You have recently moved into a new home in a new neighborhood. Or perhaps you’ve not worked to change the look of your backyard for some time now. Here is your opportunity to give your entire outdoors a makeover. This is your chance to extend the functionality of your outdoor spaces for relaxation and entertainment or provide an extra play area for your family. Let’s look at ten interesting Chicago backyard ideas to make your home stand out.
1. Pools and Ponds
Make your pool the oasis of tranquility. A pool can either be above-ground or in-ground. You need a professional swimming pool installer to execute a pool installation project. But first, you’ll need to decide on the spot you want the pool to be dug.
There should be enough room to fit the pool size you want to build. Would you want it to be in direct sunlight or under a shade? The water will stay at a reasonable temperature in a shaded area. However, you’ll need to remove fallen leaves and other debris from nearby trees.
A pool above ground is cheaper to install, and some accessories can be added without calling in a professional. Understand what’s needed to maintain a pool. It needs the addition of chemicals, regular repairs, and skimming. These will all need money, time, and effort.
Other gorgeous Chicago backyard ideas include installing a pond. The latter brings nature to your backyard. With good maintenance, you can keep some animals, such as fish, in it.
A pond, however, needs a lot of care. For instance, it needs cleaning and oxygenation to support animal life. Install pumps and filters to keep the water moving and clean.
An arborist can help you choose your pond’s location to avoid leaves and debris falling into the pond. From reputable fencing companies, consult one that can fence your swimming pool and pond areas. A well-constructed fence will protect the pool from intruders and keep it safe.
2. Patios and Decks
A patio is among the helpful Chicago backyard ideas you should implement on your property. You can host parties and other outdoor fun activities here. It’s also an excellent spot to sit out and enjoy the outdoors on warm evenings.
Work with a professional patio builder to help with design and construction. You can choose wood and composite for your design. The patio is a good option for a ground-level backdoor to a home.
It’s an excellent idea to have a deck if the back door is above ground level. Consider your budget, as professional design and construction comes at a cost. Where you position your deck matters, especially if you choose the shady side by the trees, in which case you’ll have to regularly get rid of leaves and other debris.
Low-maintenance decks are great since they deliver protection from degradation while offering aesthetic value. A great material to use is cap stock, a low-maintenance decking surrounded by a polymer shell known as the cap. The capstock material is protected on three sides.
They are resistant to scratching, fading, and staining. It’s also mold- and mildew-resistant and can’t be damaged by moisture. You can also try out the solid PVC decking option, which has the best protection and strength. Some manufacturers make it eco-friendly by incorporating recycled materials in the board.
3. Flower and Vegetable Gardens
Other gorgeous Chicago backyard ideas include planting vegetable and flower gardens, making your space look beautiful and valuable. The garden allows you to grow vegetables that your family can consume. Flowers bring natural beauty to your backyard.
Decide on the type of garden you want, the vegetables you have in mind, and the flowers you love. You can select the flower varieties depending on their aesthetic value to you. Choose your vegetables based on what your family enjoys eating. This is a great way to combine beauty and function in your backyard.
Consult a soil expert to check the soil conditions. If your soil is hard, mix it with sand to make it smoother for gardening. You may need to test the soil by collecting the soil samples throughout the garden and putting them in a jar.
Send the samples to a testing lab, where results could recommend improving the soil for gardening. The location of your garden should be where the plants will get direct sunlight. Next, till the land and remove all grass. For flower gardens, add nutrients to the soil; for vegetable gardens, put the right fertilizer into the ground when planting the seeds.
After preparing the ground, wait two weeks for the soil to settle. Rake the garden bed and divide it into different parts for different vegetable varieties. Each bed should be four feet wide. Leave a path of 1.5 feet between the beds.
4. Fruit Trees
Fruit trees are some of the best Chicago backyard ideas that keep on giving. When planting a fruit orchard, consider the fruits your family enjoys eating. You can add fruit trees by setting aside a section of your backyard.
Consider planting climbing fruit plants along your fence, spread across walls, or integrated with ornamentals. You can also grow them in containers in various backyard spots. Choose fruit varieties that do well in Chicago.
Try the nectarine trees, as they grow well in Illinois. They need plenty of space to allow the canopy to grow and pruning to promote the growth of fruits. The peach trees also need enough space to allow for canopies.
They also must be pruned yearly. Get several varieties of apple trees to encourage easy cross-pollination. The Chicago area is good with sour cherry trees. The varieties to grow here include Montmorency, Suda Hardy, Meteor, and North Star.
Plum tree varieties such as Yellow Egg, Stanley, Dietz, Green Cage, and Damson also do well in Chicago. Plant different varieties to encourage cross-pollination. Your home-grown fruit may not look as perfect as the ones you buy in the stores since you won’t use pesticides and fungicides, but your fruit will taste much better.
5. Fire Pits
A fire pit is among the most popular Chicago backyard ideas that create a perfect ambiance for your backyard. Among things to consider is its size, which affects its functionality and safety. A fire pit could be a simple dugout in the ground or an exquisitely designed piece of architecture in your backyard.
A portable fire pit is usually small and perfect for a movable heat source. It’s also ideal if your outdoor space is limited. On camping trips, you can carry a portable fire pit as it’s safer, easy to maintain, and clean. They don’t emit enough heat for large outdoor spaces and are not ideal for large crowds.
Large fire pits are usually constructed in one spot and can be a centerpiece of your outdoors. They have more heat, so they’re best for larger spaces. They can also cater to more people, and this is a better atmosphere for large get-together functions.
However, they take up more space and aren’t portable. They also need more fuel and effort when cleaning up. If your outdoor space is compact, go for a small fire pit. Ultimately, a firepit is mostly for warmth, whether small or large.
One can also use it for cooking, esthetics, and beauty. It’s your prerogative to decide how you want to use it. For instance, if you host large gatherings, consider installing a large fire pit.
6. Seasonal Foliage
This is an excellent time to try plants that can bring color to your garden beds. Get blooming plants just starting to bud rather than those already in full bloom. Go for plants with colors that will pop when planted along the garden borders and in containers.
Try the black-eyed Susan, a great plant for fall. They start blooming in the summer and are fully bloomed by early fall. They feature vivid golf petals and dark centers, making them stunning Chicago backyard ideas.
The black-eyed Susan mixes well with Joe Pye Weed, which blooms from July to September, requiring moderate water and partial to full sunlight. The autumn fern and Japanese Forest Grass thrive in full to partial shade. They can grow well in containers or woodland settings.
The autumn ferns are excellent for your backyard. Their leaves turn from a medium green to a rich golden bronze in fall. Japanese forest grass stays golden from spring to fall in colder locations and all year round, depending on where you live. They only need moderate watering and partial to full shade.
Purple coneflower and Russian safe are other plants to try out. They are a good pair for the fall. They bloom for several months, attracting bees and butterflies. The Russian sage has pale stems and delicate lavender-blue flowers.
They bring a sense of airiness to your garden bed. They bloom from July to October and are drought tolerant, and only use moderate amounts of water until established. They also require full sun. To be sure you’re doing the right thing, contact one of the lawn care companies in your area. They understand the right conditions for different types of plants and flowers.
7. Pavers and Large Stone Steps
Stone steps are functional and beautiful Chicago backyard ideas. Consider setting them up on your lawn or landscape, especially where the ground slopes in a certain direction. They form breathtaking pathways, especially at night when the lights come alive.
Mark out the area where the steps will be, then calculate the flight of steps you’ll need. Measure the entire length and height and divide by the size of a typical step. Dig out the steps to a sizable hole and then add the compacted concrete aggregate.
Keep your pavements in excellent condition by scheduling regular cleaning, occasionally brushing, and scrubbing with soapy water. Scrub off the stains resulting from mortar overspill. The stains could also result from algae, moss, and lichens. Remove the algae immediately because it can be slippery when damp, posing a danger to anyone walking on the steps.
Install a retaining wall paver throughout the yard in different colors and shapes. A concrete retaining wall keeps the soil and rocks in their rightful place, preventing soil from getting washed off. It also brings an aesthetic feel to your space.
8. Lighting and Ambiance
There are several Chicago backyard ideas to light up your backyard. Use strategic lighting placement to highlight the most stunning aspects of your home’s architecture. The highlights could include the poolside, the garden walls, or the porch.
Try hanging lights from a pergola ceiling, tree branches, or the porch. An arborist can provide a tree trimming service to keep your trees well-pruned and at an ideal height. Trees are great for hanging lights to light up your Chicago backyard.
Outdoor string lights are an affordable way to charm your space. They transform a backyard into an inviting outdoor experience. Paper lanterns can create a stunning display over the outdoor dining table or lounge, giving it a soft glow and acting as a focal point to your outdoors. Work with a landscape lighting company for the best effects.
Your checklist of Chicago backyard ideas is incomplete without landscaping. Contact a professional landscaper to install the patios, decks, and other outdoor hardscapes. The positioning of these features has an effect on water management around your home.
To keep water off your basement, avoid planting trees close to your house’s foundation. Their root systems draw moisture during the dry seasons, leading to cracks in walls and the foundation. Call a tree removal expert to cut trees that could compromise the safety of your home. Install an underground extension to the rainwater spout to direct water from your roof and away from the foundation.
Pergolas add shade to your backyard space. They provide relief from the harsh, direct rays of the sun, allowing sunlight to fill your space. Include pergolas in your Chicago backyard ideas for their elegant structure’s beauty. They add a stylish touch to your backyard.
You can use wood, aluminum, fiberglass, and vinyl to make your pergola. Use modern, classy, elegant beauty or rusty styles to give it a rustic feel. Decorate it with hanging plants and add draping lights through the cross-beams or around the posts. For a mythical Greek touch, hang pieces of colored linen fabric or pergola curtains.
Giving your backyard a makeover can sometimes be painstaking but highly rewarding in the full scheme of things. Your efforts will be rewarded with a beautiful yet functional outdoor space you’ll enjoy for years. It’ll also boost the value of your property and increase buyer inquiries should you put it on the market.