We love having a backyard in Australia, it’s a must-have item on our list when house hunting, but we don’t really love using that outdoor space that much. It seems like too much hard work or the day just gets too busy to step outside.

It wasn’t long ago that just about every home in Australia had a backyard garden, complete with egg-laying hens. Our grandparents or great-grandparents picked spinach and squeezed homegrown lemons into lemonade, even in homes close to the city. Modern families still hold that dream of owning a large plot of grass at their back door, but all we really do is mow it from time to time and complain about mowing it.

Wouldn’t it be great if we actually used that space properly? After all, it’s a quality piece of real estate you paid good money for.

The best backyard makeover

Every backyard and every family is different. Start your backyard makeover plans by making sure these two things will match up at the end. You want to gear all of your project plans towards the backyard that will work for you, so basically that’s a backyard you will want to use, which might not be the one in a gardening magazine or celebrity abode.

Step 1. Define what you want your garden to be predominately used for

  • Exercise
  • Entertainment
  • A play space for the kids
  • Work
  • Relaxation
  • Retreats
  • Floral arrangements

Step 2. Ask yourself the following questions and write down the answers in detail.

  • What do I need to make this space happen? i.e. A sheltered place, a deck, a cubby house, an amphitheatre, a vegetable garden, a patio, a lap pool, an outdoor TV.
  • What would I have in this space that would inspire me to use it more? i.e. a winding garden path, feature lights, comfortable outdoor furniture, a pond with goldfish.
  • What’s stopping me from making this happen? i.e. Not enough space, too expensive, sloped yard, no time.

Now talk to an expert and do your research to find ways to overcome your obstacles and get your dream garden happening. There is always a way around an issue, partly because gardens and gardening materials are so versatile. Many items are not as expensive as you think and you can take your makeover slowly in stages, completing different segments over the seasons to build up to that amazing finished product, that way you increase your outdoor time and property value, without hurting your monthly pay packet. And before you write off a small yard, even a small space can be turned into a great garden if you have the right advice on board so approach a landscape architect, pool planner or a pergola carpenter and talk over your options.

Here are five fantastic renovation ideas to get your green thumb twitching with excitement.

1. A new wall.

The best way to combat a sloped garden or small yard is with a retaining wall, it’s also a great way to give clarity to a large, rambling garden. Separating your garden from your lawn creates a contrast that can be really stunning, is easy to maintain and moves with the times. There are plenty of materials to choose from, some options that are easy to build yourself and lots of room for unique flair. Consider building in seating, steps, water features or lights as well as adding some native plants for some serious backyard magic.

2. Water feature.

The Zen of flowing water is relaxing and mesmerizing to all, not just to cats. There are plenty of designs out there to suit any taste and sizes to suit any garden. From clear shelf waterfalls to bowls that pour into each other or just a large ceramic pot with a water plant and guppies.

3. Corner seating.

It doesn’t matter if you have grass or paving or what your block size is, corner seating works for any shaped garden and opens your entertainment area up right away. Building a corner seat is a great way to use an awkward space and the right angle of the seating looks cosy and inviting. You can have the bench seat built into a raised flower box (natural wood bench looks best, even if your flower box is rendered), or use it to draw attention to a feature wall.

4. Shade.

There are plenty of ways to bring some shade into your garden, it’s simply about matching your personality to the shade you bring in. Gazebo, shade sail, umbrella or a tunnel of dripping Wisteria, think outside the box and you will find that perfect solution to make your garden more useful even in hot or rainy weather.

5. Outdoor TV.

You don’t need an outdoor specific TV to have entertainment in your backyard, all you need is a quality cover that protects your current from the elements. IP rated cases can fit just about any sized flat screen TV and can also house any boxes or amps you might need to make the viewing as clear, fun and up to speed as possible.

Whatever state your garden is currently in, all you need is some motivation to get it to a space that you love to be in. It’s worth every cent to get more out of your backyard, and more out of life and it will give back 100 times over.