34 Inspiring Backyards
Cool off with these refreshing ideas!
“The homeowners of this gorgeous plot wanted intimate spaces that were comfortable enough for the family, but stylish and elegant enough for entertaining,” says Maureen Sedran of Mark Hartley Landscape Architects. To that end, the team designed and installed a 12-by-35-foot saltwater pool, as well as a multilevel yard that gradually descends in stages from the house. The pool’s deep, shimmering blue gives the whole yard a tropical feel.
Take a video tour of this backyard.
Designer and homeowner Tara Fingold landscaped her back garden herself, shuffling around existing paving stones and reusing her beloved garden furniture from her previous home.
These homeowners wanted to turn their overrun English garden into an effortless escape, so they actually swapped their lawn for a flagstone patio. Meredyth Hilton of Artistic Gardens raised the hot tub so its edging could provide extra seating. Its warm water flows into the pool — an economical way to heat it — in a waterfall effect. Hilton chose local Credit Valley flagstone for the pool surround and patio because it has a slightly gritty finish to prevent slipping. The pool’s Indiana limestone coping was carved into smooth, bathing-suit-bottom-friendly edging. Jets, operated by remote control, provide hours of amusement for kids, and a soothing water fountain sound for adults.
This gorgeous escape in Magog, Quebec, is home to a family of six. Homeowner and interior designer Alyson Wood wanted a nautical, Ralph Lauren-inspired look. Surrounded by bluestone pavers, the large, elegant pool balances the size of the house and echoes its classical style.
See more homes from Quebec’s Eastern Townships.
Homeowners Philip Mitchell and Mark Narsansky returned this classic Chester, Nova Scotia home to its former glory so they could enjoy as a weekend home. Mark likes to garden on the reclaimed-brick terrace, which includes outdoor dining and living areas. An herb garden provides cooking essentials.
See more of Philip Mitchell’s designs.
This lush garden has a symbiosis between formal and natural elements — symmetrical planters and a casual mix of flowers work in perfect harmony. Boxwood-enclosed gardens are filled with foxglove, allium and roses, adding colour to the stone exterior of the home.
See the interior of this home in our photo gallery.
The fences in this urban backyard have latticed panels to encourage the growth of climbing flowers between classically detailed pilasters. Teak benches are reproductions of a design by the British architect Edwin Lutyens. The raised stone terrace is planted with graceful linden trees, forming a hedge on stilts and a backdrop to the view from the terrace. Clipped boxwood shrubs and climbing hydrangea bushes bring structure to the space.
New glass doors overlooking the pool and deck, modern sconces, potted fronds and many coats of white paint helped transform a former garage into a pool house. Brightly coloured cushions and a pair of large umbrellas lend a hotel vibe.
Take a video tour of this yard.
Varying heights of plants and trees creates a secluded outdoor room. An open, grid-like fence allows for glimpses of mature trees on the other side, adding even more greenery and height to the overall design. Neatly clipped boxwood edges the pathway.
Create room to play by keeping furniture minimal on a backyard deck. The cedar backdrop in architect John Tong’s yard is used for plays and as a screen for projecting movies. The lattice wall on the far left is painted out in cobalt, adding some unexpected colour. Using patches of sod and precast concrete pavers form a low-maintenance and cost-effective landscape.
Vancouver architect Clinton Cuddington designed this sleek modern back patio, in keeping with the environmental theme of his home. A vegetable garden, indigenous plants, water-saving automatic sprinklers and permeable concrete pavers all contribute to this backyard’s eco cred.
Toronto interior designer Sharon Mimran approached her garden redesign the same way she approaches her interiors. “I wanted the exterior to look as if it were a part of the interior design. All of the elements I used inside the house — mouldings, panelling, mirrors — I used in the yard,” she explains. Installing an outdoor fireplace is a great way to glam up a backyard. Mimran went with an ethanol-burning fireplace with a weatherproof faux-limestone resin mantel. Gorgeous and practical.
Take a video tour through Sharon Mimran’s home.
Perrett Farm, nestled in a lush area of the Niagara Escarpment, is lined with perennial gardens and timeworn buildings. The owners wanted to add a modern 50-foot saltwater lap pool and entertaining patio without obstructing the views from the house. So, architect Anthony Belcher designed the pool 120 feet away from the house, buffered by a tall garden. An open pergola with slats of ipe wood keep the patio bright, while sleek and simple furnishings add drama.
This tranquil oasis draws its inspiration from the Asian interiors of the home. Keeping colourful flowers to a minimum, the homeowner opted for a neutral outdoor palette to blend in with the fence and reed matting covering the garage. To make the small yard look larger, mirrored windows on the garage reflect the garden and sunshine. Tree-hung lanterns mimic Japanese garden lighting, and invite guests into hidden corners of the yard. For such a small, established backyard, limit patio furniture and let the trees be the focal point.
Pea gravel stone and grass are mixed to create a charming courtyard feel in the backyard of the 2009 Princess Margaret Hospital Oakville Showhouse. Doors across the back create openings to each area of the patio, which can be left open to bridge the gap between indoors and out while entertaining.
A double-sided fireplace will keep guests outdoors and in warm on a cool summer night. A unique herringbone brick pattern makes this one particularly eye-catching. A pair of arm chairs and a small table are all that’s needed for complete relaxation.
This West Vancouver yard is divided into several distinct living spaces, like this cosy sitting area. Make a vignette like this more intimate and private by adding an arbour overhead. Remember that backyards don’t always have to be swathed in grass. Instead, create an inviting terrace like this one with a Pennsylvania bluestone floor. This way, plants and flowers take centre stage without competing with green grass. Also, choose simple patio furniture to keep a garden from looking too busy.
A cramped patio or balcony can be just as usable as a large backyard. Instead of a dining set or several chairs, have guests sit side-by-side on rustic outdoor benches around a low coffee table. Add greenery with hanging plants or choose smaller floor planters to save valuable space and make the patio appear larger.
When planning out a yard, include kid-friendly spaces as well as luxe entertaining areas. A sheer-descent waterfall in the pool is a fun element for swimmers, and also adds ambiance and a soothing focal point when dining on the patio to the right of the pool. A wrought-iron fence sections off a special garden for the kids with a playhouse, butterfly bushes, and edible berry trees. To get a custom playhouse look for less, pick up a DIY unit at a big hardware retailer and use paint and accessories to personalize it.
Borrow a few ideas from this gorgeous backyard in Montreal. Gardening guru Marjorie Harris loves the idea of a path that leads to an open tapis vert, or green carpet. Line the path with boxwood hedges and a mix of annuals and perennials, and surround the “carpet” with taller bushes or trees for privacy. Invest in a rustic wooden dining set and let the summer entertaining begin!
Toronto landscape design/build firm Artistic Gardens created this sanctuary by sinking the yard two feet and building several limestone retaining walls. This trick also brightened up the basement level of the house by letting in more light. Dividing the space into distinct and usable areas is a great idea if space permits. Here, Artistic Gardens created two main terrace areas: a lounging zone along one end of the pool, and a more social living room sitting area near the house.
Warm horizontal wood strips and a steel “urban fireplace” with candles transform a carport wall and adjoining fences into a magical outdoor room. Understated woven furniture offers comfortable but streamlined seating.
A mix of seating types combine for comfy, low-level entertaining. Salvaged tree stumps are painted a silvery grey and work as side tables. Simple runners bring an indoor vibe to an outdoor table setting.
This home is perched on a steep grade down to the beach, so architect Sharon McKenzie designed several terrace levels to make the yard more livable. Wide, shallow steps leading down to the pool double as extra seating for summer entertaining. Separating the sitting area from the dining set and pool loungers creates the feel of an inviting, open-air extension of the home’s interior.
The homeowner converted her garage into a music studio and the driveway into a sitting nook and dining area using striking furniture and bold fabrics. Yews and boxwood add texture and up the privacy. A grapevine ball filled with twinkle lights adds mood lighting for summer entertaining.
This dense shade garden is accented by a Spanish stone fountain, while wax begonias add a pop of colour. Keep heights of flowers and shrubs in mind when planting along a path, so that it doesn’t become too overgrown.
Don’t just dine alfresco, cook alfresco with a barbecue station. If you entertain large groups, invest in a large table, too — this one seats ten! A sleek pergola overhead ties the two areas together, while slim stone pillars keep the views to the garden open.