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Summer is just around the corner, and with it comes outdoor opportunities for warm evening barbecues, cocktail parties under the stars, sunny lunches, and quiet dewy mornings. With some simple backyard upgrades, you won’t have to travel far to feel like you’re making an escape. From pergolas and drapery, to brick pavers and landscaping, spruce up your backyard with these tips big and small straight from our designers.


Backyard Privacy Fence

Keep your backyard free of prying eyes or hide unsightly walls and equipment with a fence. It doesn’t take pounding posts into the ground to enclose your space or create a sense of seclusion. With a quick trip to Home Depot, Havenly’s VP of Creative and Design, Shelby Girard, and her husband created a privacy fence to blur the neighbor’s view from their kitchen into Shelby’s urban backyard. With a modest budget and a free weekend, they were able to knock this project out just in time for summer outdoor dinner parties. 


Backyard Pergola

Fold up your faded umbrella—there is more than one way to shade your backyard. Swathing a pergola with drapery adds a textured, elegant element to your backyard as well as a sophisticated level of privacy and shade from harsh midday rays. Tie the curtains back to let in a breeze, or let them fall together for more intimate moments. 

Synthetic panels from brands like Perennials and Sunbrella are low maintenance and resistant to fading and mold, making them a great fabric option for your backyard. All you need to keep them clean is an occasional power wash, then, just let them hang to dry in the sun. You can even forego drapery hardware by installing the panels between two wooden braces at the top of your pergola or roof overhang. 


Backyard with Pavers

If you have an outdoor space of just gravel or grass, it can be hard to define seating and dining spaces if the furniture doesn’t have a stable base. Add a solid surface to your backyard for a sturdy place for your furniture to rest. If you don’t want to break the bank, add brick pavers in lieu of a full-on deck installation. Keep a border of grass or stone to plant a garden or add organic interest to your backyard, and then lay brick pavers to help ground your furniture—and ensure your glass of wine isn’t going to topple mid-party.


Backyard Seating

The arrangement of furniture in your backyard transforms simple seating areas into intimate enclaves suited for everything from a good conversation to a solo cup of coffee. Separate from just a dining table setup, a loveseat facing a pair of armchairs begs friends to stay and chat a while. In the corner, a small bistro table with a chair becomes an idyllic spot for a glass of wine in the evening. Think of setting up mini “rooms” here and there for a storied setting to host—whether it’s a barbecue with friends and family or a quiet morning for yourself. 


Potted Plants

Can’t change your landscaping or don’t have a large yard or grassy area? Add color and life by arranging potted plants outside and around the perimeter. Create layers by alternating taller potted trees with shorter shrubs and flowers, and let vines crawl up your fence or a trellis. For drier climates, opt for cacti and arrangements of succulents. You can even plant vegetables and herbs to enjoy fresh produce straight from your own backyard.


string lights

Much like it is in your home’s interior, lighting elements make a huge difference when it comes to the ambiance of your outdoor space. In your backyard, lights not only brighten the space and let the party continue into the night—certain fixtures, such as citronella candles, can help keep the pesky bugs at bay. 

A collection of votives on the table or arrangement of glass floor lanterns casts a romantic mood on the scene, while tiki torches create a festive feel. String up strands of market lights along the fence or zig-zagged above the table. Some umbrellas even come with pre-lit fairy lights underneath the shade to take it from day to night. Let there be light!

Not sure which backyard upgrade to tackle? Get advice from one of our expert designers!

Words by Avery Johnson