39 Backyard Ideas: How to Declutter, Organize, Design your Perfect Summer Oasis!

wood bench and bistro table with plant under a tree
Late afternoon in the backyard

Want to spend more time outdoors …

Want to cook outdoors …

Have guests over but…

Well you can!

It’s time to take your organizing superpowers outside and use them on your backyard.

Use some of the ideas in this blog to turn your yard into a beautiful, fun, relaxing space. A place for you and your family to safely enjoy.

Before you start organizing your backyard or any space, it is crucial that you are clear about why you want to do it. What are the benefits to you? Knowing your reasons for why you want this change keeps you motivated!

As important, decide on a clear vision or picture of how you want the backyard to look and feel. Your vision is your road map to your destination - a backyard transformed into a summer oasis.

I’m transforming my own backyard.

Organizing my backyard has been a real gift. It’s kept me more positive and focused.

We realize the COVID-19 pandemic has placed limitations on everyone’s travel plans. I decided that if I had to stay at home I would make the most of it. I decided to take charge of something I could control – the design of my own backyard.

When life hands you a lemon🍋. Make some lemonade🥃.

Know WHY you want to transform your backyard!

Know HOW you want your backyard DESIGNED and how you want it to make you FEEL!

I knew why I wanted to organize my backyard and generally how I wanted the yard to look and to feel.

For example:

  1. I wanted to organize my backyard because I enjoy puttering in my garden. I love flowers, fresh herbs and home grown tomatoes and hate weeds. Don’t enjoy kneeling in the dirt because it hurts my knees. I wanted a very large waist-level planter.

  2. I wanted a private attractive outdoor space to relax and snooze in.

  3. I also wanted a safe place where I was proud to invite a few people over. Considering COVID-19 protocol a spacious seating area was important.

  4. I wanted my space to be green, cool and peaceful.

  5. I wanted to use recycled and reclaimed materials.

👉 When you envision your ideal backyard oasis take into account:

  • How much space you have.

  • Your budget.

  • The hours of sunlight.


Pretty woman of colour holding glass of cold lemonade
Grab a glass of lemonade - look at your backyard

  • Take the time to think about why you want to organize your backyard.

  • Think about how you want to feel in your backyard.

  • How do you want it to function? Which outdoor zones might you create. If you have children or have children over, you may want to create a kid zone. If you are a gardener a garden zone. If you play sports a sports zone. A seating area. A zone for barbequing.

  • How do you want it to look? Sketch out a plan.

After you’ve done some thinking about why and what you want, you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work.


Miscellaneous stuff in backyard
Declutter backyard

No point organizing things that you don't want or need.

👉Take these five steps:

  1. Declutter before you start organizing your backyard.

  2. Gather things that are lying around.

  3. Sort them into categories: sports gear, garden equipment, tools etc..

  4. Decide what you want to keep or delete.

  5. The keepers need a place to live. The deleted give away, donate or trash.


Patio with potted plants wrought iron table with umbrella and 4 matching chairs
Organized Patio

Organize your backyard.

Your goal is to store items near to where you use them. It makes them easier to find and faster to clean up when you finish!

👉 Here are some common categories and storage ideas:

2 bikes hanging in garage
Hang bikes in garage

Sports Equipment

  • Group sports items together in the garage or shed in transparent containers.

  • Install mounts on the walls or ceiling to hang fishing poles and bicycles.

  • Add Net bags for balls.


Blue and white patio storage box containing decorative pillows
Weather-resistant storage box
  • Use a weather-resistant storage box to store pillows and seat cushions. Serves as a bench. Looks great among your patio furniture. You can build it yourself with help using Sand and Sisal’s DIY outdoor storage box tutorial.

  • Group like items together in transparent lidded containers. Items such as sunscreen, sunglasses, citronella candles, paper plates, etc.

  • Store containers on durable weather resistant shelves outside or in the garage. Hang grilling equipment from the grill in waterproof bags. Or store equipment on small water proof table next to the grill.


Large garden tools rakes and shovels hang in garage
Hang Large tools from a piece of wood
  • Store items on the walls or suspend from the ceiling.

  • Use pegboards, simple hooks or a wall system to store larger tools on the wall. Tools like rakes, loppers and shovels.

  • Store less used items (like seasonal supplies) higher up.

  • Store your go-to items (like tools) on the wall.

  • Use a stand to store gardening tools in one space.

  • Use a hose reel to store your garden hose.

  • See blog for guide to garage organizing

Potting bench.

  • Store your gardening tools and supplies.

  • Useful as a workspace and as a nice focal point in your yard.


Heat and light, bugs and of course physical distancing are prime considerations.

What you do. What you serve. How you decorate your backyard. All should contribute to the style and mood you want to create.

👉 Here are some strategies to stage and decorate your backyard:

  1. Keeping cool. Shade and privacy

We love the sun but who wants to be hot and uncomfortable? Encourage that cool feeling. Shade provides physical relief. Water features such as a fountain or fish pond provides mental respite.

There are lots of ways to get shade:

  • The cantilever umbrella is great for maximizing open space.

Orange Cantilever umbrella shades patio
Cantilever umbrella maximizes open space

  • Attach outdoor shades to your home. They'll also fasten to a pergola or other structure to block or filter sunlight.

  • An Outdoor umbrella with light weighted stand makes it easy to move around the yard.

  • Add a Patio Umbrella to a table. To stay in the shade, make sure the umbrella extends at least 2 feet past the table all around.

  • Enjoy a Pergola. A free-standing structure with lattice roof for partial shade and air circulation.

Pergola over stone patio with cushioned chairs and outdoor fireplace
Pergola for partial shade and air circulation.

  • Sun shades are some of the best temporary deck shade ideas for outdoor areas. They’re easy to move or re-position as the angle of the sun changes.

  • There are lots of simple water features either to DIY or buy. Check out this article at HOMEBNC for water feature ideas:

Bamboo and stone fountain
Small fountain provides big relief

2. Invest in lighting.

Extend your time outside. Create ambiance.

The options for outdoor lighting range from the simple to high tech.

Low tech:

  • Lanterns

  • Candles

  • Twinkling outdoor string lights or Thomas Edison string bulbs.

High tech:

  • Sit Deck post lights on top of a standard 4x4 wood deck post. Most are solar powered.

  • Portable lantern lights designed to look like they belong on a coffee table.

  • Insert Solar garden lights along walkways or in flower beds.

  • Fit LED walkway lights under stairs and around walkways. They improve safety and are battery powered.

Solar garden lights illuminate walkway
Solar garden lights illuminate walkway

3. Create Dividers With Gravel

pea gravel beside planter
Create areas with gravel
  • If you want to create a dedicated place for dining in your yard, use gravel instead of grass to identify this area. Add an outdoor rug to stop the chairs from getting stuck. The rug can also serves as a focal point and visual boundary.

4. Go Au Naturel

Adding Greenery provides shade, privacy and beauty.

  • Tend your garden. Keep it weeded watered and well-loved. Consider a pollinator garden attracting butterflies, hummingbirds, and honeybees during the day.

Butterflies foraging amongst Lantana
Butterfly Garden

  • Plant Trees to naturally shield your patio or deck from the hot summer sun. Deciduous tree give plenty of shade in the summer and shed their leaves in the fall.

  • Grow Vines for Shade.

  • Use a trellis, lattice or arbor to train up fast growing vines.

  • They provide privacy screen and leafy shade. Some even have attractive blooms.

Vine-covered trellis behind patio chairs
Trellis provides shade

  • Clusters of potted plants soften a concrete or monotone space.

Variety of potted tropical plants
Variety of potted plants provide interest

5. Serve Cold Refreshments.

Set up a cold refreshments mini bar for outdoor happy hour. Invite a few double vaccinated guests. Serve drinks in insulated drinking glasses to keep cool. Serve cold snacks like tea sandwiches, devilled eggs, crostini and salad rolls. For some great ideas check out realsimple "serving safe food for entertaining".

Stainless Steel Cooler with ice and drink bottles
Stainless Steel Cooler as mini-bar

Love the one you're with.

As you know, hosting a big cookout or throwing a party is NOT COOL and downright dangerous.

However, You can still have a good time.

Family mealtime can be a special feast. Why not make it so!

Young Mother and Father with daughter eating dinner on patio
Family Meals

How about a round of croquet or bocce ball before or after dinner.

Excited couple Playing Croquet
Playing Croquet

*Epidemiologist Dr. Peter Juni, has a simple message:

."Outdoor, distanced gatherings are safer, avoid any indoor gatherings with people from other households. . . People are social animals. We need something to balance ourselves mentally, socially, and psychologically, and so we will need to find a good way forward.”

Outdoor distanced gatherings are safer! So let’s organize and prepare our backyard with this in mind. Don’t despair! Take charge of something you can control – the design of your own backyard. I hope that like me it will help you feel more positive and focused.

If you want to have a few extended family members or friends over there are ways to keep those visits safe and enjoyable. Implement some of the backyard ideas in this blog and may you enjoy a safe summer in your backyard oasis

* Dr. Peter Juni is director of the Ontario's COVID-19 science advisory table.

In and Out Organizing is a Toronto based professional home organizing business.

We enjoy our backyard oasis in Roncesvalles Village.

Let us help you organize your backyard or any space to enjoy this summer and all year round. Your safety is our first priority. Find out how we can help you. Call Brad at 416 859-0518.

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