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When searching for homes in Chicago, a great backyard is usually left off of the list of must-haves. You might be surprised that there are some great backyards in homes for sale in the city of Chicago.

Tips for Great Backyards

Here are some ideas from

Using the same paving material throughout a yard can make a small space feel larger.

Using the same paving material throughout a yard can make a small space feel larger.


When designing a backyard, hardscape areas, like patios, fencing and walkways, make your yard more usable and private but they also help accent your plants, flowers and other softscape elements. If you’re dealing with a small yard, it may seem like mission impossible to incorporate the necessary hardscape features without making the space feel more confined. But you can create a striking hardscape even if your backyard is short on space — you just need to plan more carefully.

Use the Same Paving Material

Even when space is at a premium, you might have multiple paved surfaces in your backyard, like a patio and walkways. In a larger yard, you can combine different paving materials for each area to create a textured, dimensional look for the landscape. In a smaller yard,using different materials, such as brick for your patio and limestone for your garden path, can make the space feel busy and crowded. So, use the same material for all the paved surfaces in your yard. You might even spring for a luxury paving material, like flagstone, because you won’t have as much square footage to cover and the elegant material will have a big impact in a smaller space. If you can’t match the paved areas in your yard exactly, opt for materials in similar colors to keep the look simple. Stained and stamped concrete can work well for patios and walkways because it can be made to look like other paving materials, including brick, stone and tile.

Change Grade for Patio

When building a patio in a small backyard, opt for an above-grade installation. Instead of installing your patio at ground level, elevate the surface slightly — depending on the surrounding landscape, you might go high as 3 to 4 feet above grade. You’ll need to add steps up to the patio, but those steps help make your yard feel larger and more expansive. An elevated patio design can also help if you have a problem with mud and puddles in your yard.

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Opt for Open Fencing

When you’ve got a small yard, tall, solid fencing can make the space feel even smaller. Instead, choose an open style of fencing. For a simple structure to keep your children or pets inside the yard, a classic picket fence provides traditional charm to your landscape. If you’re on a budget, a basic chain link fence works well. For a little more privacy, try a shorter solid fence that features a lattice or picket design at the top to help maintain a wide open feel.

Add Raised Beds

In a small backyard, raised flower or garden beds maximize space because you can tuck them in any unused corner or spot that might otherwise go to waste. They work especially well for annuals, herbs and vegetables, but you can use them for any of your favorite plants. When building raised beds, choose from wood, concrete, brick or metal. However, if you don’t like the idea of adding raised beds, simple pots or planters are another option — they may be even more convenient because they are easy to move if you want to change the look of the backyard.

About the Author

Jennifer Blair has been a freelance writer since 2001 and has published articles on a variety of topics including finance, sports, education and beauty for several commercial and informational websites. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in writing seminars from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images

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Tim Padavic