Avoid these 7 common backyard design mistakes in 2024! Learn how to create a functional and stylish outdoor space with expert tips for furniture, plants, and more.

Creating the perfect backyard living space can be a rewarding endeavor, but it’s easy to make mistakes that could hinder your enjoyment and functionality of the area.

In this post, we’ll explore the seven most common backyard design mistakes to avoid in 2024. From selecting the right furniture and incorporating plants to ensuring adequate sun protection and finishing touches, these expert tips will help you design a backyard oasis that is both beautiful and practical.

Let’s dive into these key insights to transform your outdoor space into a haven you’ll love year-round.

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Do you have a backyard living space you enjoy? It took me years to perfect our outdoor living spaces in the backyard of our former home.

And since we moved? I started all over again. Well, sort of. See the bones are here, I just need to add my spin on them based on how we’ll use each space. And it requires careful thought and planning to achieve what works best for you and your family.

Here’s a good example why. When my second daughter was a baby, we built a two-tiered deck in the backyard. You’d think with all the extra outdoor living space we’d use it. But for whatever reason, we didn’t use the lower deck all that often.

For years!!! Isn’t that silly? We had this great space but rarely sat there.

Here’s where I went wrong and how you can avoid making the same mistakes I did so you can design a backyard living space you’ll never want to leave.

Why You Want to Think Through How to Decorate Your Outdoor Living Space

Designing a backyard living space requires thoughtful planning to balance your lifestyle, needs, and desires. Whether you have an existing patio, deck, or porch, this guide will help you create a space that suits you and your family.

Consider these key elements to create a cozy outdoor living area:

  • Comfort: Choose comfortable furniture and accessories.
  • Functionality: Ensure the space meets your practical needs.
  • Beauty: Incorporate aesthetic elements for visual appeal.
  • Privacy: Create a private retreat.
  • Lighting: Install appropriate lighting for ambiance and functionality.
  • Sound: Consider soundscaping for a pleasant environment.
  • Sustainability: Use eco-friendly materials and practices.

7 Common Backyard Design Errors to Avoid in 2024

Designing an outdoor living space can be an exciting project, but there are several mistakes you should avoid to create a functional and visually appealing space that you’ll never want to leave. Here are some backyard design errors to avoid when designing an outdoor living space.

Mistake #1: Not Considering How a Backyard Living Space Will Be Used

One common mistake when designing a backyard living space is not considering how it will be used. It’s essential to plan with your lifestyle in mind. Think about how you’ll spend time in this space. Will it be for entertaining, relaxing, dining, or a combination of activities?

Understanding the primary function of your outdoor area will guide your choices in furniture, layout, and accessories, ensuring the space meets your needs and enhances your outdoor experience.

This was the biggest mistake I made was purchasing outdoor furniture based on an aesthetic or quick need instead of considering how we would use the space.

You know what I’m talking about right? Have you done that too?

That moment you fall in love with furniture and buy it, but you haven’t totally figured out how you’ll live with it. Yeah, I did that with the lower deck at my former home. This is what my lower deck looked like for several years.

Outdoor Living Space Home Tour
Before we updated our lower deck furniture.

When we built the deck, I wanted to buy a white, all-weather outdoor wicker. It looked so quaint, cottage, and pretty.

So we bought a set with two rocking chairs, a settee, and a coffee table. And I thought we’d use it all the time. Well, if we sat out there 40 times since purchasing it 20 years ago, that might be a stretch.

But why? It’s not because it wasn’t comfortable. It just didn’t work for our lifestyle at the time.

So you have to consider how you actually live before planning and spending money on a backyard living space.

Points to consider:

  • Do you want a dining space where you’ll sit at a table, eat and drink?
  • Or do you want a living space that is cozy, comfortable, and casual like a living room?
  • Do you want cozy nights in front of a fire? (Consider fire safety issues when planning an area for an outdoor fire pit).

Did I follow my own advice after we moved to our new home? To some extent yes and to some extent no because we needed furniture stat that would fit two outdoor spaces: the pool and back porch. It was a tough balance at the time but 3 years later and I’m happy with my choices.

Mistake #2: Choosing Uncomfortable Furniture in Your Backyard Design

Selecting uncomfortable furniture is a major misstep when designing your backyard living space. Comfort is key to enjoying your outdoor area, so invest in high-quality, ergonomic furniture that suits your style and needs.

Whether it’s plush seating for relaxation or a sturdy dining set for meals, comfortable outdoor furniture encourages longer use and enhances the overall experience of your backyard. Don’t sacrifice comfort for aesthetics; find pieces that offer both to create a welcoming and enjoyable space.

Because here’s the thing. If it’s not comfortable, you won’t use it. It doesn’t matter how beautiful outdoor furniture is, if it’s not comfortable, you won’t sit there.

About our new furniture. We wanted to enjoy them this year, so making that purchase was a must. Since I gravitate to all-weather wicker, I stayed with the same color family and style as above, opting for these pool loungers and this sofa set for the back porch.

It all looks similar so it is cohesive and goes with the overall vibe. I read all of the reviews and decided to go with it. And I’m so happy we did because both are functional, beautiful, and very comfortable.

The only regret I think I’ll have are my dogs getting their dark fur on my light cushions but I decided I was sacrificing that to get the look I wanted. For me, I’m all about feeling comfortable, cozy, and enjoying my backyard living spaces every day.

So resist the temptation to buy something just because it’s pretty. Sit in it, lay on it, and read reviews before you buy.

close up of the conversation set on the back porch in my outdoor living spaces home tour with houseplants, flowers, sun hat, cozy blankets and mustard colored house

Mistake #3: Neglecting the Finishing Touches in Backyard Living Spaces

Neglecting the finishing touches can leave your backyard living space feeling incomplete and uninviting. Accessories like outdoor rugs, cushions, throw pillows, and decorative items add warmth and personality, making the space more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.

Additionally, consider adding elements like potted plants, garden sculptures, or water features to enhance the ambiance. These final details not only elevate the visual appeal but also make your outdoor area feel cozy and well-designed.

There weren’t as many options to finish off a backyard living space 20 years ago. But today, there is! Look for things like an outdoor area rug to help define your outdoor living space. Add mood lighting with string lights, lanterns, and outdoor decor.

I’ve had mine for a few years now and still love them. So invest in some outdoor area rugs because you’ll use them for a long time.

flea market finds potted up with heucheras on the front porch with porch swing, fall pillows and cozy blanket in autumn
Same outdoor area rug on front porch

Mistake #4: Overlooking Container Gardens in Your Backyard Living Space

Overlooking the use of container gardens in your backyard living area is a missed opportunity to add color, texture, and visual interest. Backyard plants in containers are versatile and can be easily moved to accommodate different layouts or seasonal changes.

They also allow you to grow a variety of plants, even in limited spaces. Incorporating container gardens can enhance the aesthetic appeal and create a more vibrant and inviting outdoor space. Choose containers that complement your design and select plants that thrive in your environment for the best results.

Every backyard living space needs plants and flowers. And if you haven’t been incorporating them because you think you kill everything, then these tips are for you. Before purchasing plants and flowers, ask yourself:

  • Is this space in full sun (6-8 hours), partial sun/shade (4-6 hours), or full shade (fewer than 4 hours)?
  • Is it close to a water source? How will plants be watered?
  • How much time you can reasonably devote to watering plants
  • What size and type of container will be used.

Once armed with these answers, it is time to shop for plants. And make sure you read the plant tags so you know where to plant things in your garden.

Resist the temptation to purchase plants that won’t work for the light and watering conditions of your backyard living space. When we first moved to our former home 23 years ago, I was a beginner gardener.

I gravitated to plants I wanted versus plants that would work with my light conditions and lifestyle. And as a result, lots of plants didn’t make it. So the short of it is, do your research, understand your soil and light conditions, then plant accordingly.

Mistake #5: Choosing the Wrong Containers for Plants in Your Outdoor Living Space

Choosing the wrong containers for your plants can hinder their growth and overall aesthetic appeal. Ensure your containers have adequate drainage, are the appropriate size for the plants, and match the style of your backyard living space.

The right containers not only support healthy plant growth but also enhance the visual harmony of your outdoor area. Consider materials that withstand outdoor conditions and complement your design to create a cohesive and thriving container garden.

In the early days, the biggest mistake I made was choosing the wrong size and type of container. Small containers dry out more quickly than larger containers. As do ones made from terracotta.

If you live in a place where the winters are cold and wet, terracotta does not overwinter well outdoors and needs to be brought indoors to avoid freezing and thawing. So if you don’t want that kind of hassle every season, there are lots of other container options to choose from.

Since changing from small terracotta pots to larger, all-weather planters, my container gardens have thrived in my outdoor living spaces.

If I don’t plan to leave a container out all winter, I use beautiful pottery and terracotta planters. But I always buy larger sizes. Yes, they are more expensive, but it’s easier to care for the plants in bigger pots.

shade container garden in the zen garden with begonias, sweet potato vines and bacopa
Shade garden container filled with bacopa, begonias, sweet potato vine and calibrachoa

Mistake #6: Inadequate Sun Protection in Your Patio Design

Failing to provide enough sun protection can make your backyard living space uncomfortable and less usable. Ensure you incorporate shade solutions like umbrellas, pergolas, or shade sails to protect against harsh sunlight in your patio design.

This not only makes the space more enjoyable during sunny days but also helps prevent sun damage to your furniture and plants. Consider the direction and intensity of sunlight in your area to choose the most effective sun protection, creating a more comfortable and inviting outdoor environment.

For several years, and I mean at least 10 years, we were not fully utilizing our deck. It was pelted with full sun all day long and was just too hot to enjoy in the dead heat of summer. We tried market umbrellas but they did not provide enough shade to cool the space down They were never large enough.

When we purchased a gazebo like this one, it was life-changing. It created a totally different microclimate that was like 10 degrees cooler. The gazebo shaded the deck all day long. So the deck could be used all the time.

Even when it was raining.

There are so many options out there to shade an outdoor living space that you can build or buy. So make sure you don’t waste time not enjoying an outdoor living space because it’s not shaded enough. It’s an easy fix.

how to set a cozy fall harvest table

Mistake Number 7: Not Taking Time to Enjoy Your Outdoor Living Space

And the biggest mistake we made with our backyard living spaces is not taking the time to enjoy them! After investing time and effort into designing your backyard living space, it’s crucial to take the time to enjoy it. Often, people get caught up in maintaining and perfecting their outdoor area but forget to relax and appreciate the environment they’ve created.

Make it a point to spend quality time in your backyard, whether it’s unwinding with a book, hosting gatherings, or simply enjoying nature. Prioritizing leisure in your outdoor space ensures you reap the full benefits of your efforts.

For years, we hopped from one activity to the next, barely passing go. From school and sporting events to scouting events, to friends and family gatherings, we rarely kicked back to enjoy our own backyard living spaces.

With my kids getting older and recent events, we’ve been home a lot more. And you know what?It’s the best! Especially, when you have a cool, beautiful place to hang.

backyard living on the lower deck at sunset

7 Easy Tips to Design a Backyard Living Space You’ll Never Want to Leave

Now that we know what to avoid, here’s what you SHOULD do to create a functional, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing outdoor living space. Follow these expert tips to transform your backyard into a cozy retreat you’ll enjoy year-round.

Define the Purpose

Consider the primary purpose of the space. Is it for dining, lounging, entertaining, or a combination of activities? This will help you determine the furniture, appliances, and amenities that you need to include. And if it seems like it will be a larger project than you want to take on in one season, consider breaking it up into phases to keep it more budget-friendly.

Choose the Right Location

Look at the location of your outdoor living space and consider its proximity to the sun, wind, and other elements. You may need to consider adding shades, screens, or other structures to protect the area from the elements and make it more comfortable.

If the space gets full sun all day long, invest in a gazebo whether you make one or buy it. From my own experience, you’ll never use the space if it gets pelted with sun all day long.

garden party table decorations with fresh cut zinnias and celosia in glass vases and vintage ball jar glasses

Consider the Size

The size of your outdoor living space will determine the number of people it can accommodate and the types of furniture and features that you can include. Who’s going to be sitting there with you? Is it for entertainment? Or just you and your family? It’s essential to consider how much space you need to create the desired ambiance.

Choose the Perfect Furniture For Backyard Living

Outdoor furniture and accessories play a significant role in the look and feel of the space. Choose high-quality, durable, and comfortable furniture that can withstand the elements so you get your money’s worth.

We’ve had our outdoor dining furniture for several years now. Although it’s made for the outdoors, we take precautions when extreme winter weather arrives by covering them or bringing them into a shed or garage.

Add Plants and Flowers for Vibrancy

Landscaping elements such as plants, flowers, shrubs, and trees can add color, texture, and depth to your outdoor living space. Consider adding landscaping elements that complement the overall design and theme of the area. But also keep in mind how much maintenance you want to do to care for them.

close up of front porch swing with vintage flower pillows, potted plants and an outdoor area rug on the front porch in my outdoor living spaces home tour

Enhance Your Space With Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting can make your outdoor living space more functional, safe, and inviting. Choose a lighting design that complements the overall design of the space and highlights its key features and elements. And if you lack electricity, consider adding solar string lights or lanterns to create mood lighting and ambiance.

Keep it Budget-Friendly

Designing a stunning backyard living space doesn’t have to break the bank. Focus on cost-effective solutions like DIY projects, upcycling old furniture, and selecting budget-friendly plants and materials. Prioritize essential elements and gradually add decorative touches as your budget allows.

Set a budget for your outdoor living space and stick to it. You can get creative with your design and choose affordable materials and features that fit within your budget.

That table we bought for our outdoor dining space was $50 on the Facebook marketplace and it lasted for years under that gazebo. We needed to make it more outdoor-friendly here at the new house but it was a great inexpensive find nonetheless!

Lilac flowers by the Fire Pit Garden at night lit with solar lanters and surrounded by hostas and twinkle lights
7 Mistakes to Avoid When Designing a Backyard Living Space

Enhance Your Space With a Water Feature

Want your backyard living space to feel even more relaxing? Add the soothing sounds of a water feature. No matter the size, there’s a water feature to fit any size and budget.

Adding a water feature can transform your backyard living space into a serene retreat. The soothing sounds of water create a relaxing ambiance and can serve as a focal point in your design.

Consider options like a fountain, pond, or waterfall to enhance the aesthetic appeal and tranquility of your outdoor area. A well-placed water feature not only adds beauty but also promotes a calming atmosphere, making your backyard a place you’ll never want to leave.

Shop for water features by clicking on the picture below.

My Personal Experience: The Wrought Iron Dining Set Dilemma

While designing my own backyard living space, I almost purchased a wrought iron outdoor dining set. It looked amazing and stylish, fitting perfectly with the aesthetic I envisioned. For years we wanted to buy one of those gorgeous wrought iron sets. But because they were outside our budget, we never purchased them.

And looking back, I’m thankful we didn’t because several friends had these sets and I never enjoyed sitting in them. Yet, if we had the budget I would’ve bought them anyway because I loved the look.

Well, fast forward through the years and my tastes changed so we bought these wicker chairs with thick seat cushions instead. And because they are so comfortable, I can sit out here all day long.

And now that we moved? I still love these chairs! They are really comfortable and we have them in the potager garden. This furniture is still comfortable, we enjoy sitting in them, and has lasted for several years. To help it last, we bring it indoors for the winter.

This experience taught me the importance of prioritizing comfort and practicality over aesthetics and cost. Always test furniture for comfort before buying and ensure it meets both your budget and usability needs.

Final Thoughts on These Backyard Living Ideas

Designing a backyard living space that you love requires careful planning and attention to detail. By avoiding common mistakes and following expert tips, you can create a functional, comfortable, and beautiful outdoor area that enhances your lifestyle.

Remember to think through how you’ll use the space, invest in comfortable furniture, add finishing touches, incorporate container gardens, choose the right plant containers, provide adequate sun protection, and, most importantly, take the time to enjoy your creation. Your backyard can become a personal oasis that offers relaxation and joy year-round.

What is your favorite outdoor living space? Do you have any tips you’d like to share? I would love to know more in the comments below.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear! And feel free to share this post with anyone you think would find it helpful too.

To drill down on more beginner gardening techniques and tips, please read these posts:

Thank you for visiting the blog today!

Enjoy your day! xo

Stacy Ling bricksnblooms logo
Bodie in the zen garden

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  1. Your back yard is a dream and, if you are like me, I want to do all the work.
    Had to sell my big home with a huge garden as it became too much for me. I now live in a condo with a small lovely patio but I do miss having a wonderful paradise but just not all the work it took.
    You are incredible!!!!!
    Blessings to you.

    1. Thank you so much Diana! We used to live in a condo so I know – it’s much less outdoor space to work with. I’m sure you miss working in your garden! xo

  2. These are such great tips to avoid! Thanks so much for sharing your tried and true advice for creating an outdoor space. Sometimes it’s just hard to think of everything, but your have!!! Thanks:)

  3. How do you manage mosquitos?? I spend so much time making a beautiful outdoor space and end up not utilizing it when the bugs get bad.