Your Backyard, Your Personality

Your yard is the mullet of landscaping: Business up front and party in the back.

It’s true. The front yard is all about curb appeal. Nothing too crazy, nothing too wild, just clean simple lines that will attract buyers when it’s time to sell. The backyard, though…that’s where you get to shine your personality on every square foot!

If your backyard just sits there and you spend as little time as possible there, you’re doing backyarding wrong. It’s an extension of your living space that just happens to have a great big blue sky for a ceiling. Let’s start with who you are and what you like to do and go from there.

So, what do you like to do? Beyond that, what would you like to do more of? 


  • A deck is a great idea for creating a beautiful and relaxing reading spot. Go with composite over wood for lower maintenance and upkeep in our dry desert. Built-in seating along the edge, or an adjustable lounge chair and you’ll be ready to page through your next nail-biter.
  • A pergola or gazebo is a wonderful way to get sun or shade, according to your wishes. It makes it easy for you to keep the sun off your tablet or out of your eyes as you read.


  • A fire pit is a cozy place to hang out and chat with friends when the sun goes down. Whether you’re telling ghost stories, revealing your deepest secrets, or laughing over s’mores, the play of firelight over the scene adds an extra element.
  • Hardscape in a paver patio so you can ease into cozy chairs and take a load off your feet anytime.


  • Raised beds work great for gardening. No stooping, no kneeling, and harvest time is as simple as reaching out your hand to pluck, snip, or dig, as your backyard grocery demands. No need to build up your existing soil, since you’re starting from scratch when you fill your boxes.
  • Be sure to add some citrus trees and fig trees since they grow so well in our desert climate. Plant in the ground or in containers and use them to provide shade for your crops that can’t take full sun.


  • A grill is a must. You can go simple or you can go all out with a built-in and plumbed grill station with gasoline, running water, refrigerator, and beer fridge or wine cooler.
  • An outdoor dining area is a must whether your food is farm-to-table or grill-to-table. With comfy chairs and durable furniture, dessert may never end.



  • Put in a backyard bar and your party may never stop. Pick a fun theme—tiki, retro, pirate—and the fun is always there, ready for you and your guests. Prefer a more family vibe? No problem. Make it a backyard soda and ice cream bar and popcorn station.
  • Nothing says party like a hot tub! Come up with a competition to see who gets the seat with the most popular jet!


  • Add a meandering pathway that loops through your backyard and take a stroll as the mood strikes you with that special someone. An arbor can mark a romantic transition from one area to another. It’s also a perfect addition to your pathway—It’s good luck to kiss under an arbor.
  • A fountain is simply a must for a romantic backyard. The sight, the sound, and the essence of water are something to sigh over as you toss in a coin and wish for your true love to appear.

Don’t bother sticking to just one thing, because no matter what size it is, your backyard can be a multi-tasker. In the Casa Serena (aka my own) backyard you’ll find a pool with a covered patio and barbecue, amazing raised garden beds filled with fresh veggies for the nummiest noms, and a fire circle with benches.

There is just one mandatory thing you need no matter what combination of backyard atmospheres you choose: lighting.

Watch any Hallmark romance movie and you’ll see string lights or fairy lights. It’s mandatory. Party scene or romantic scene, you’ll see strings of twinkle lights. So add them! Wrap them around a tree, string them across the open sky, or tangle them through branches. Put solar lights around your patio and walkway. Hang a lighting fixture from your pergola. Drape colored lights around your grill station and outdoor bar. Use uplights on your citrus trees. Use a floodlight to light up your workout. You made your backyard work for you, so go that extra step and make it work for you both day and night.