We see beautiful, luscious backyards all the time, whether in magazines, on TV, or even at a friend’s house. Maybe you’re dreaming of your own perfect backyard, but looking at a current backyard that is too uneven, or just plain bare. Don’t fret! Everyone started somewhere with their backyard goals, and although the task may be daunting, there are many steps you can make to transform your backyard. From easy “Do-It-Yourselfers”, to professional projects, here are some ways you can make your backyard beautiful.

Level up – Uneven, sloped or bumpy looking yards can not only be unsightly, but can cause a slew of issues. Drainage problems can arise, as well as making your yard difficult to landscape and to use.

If you have a sloped yard, adding tiers with retaining walls is a great way to add both beauty and functionality to your yard. Retaining walls are used to support soil mass, so the soil may be retained at different levels on both sides. You can utilize these walls to create different focal points, which can add sophistication and style. Fill one tier with beautiful flowers and plants, then use another for a garden seating area, including lounge chairs and a small table. With a properly tiered backyard, your options are limitless!

Let there be light – Lighting plays an important factor in how we feel about our surroundings. Think of going out for a romantic dinner, do you picture you and your partner sitting under harsh bright lighting or being surrounded soft mood lighting and candlelight?  There is a reason that a candlelit dinner is a romantic setting and a bright ceiling-lit dinner is not! The same method of changing our perceptions with lighting can be used outdoors as well, and in a number of ways.

Functionality is still the most important reason for lighting, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t look great! Solar powered lights come in a variety of styles, and are a great way to highlight pathways. Porch lights are needed for any home, and for outdoor kitchens you will need task lighting for the grill and any areas you do food prep.

Adding ambient lighting is a small step that can make a big impact to your backyard. Dimmable electric lamps can add atmosphere to your outdoor area, while string lighting or lanterns add a whimsical touch.

Decks and patios –  Creating a lounge area outdoors with seating and tables is the best way to enjoy your backyard paradise. The first step when making a seating or eating area is to install a patio or deck. Patios can be created with poured concrete, pavers or bricks and can be stylized in many ways. Poured concrete can be stained or texturized to add a unique touch, while pavers and bricks come in a variety of colors, shapes and styles. Decks can be stained to a color that you like best, and are great for warmer weather since they don’t give off as much heat as concrete.

Outdoor seating can be as simple as a basic table and chair set, or can be as luxurious as a seating area with outdoor sofas and coffee tables. Outdoor furniture can be bought in sets or standalone, and are available in unlimited sizes, shapes and styles that can fit within any price range.

Optical illusion – If you have a small backyard, try creating multiple focal points! There can be many examples found online of how to make the most out of a small backyard and how to make it look bigger by creating different sections. Tiers are a great solution to smaller yards since they turn sloped areas into usable space.

Privacy please – No one is a fan of nosy neighbors, especially while you are trying to relax in your backyard. Add some privacy with fencing, pergolas, landscaping or lattice. By using one of these methods, your backyard will feel more like a secluded getaway.

Become a gardener – Introducing plants and flowers to your backyard is the fastest way to add color, depth and beauty to your backyard. From a tiered flower bed, to potted or hanging plants, there are unlimited options for any budget. An area specified for a garden full of fresh vegetables and herbs is not just great for your yard, but for your kitchen as well!

Be shady – Most people would agree that sitting in direct sun when it’s hot outside usually isn’t a great time. By adding shaded areas to your backyard, you will be able to enjoy your outdoor space during even the hotter days of summer. Plus, for avoiding direct rays, your dermatologist will thank you for it! Make some shade with umbrellas, retractable awnings, mature trees, and arbors or pergolas with vines.

It’s all in the details – It’s easy to add character or ambiance to your yard. You can install an outdoor speaker set (or for smaller budgets, a waterproof portable speaker) to get the perfect music for any occasion. Fountains of any size can be added for decoration and tranquil sounds, and decorative touches outdoors are just as important as having them indoors. Just be cautious not to over clutter!

Fire away – A fireplace or firepit is a fantastic addition to any backyard. They are a reliable source of heat that allows you to enjoy your outdoor space during colder weather, are a great gathering space, and can be used for open flame cooking. S’mores anyone?

Larger outdoor fireplaces can also add privacy to your backyard by shielding your patio. However, if you have a smaller backyard that may not have adequate room for a fireplace or firepit, you can now buy mini firepits that can be placed on top of your patio table.

Go big –  Swimming pools and outdoor kitchens are ultimate backyard goal items. They both add fun and are great social activities, while outdoor kitchens are also incredibly useful! Swimming pools and outdoor kitchens are completely customizable and can be made for any backyard. There are also financing options available for both, which is great for most budgets. These purchases will also add value to your home as well!

With so many options available, you can get your backyard looking fabulous in no time!