Utilizing Height and Structure in Your Backyard Landscaping

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We all enjoy a good lounging session, and one of the best places at home for lounging other than the living room is sitting outside in the backyard and taking in the breath of fresh air. However, most backyards don’t get any love or attention other than the casual weekend when you have to start up the lawnmower and deal with the unkempt grass.

We see this as a growing issue because backyards are the absolute best places where you can get creative with a landscaping project and squeeze some extra value out of your home. So to pull at your heartstrings for home design, we’re teaching you how height and structure can drastically enhance the aesthetics of your backyard.

Won’t That Make Things Look Cluttered?

Of course, it may sound counterintuitive to introduce varying height levels and overbearing environmental structures and expect it not to look cluttered, but the mind can often be deceiving. You’ll be surprised to find out that many seasoned real estate investors have already made the shift towards more modern designs and shown great success with multi-level layouts and slopes.

Sure, the traditional backyard is often depicted as spacious, clear, and a tree for shade, but this concept is now outdated and offers no real value other than some extra room for a potential garden. In fact, the proper application of height and structure can achieve more functional space for a backyard if used correctly.

Adopting a Multi-Level Design


The first step to adopting a multi-level design is understanding the different levels present. It helps break down the overall look into different parts of a whole and gives you more creative freedom when isolating specific troublesome areas. These height levels relate to the human body to provide you with a general understanding of how the experience comes together.

  • Knee-Level: Anything at knee-level and below is viewed from above, and this angle is the base for all other layers since it is the smallest. Plants and flowers often fall into this category at this height, but it’s not uncommon to see low walling that can function as seats or a retaining wall to complement a garden.
  • Waist-Level: Potted plants, centerpieces, and flower arrangements all fall into the waist-level category, and they help emphasize corners or act as layers for larger backdrops. If your backyard naturally features a slope or hillside, you can get away with a lot more, but these taller decorations should be used sparingly to avoid outshining other details.
  • Head Height: Last but not least, we have head height and all other structures above the head. There’s not much going for this category other than screen stands and a wall, but if you have the space to experiment, introducing a pergola or other elements can also work to your advantage.

Adding Structures

As for structures, these are often budget-restricted but can definitely make a more substantial impact on the design changes for your backyard. It can help frame areas, allow easier access to a newly-built garden, and even double down as displays for art. Plus, getting the most out of natural forms is also an excellent option, which is why many people are enjoying hedge designs.

  • Contrasting Heights: When it comes to adding structures, you want variance and contrast to emphasize the different levels. For example, low planting matched with a tree arrangement complement each other’s elegance, and the same can be done by matching canopies with climbers. You could also try installing fire-resistant decking to give the backyard and extra step-up and function as an outdoor eating area.
  • Budget Options: It can be pretty costly if you only entertain expensive methods of adding height, like purchasing new elements or building overhead structures for the backyard. However, there are budget options like small trees and shrubs that will grow over time. Of course, the change won’t be instant but think of it as a long-term investment into the aesthetics of your home.

Take Advantage of Perspective

Finally, everything will be for naught if you don’t take advantage of the most critical design principle — perspective. While every individual design element in your backyard can look decent, some parts will look too dominant and disproportionate if the perspective is not accounted for. So, you want to cater to how everything appears to the human eye and how it all converges as one.

As a good rule of thumb, you’ll want to place the larger structures and anything at head-height much farther into the backdrop so that they don’t overshadow any low planting or smaller structures. This concept will help keep everything in proportion and even allow you to create optical illusions or repeating motifs at an angle.

Make Your Backyard Modern

Overall, we want to encourage you to step away from any outdated looks and take a chance at making your backyard more modern. Sure, it might seem daunting at first, but when given enough time and effort, anyone can transform their backyard with just a bit of tweak to height and structure. Feel free to mix and match any of the advice given to help meet your specific design needs.

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