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City Backyard Ideas That Will Create An Outdoor Oasis

By on Jul 7, 2016
City Backyard Ideas That Will Create An Outdoor Oasis

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Owning a home in a metropolitan area has many perks. The hustle and bustle of city life is only steps away, yet your house can become your own personal retreat. However, with these perks also comes a few sacrifices, one particular in the amount of space you can call yours. If you’re lucky, you have an urban backyard you can call your own, even if it’s on the smaller side.

If you have an urban backyard, there are certain challenges you may need to navigate and certain decorative elements you may want to incorporate in your landscaping. Here are a few city backyard ideas to help you create the outdoor oasis of your dreams.

Use Multiple Levels

Lawn Care

Urban landscaping can be difficult to manage. Many lawns are left neglected with homeowners simply not understanding how to properly care for them. When I first moved into my home in the city, there were plenty of surprises, like flowers appearing in the middle of the lawn or unkempt greenery across my fence. Take some time and examine your backyard and determine where problem areas are. Then, use a free weekend to clean up your yard. You’ll be surprised at how it transforms!

Many urban backyards have limited area with grass in it and some homeowners can’t justify the cost of a lawn mower. Unless you decide to remove all the grass from your lawn, it will grow quickly. An alternative to investing in a lawn mower is regular lawn care. The average cost for professional mowing services is $61, but the price will vary based on the size of your lawn.

Create A Space for You

In addition to city backyards being typically small, they also tend to sit near your neighbors. This may leave you longing for some solitude outdoors. To increase privacy, you may want to consider installing a privacy fence. There are numerous options for privacy fencing and they average about 6’ tall, a great height to keep neighbors from looking into your backyard. Choose a material that will best match your home. Wood or vinyl are great, versatile choices for your urban backyard.

If a fence is out of the budget, consider incorporating a few shrubs to increase privacy and block noise. Minor maintenance, like trimming and pruning is required to ensure these plants grow exactly how you want them to. Here are a few shrub ideas:

  • Boxwood
  • Danica Arborvitae
  • French Lilac
  • Japanese Holly Bush
  • Nikko Blue Hydrangea
  • Photinia

Create A Pathway

Patio & Paving

To make the most of your city backyard with the least amount of weekly maintenance, incorporate a patio and pavers where you can. Current trends in urban backyards show increased use of walkways and patios versus the traditional lawn and garden backyard. Include a mix of both to give your space a consistent urban feel and cut down on the weekly yardwork tasks.

The material you use could call for different care. If not installed properly, this could result in damage that has to be repaired over time.

Outdoor Furniture

The perfect backyard calls for excellent outdoor furniture! To create a space that you can relax and enjoy, invest in quality furniture that will last for years. If you tend to host backyard parties, consider going for an outdoor couch, making it easier for everyone to gather. If you like to relax on your lawn, try a comfortable Adirondack chair or an outdoor chaise lounge. There are plenty of options, just be sure to invest in a sturdy, weather-resistant product that will last for years to come.

Create character in your yard with the various types of lawn furniture available. For a rustic look, choose wood chairs and tables. To bring a little country to your city life, consider wicker furniture or Adirondack chairs, in various colors. For a modern, contemporary look, focus on lawn furniture with straight lines and big, colorful outdoor cushions.

Incorporate A Patio

Utilize Different Levels

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Create more space by incorporating different levels. If your house allows it, install a small deck or raised patio. By incorporating different levels and heights of space, it can make your city backyard more spacious. Consider using one part for relaxing and the other for BBQ and dining. To keep you and your family safe, be sure to install railings for any deck or raised patio.

Gardening & Plants

Many cities have community gardens, which is great for people who like to garden but don’t have a backyard to do so. However, as an urban homeowner, you can create a city garden of your own, without paying membership fees. Grow fresh vegetables and flowers for your home. 

Using high quality, fertile soil is key to starting your garden. A garden bed works particularly well in urban areas to start with fresh soil and also is a style element to your yard. Soil, in some cities, contain heavy metals, toxins and other contaminates that could ruin the quality of your plants. Research your local soil testing lab and consider getting your soil tested.

Concrete City Backyard

Fire Pits & Fireplaces

One of the best parts about an urban backyard is the ability to roast marshmallows and relax by a fire. It’s hard to find a public space where small, contained fires are allowed. Before deciding between a fire pit or an outdoor fireplace, check with your city’s codes and zoning laws.

Outdoor fireplaces are permanent structures that are great in containing a small outdoor fire. They’re also perfect gathering places in any yard.

Fire pits are great options for those who aren’t ready to commit to the permanence of an outdoor fireplace or looking for a budget-friendly option. Fire pits come in a different varieties and can be found in your local lawn & garden store.


It’s easy to transform your backyard into an urban retreat. With a few simple ideas, you can create a backyard that will take away the busy feeling of living in the middle of a city and provide you some peace in the outdoors.

Looking for more ideas to transform your urban backyard? See How To Make Your Small Backyard Feel Large.

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