That Small Backyard Can Still Be a Selling Point

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine 

Don’t underestimate the power of a space based on its size. Sure, your listing may be size-challenged in the yard department, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be a showpiece.

“As building lots continue to be smaller and scarcer, lot preparation with the goal of maximizing livable outdoor space tops the list of property enhancement desires,” according to Kermit Baker, chief economist at the American Institute of Architects. Indeed, the desire for outdoor living space ranked tops among architects for landscaping trends in the first quarter of 2017 AIA survey. Blended indoor/outdoor living came in second.

In the latest issue of REALTOR® Magazine, we took a look at How to Make a Big Statement With a Small Yard.

There are plenty of ways you can enhance a small space and several design experts showed us how, from setting a focal point to using reflective materials, tweaking the furnishing scale, accenting with container gardens and layering the light. Read tips on each, and take a look at a few examples.

 Show off the green

Prune plants so they’re more vertical than horizontal, training them to grow up rather than out. Also, consider creating a vertical wall of planters, like containers of ornamental grasses. You can also raise plant height by several feet using retaining walls, raised beds, or extra long, slender containers.

Dennis_vertical garden

Photo courtesy: Dennis Hammett, Ebby Halliday REALTORS(R)


Photo Credit: Photos by Linda Oyama Bryan for Mariani Landscape, Lake Bluff, Ill., a member of the National Association of Landscape Professionals

Create functional, inviting spaces

Even a small backyard can show off a dining space or an area with comfy chairs around a fire pit. Show how the space can be used for entertaining.


NALP_dining area

Photo Credit: Photos by Linda Oyama Bryan for Mariani Landscape, Lake Bluff, Ill., a member of the National Association of Landscape Professionals ]

Accentuate the far side of the yard

By getting buyers to gaze across a stretch of yard, you’ll help make the space feel larger. For example, place a bench at the far side of the landscape, surrounded by lush greenery.

Porches and Gardens perennial garden

Photo courtesy Costa Farms

View more examples.

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. Melissa,

    I hope you don’t mind but I posted this article on my Facebook page. It struck a cord with me because I never have a problem decorating my home but when it comes to the yard I’m at a total loss. Thank you for your ideas, I’m not sure how adventuous I’ll become but at least I have a start.

    Dee McNutt, Realtor
    JB Goodwin Realtors

  2. Hi Dee – Thanks for sharing the article! And best of luck in your own yard decorating endeavors! 🙂
    -Melissa Tracey

  3. I’ve found a lot of buyers these days PREFER small yards: it means less work, and most people in the younger generation seem to prefer gardening in small pots rather than actually getting their knees dirty in a yard. And especially in the ‘first home’ condo / townhouse / etc. niche, small yards are a biiiiig selling point. Easy to decorate, easy to maintain, and you’ve still got some green space!

  4. I think people are more interested in how they can “use” their backyard as opposed to the size. Since we now consider outdoor areas as an extension of our indoor space, smaller is better.

  5. The small gardens seem all the more inviting and intimate. Great inspirations!

  6. Inspiring photos of greens. A must have in every home!

  7. You can never go wrong when you use plants for staging. Perfect for any design concept.

  8. The last two photos are awesome! Thank you for the tips!

  9. Great selling point! There’s positive impression the moment a buyer enters the property.

  10. All these will surely be favorite spots!