Design for Backyarding

Published: May 20, 2024

“Backyarding” – the act of taking activities typically associated with the indoors outside into the green space around us – will continue taking root in 2024, according to the TurfMutt Foundation, which advocates for the care and use of green space, including our backyards, community parks, green space and school yards. In a new development for this year, the TurfMutt Foundation expects backyarding design to evolve into an ongoing sustainability practice.

Now more than ever, homeowners and designers are recognizing the power of yards and parks doing environmental good, as well as benefitting their health and wellbeing. Homeowners are making improvements in their yards with many goals in mind, thinking about what’s good for their families, pets and our planet.

The TurfMutt Foundation predicts these 10 backyarding design trends for 2024:

Improving Existing Space (Rather Than Moving to a New One)

High interest rates and low housing inventory mean more homeowners have chosen to renovate rather than move into a new home. With interior improvements complete, the focus turns to designing backyard improvements that customize the outdoor space and artfully merge indoor and outdoor living.

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Return of Neighborhood Parties…in the Backyard

Over the last several years, homeowners have invested in their outdoor living areas, and now they are using that space to bring back neighborhood block parties in their own backyards. Outdoor kitchens, spas and well-designed al fresco dining areas support this community spirit with style.

Creating a Backyard Oasis for Fun

From parents looking for ways to lure their kids away from screens to neighbors wanting to connect with friends, homeowners are turning their backyards into a place for fun and games. Some go all out to install a pool or pickleball court while others take a simpler approach like designating a strip of grass for cornhole or a small soccer pitch.

Seeking a Home Near a Park or Nature

Even homeowners looking to downsize still want to maintain a connection with nature. They know backyarding can happen in any size yard and seek additional connection to nature through community parks, school yards and other green space.

Taking Better Care of Living Landscapes

Since homeowners have come to value their lawns, trees and plants more than ever, they are investing in their care like never before. This means investing in equipment for DIY work and calling in landscape professionals, as needed, for pruning, rescuing diseased trees and revitalizing turfgrass, just to name a few.

Choosing Real Grass

The trend of ripping out real grass and replacing it with fake, plastic alternatives is fading as homeowners and communities recognize the limitations – and downsides – of plastic grass. Synthetic turf is hard to clean, hot on feet and paws, and difficult to recycle.

Planting for Pollinators

Once a niche practice, planting for pollinator support is now omnipresent. Homeowners understand the importance of their backyards to provide year-round food and shelter to pollinators like birds, butterflies and bats. And they are selecting plants for their yards with pollinators in mind.

Adding Drought Tolerant Plants

Plants that are especially adapted to drier landscapes are better for water-stressed areas in our environment. Designers and homeowners are doing their research and selecting plants that will thrive in their micro-climates.

Mixing Materials

As outdoor living has become incorporated into daily life, designers are taking care to create cohesive outdoor spaces that conjoin nature and manmade elements. They’re factoring in both landscaping and hardscaping (patios, outdoor kitchens, etc.) and natural aesthetics (trees, boulders, etc.).

Backyard Birding

The birdwatching craze really took flight during the pandemic, but it’s not a fleeting fad. Birdwatching is not only relaxing; it is a great way to connect with nature right outside our back doors.

—By Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the TurfMutt Foundation
Photo credit: TurfMutt Foundation

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