, socially detached seating areas for friends, or even a greenhouse. “

Break Rule # 3: Manicure Your Shrubs and Trees

Photo by Hendricks Construction

Tailor-made backyards have passed. In a post-pandemic world, formal outdoor spaces with perfectly manicured shrubs and cookie cutters need to disappear.

“We want spaces that feel natural, not curated. Sprinkle trees and shrubs in your garden to sculpturally enlarge your space, ”says Nsonwu.

“As you play around with your garden design, try to evoke the same sense of wonder you get when walking through lush forests, wild deserts, or untamed fields,” she adds. “Invite your woodier plants to mix and match with your flowers. This creates a more dynamic wildlife ecosystem and a deeper sensory experience for you. “

Breaking Rule # 4: Outdoor living is for the day only

Backyard lightingAdd backyard lighting.


Outside is the new inside, so design your garden space for pleasant evenings. The key element for a habitable garden that can be used at night is lighting.

“LED lighting has made it easier than ever to add outdoor lighting,” says Raboine. “These lights can be integrated into the entire landscape and controlled with apps. You can even change the bright colors with the seasons and holidays. “

Breaking Rule # 5: Keep It Simple

“Outdoor living spaces are not just for barbecuing and relaxing,” says Raboine. Outdoor games are more popular than ever. So round off some for your garden.

“Add a feature like an outdoor chess game, cornhole, pool table or bocce court,” he adds.

A permanent feature like a bocce court can also add value to your home in case you ever want to sell.

Breaking Rule # 6: Exotic Plants Are A Must

Photo by C&H Landscaping

Because sustainability is such an important issue, people know how their buying decisions can affect the planet, and that includes the plants you buy for your garden. Exotic plants may look fabulous with their colorful, sculptural flowers, but they can do more harm than good in your garden. They can adversely affect native plants and wildlife, and may require more maintenance (and more resources like water and artificial sunlight) to keep them alive.

“A greener approach to gardening means turning to native plants to beautify your garden rather than invasive, exotic plants,” says Nsonwu. “Find native plants from your local kindergarten that work with your desired aesthetic. They are essential in preventing the ecosystem from being thrown out of whack while exotic plants cause biodiversity loss. “

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