When it comes to landscaping around homes in urban environments today, space is usually a challenge, given the shrinking land sizes across the country. Most ideas for backyard design and gardening are focussed on achieving great style in small spaces.

However, the value of good planning and design is just as important in larger backyards where the extra space can be transformed into stunning landscapes that will add value to the home.

According to the 2018 Adbri Masonry Great Australian Backyard survey, 56 per cent of respondents have a large backyard with plenty of room for entertaining and gardening. Often, large backyards are under appreciated with very little care invested in their upkeep, resulting in big, boring spaces that aren’t adding value to the family home.

“With a little research, inspiration and planning, dull backyards can be converted into feature areas for eating, entertaining, relaxing and gardening. The backyard should be versatile and meet family needs. Big backyards provide a brilliant blank canvas to exhibit some creative flair by designing what could be the most used space in the home,” says landscape expert and Adbri Masonry brand ambassador, Jason Hodges.

“Whether you’re creating a zoned garden where children can play in a safe environment or building an upmarket entertainer, the key is to value your land like the banks do and make smart decisions that respect the value this land brings to your home,” continues Jason.

Here are Jason’s suggestions for utilising space in a large backyard:

Set the scene

One of the most important parts of a beautiful landscaped garden is the place where you’ll sit back and appreciate it – usually this is the paved courtyard or patio area. In many instances, the patio will come directly off the house and represent the transition point from indoor to outdoor living. While this is practical, large backyards provide the opportunity to get creative. If the façade of your home needs work and looks dated, consider taking the ‘focus’ away from the home by having a path off the house, leading to a feature courtyard in the centre of the space.

This draws attention away from the home and shows off the size and depth of your yard. Pavers are a great choice for landscaping stepping stone paths and the entertaining pavement.

“While I love stepping stones separated by pebbles or turf for paths, the foundation pavement should be a solid area, which can house your dining and relaxing furniture as well as any shading or barbeque equipment,” explains Jason.

Adbri Masonry’s Euro pavers are a good starting point as it allows homeowners to play with colour, size and texture with many options available to suit any home. Concrete pavers represent a great option for use outdoors as they are designed for the harsh climate, are hard wearing and require minimal maintenance.

Build a children’s retreat

If you have children, a large backyard provides an opportunity to create an outdoor place where kids can play safely, so take advantage and start planning your kid-friendly yard. Section off a corner and create the ultimate children’s playground. According to the 2018 Adbri Masonry Great Australian Backyard survey, a veggie garden, cubby house, play set and sand pit were among the top picks for a perfect kid friendly backyard.

“Try building a cubby house or teepee that can be used in summer as a shaded play area or as a mini campsite in winter,” says Jason. “I also love the idea of placing pavers in a hopscotch pattern and letting grass grow in between. The pavers will act as a pathway for your garden, as well as be a fun activity for your children.”

A nation of entertainers

There are countless ways to create an exceptional outdoor room to entertain and spend time with family and friends. A large backyard is the perfect canvas to get started.

“There is a growing desire for functional outdoor entertaining spaces that act as an extension of the indoor dining and entertainment areas,” says Stephen Thompson, Managing Director of Allworth Homes.

Incorporate a dining area with built-in seating to help give the area structure and make use of available space. You can achieve this using Adbri Masonry’s Versawall blocks, which create vertical retaining and garden walls whilst doubling as bench seating.

“Alfresco areas tend to feature on the front cover shots of real estate listings and signboards – this is because they’re an asset that adds value to a home and where buyers picture themselves enjoying the home with family. In larger backyards, these entertaining areas can be multifunctional with cooking equipment, dining settings as well as breakout garden beds or bench seating around a feature fire pit,” says Jason.

Change levels with a sunken patio

Add depth and dimension to your backyard with a sunken patio that will become a mini private retreat. Whether your backyard is flat or slightly sloped, you can create a sunken patio – either DIY or with the help of a professional landscaper.

“The great thing about a sunken patio is that it adds a level change to your yard. While I don’t recommend excavating specifically to create step changes, if you have a large backyard that slopes away at any point, consider this a perfect spot for a sunken patio,” explains Jason.

Level changes immediately increase the aesthetic appeal and intricacy of a space. Often in small yards, level changes are hard to achieve so make the most of bigger areas by introducing steps and garden walls, terraced retaining walls or go the other way to create sunken entertaining areas.

Big points for big plants

One of the best benefits of a big backyard comes into play during tree and plant selection. The additional space available in larger yards significantly increases planting potential – this is because there is room for more mature plants that can become the focal point of the garden. In bigger yards, the risk of larger feature trees dominating the area and creating an excess of unwanted shade is reduced. You can also use larger hedging and plants to block out fencing without it feeling like you’re boxed into your space.

Beat the heat with a plunge pool

A large backyard is a great canvas for a pool and creates an opportunity to value the space around it – whether it’s sunbaking, entertaining or relaxing.

“Avoid dominating the area with a large pool; try taking cue from the Island of Gods, with a Bali-inspired plunge pool that is small and cleverly landscaped. Pave the boundary with Adbri Masonry’s Euro Classic or Euro Stone that will give your pool a sleek finish, whilst providing a safe, slip resistant surface,” suggests Jason.