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My Tiny Backyard: It’s Finished! (ORC Week 6)

This post shares modern small backyard design ideas using my beautiful tiny backyard as a canvas! In July 2018, I posted an update about some of the changes we’ve made to this space. See the updated post here!

Small Backyard Design Ideas

Hiya dudes. It’s the last week of the One Room Challenge—reveal week! I must admit, I am quite proud of what our tiny backyard has become. And I am going to put an extra feather in my cap since we did all of this with a 5-month-old baby who wasn’t much help.

one room challenge guest participant logo

Here are the progress updates from our backyard journey:

1 // Before Pics & Plans

2 // Platform Deck & Some Cleaning Up

3 // DIY Raised Garden Beds & Details

4 // Rock Landscaping and Plants

5 // Lights, Plants, Cats…

But I know you didn’t come here to listen to me talk. So let’s jump right in and review some of those gnarly before pics. Friendly reminder to check your judgment at the door regarding how bad we let our backyard get while I was pregnant last year.


small backyard with deck posts, grass, and an hvac unit
small backyard with grass and an hvac unit
small backyard with deck posts, grass, and an hvac unit
small backyard with deck posts and grass
small backyard with deck posts, grass, and an hvac unit
small backyard with deck posts, grass, and an hvac unit

And here is what is looks like now 🙂

small townhouse backyard with a platform deck, plants, and a table

(This post contains affiliate links. You can read more about that here.)

Raised Vegetable Gardening In a Tiny Backyard

Let’s talk about the left-hand side first. This is where the majority of my veggies and herbs are. I used plain terracotta pots painted with Rustoleum satin black spray paint for my herbs.

They are hung using Pot Klips, which are literally the best part of this entire backyard. These things have lasted several years. So handy to be able to hang pots wherever you want and have them look like they are floating.

We have baby eggplant and cherry tomato plants over here in containers, as well as a smattering of other plants. The raised veggie garden beds are also over here. We’ve got quite a few things planted in these: sugar snap peas (climbing variety), a few kinds of lettuce, spinach, and kale.

I’m filling the other bed with bush cucumbers and climbing green beans this weekend. Since this is the only area that’s strictly off limits for the cats, they love walking around in it, playing with the twine we have nailed up on the fence for the sugar snap peas, and just generally being assholes about the whole situation.

small townhouse backyard with a platform deck, plants
hanging pot of herbs
hanging pot of herbs
purple flower
small container garden in a backyard
raised garden bed in a small townhouse backyard
painted rocks in a garden bed
cat sitting on a small stone ledge
tabby cat

Small Background Design Ideas

This view of the deck is lovely. You’ll notice Ramona’s wooden unicorn swing tucked to the side in some pictures—Mike put a hook on a deck footer so we could pull the swing up and hang it out of the way when it isn’t in use. But to be honest, it’s down most of the time, because if we’re out there, there is a good chance Ramona is with us swinging away.

We absolutely love the swing, too. It’s great quality. I did finish mine with a coat of Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane for extra protection, though.

small townhouse backyard with a platform deck, plants, and a table
wooden swing for kids in a backyard
wooden swing for kids in a backyard
baby in a wooden unicorn swing

Small Townhouse Backyard Patio Ideas

On the deck we’ve got a few things to chat about. First, I decided to put a few pavers in the rock landscaping. I wanted a clean look, but I also wanted to be able to step off of the deck and not walk right into rocks. It turned out exactly how I’d envisioned. 

We used Delaware river rock purchased in bulk from a local nursery, and I’m happy with how that looks, too. Originally I’d wanted something a little lighter, but I worried about that not looking very clean for long. We have awful red clay dirt here, and with ongoing construction in the area, I feel like everything outside is always coated in red dust.

The HVAC unit area that is screened off has some plants, too. I decided to dress this area up using some small pots with flowers in them and some more Pot Klips. The large vase with the spikes in it and the little pots are both painted with DecoArt Curb Appeal in Farmhouse White.

We also hung some ferns in this area. They add a bit of extra privacy on that side of the yard (and they look nice).

rock landscaping and pavers around a platform deck
river rocks
small townhouse backyard with a platform deck, plants, and a table
small townhouse backyard with a platform deck and hanging plants
flowers in a hanging flower pot
purple flower
flowers in hanging flower pots
plants in a backyard
large white pot with plant in it
hanging ferns in a backyard
hanging ferns and a DIY HVAC unit screen in a backyard

We’ve got a little navy shibori doormat right by the door (BB cat modeling above, closeup below). This and the rug under the table and benches are both from Target (#basic).

Absolutely no post about small backyard design ideas would be complete without as many plants as humanly possible. I have a few potted plants on the table, and in the rocky area on the far end of the deck (other side of the table), I’ve got some bigger potted plants and container veggies.

The gray hanging planters were a last-minute addition. I found them on Amazon after the planter I’d hung in the same spot broke, spilling dirt and flowers everywhere. I really like these planters. They don’t look cheap but are very lightweight. I like the rope hanger, too.

blue and brown coir mat
wooden table with blue and white pots
plant in a white pot
cactus in a blue pot
cactus growth
jalapeno plant in a pot
hanging plants in gray pots
hanging globe string lights under a deck
cat sniffing plants

DIY Cat Perches

The pic above is Rolo Tony Brown Town caught in the act of digging in the yucca cane dirt, as a bad cat does. So let’s talk a little bit about the cat perches we put up!

No project around here is complete without something for Henry and Blanche (almost never referred to by their real names as they have approximately 500 other nicknames), so when Mike suggested cat perches up the deck, I RAN WITH IT. I was initially worried about whether they’d look too tacky, but I decided that even if they looked a little bit tacky, I’d be okay with them if the cats liked them.

The good news is that I do not think they look tacky, and the cats also love them. Well, mostly Buster cat, because little BB is slow to catch on to things…

DIY outdoor cat perches
DIY outdoor cat perches
Beautiful kitty

While the cats are enjoying their new Neighborhood Watch Committee perches, we can be found laying on a blanket in the grass with little tootie.

The deck area sure makes for a nice view now!

small townhouse backyard with a platform deck, plants, and a table
baby laying on a blanket

But I must admit that the night view simply blows away the daytime view. The hanging globe string lights turning out wonderfully. They add just the right amount of light and give the space a really nice vibe once the sun starts setting. (You can see a post about how to hang globe string lights under a deck here.)

I love it. Really. It’s the perfect little space. Our backyard may be tiny, but I think we’ve maximized the space so far. Later in the summer, I’m planning some more landscaping along the fence perimeter. But for now, We’ll just be having drinks here…

Hanging globe string lights under a deck
Hanging globe string lights under a deck
Our beautiful small yard at night

Want to know where stuff is from? Here’s a list for you. I think I got everything. If I missed something, just drop me a comment.

Source List


Rock landscaping:

HVAC screen, table, benches, and garden beds:


(In July, I posted an update about some of the changes we’ve made to this space. See the updated post here!)

Share our tiny backyard and my small backyard design ideas on Pinterest!

image collage of small backyard design ideas with text Modern Design Ideas for Your Small Backyard

Starr Wilson

Sunday 1st of July 2018

Love what you did. What did you use for the decking?

Brittany Goldwyn

Monday 2nd of July 2018

Thanks! It's a Trex-like composite decking (not Trex brand) from Home Depot.


Tuesday 29th of May 2018

Brittany, I am finally getting back to seeing your fabulous backyard reveal. The dark stained privacy fence, the vertical planters and the precious swing. It looks like a wonderful place to relax outside this summer. Great job and wonderful inspiration. Pinning to my Outdoor board.


Wednesday 23rd of May 2018

I don't think I've ever seen a prettier backyard. I love all your details, especially the lights. This was super inspiring.


Friday 18th of May 2018

Holy moly - you are a miracle worker! I love how you transformed your backyard - that wood lattice screen makes that corner look gorgeous now, and all the plants just make me happy. Job well done!


Tuesday 15th of May 2018

What a beautiful space! I love how you went vertical with plants... so smart.

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