Step-by-step Guide to Transform Your Backyard into an Eco-friendly Oasis

Serene green garden with pond and intimate seating for 2

Transforming Your Backyard into an Eco-Friendly Oasis

Practising sustainable outdoor living gives you a chance to enjoy your backyard while also benefiting your local ecosystem. In fact, with the right insights, there’s nothing stopping you from transforming your backyard into an eco-friendly oasis. By doing so, you’ll be creating an outdoor living space that is not only a pleasure to experience but also supports the health of the natural world. Read on to learn how.   

Basics of Sustainable Landscaping

While there are countless tactics you can use to make your landscape more eco-friendly, there are also a few sustainability basics that any property owner would be wise to implement. The next few sections will explain those key sustainability principles and their overall importance in creating a more eco-friendly backyard. 

Planting Native Plants

Selecting native plants for your backyard is one of the simplest and most effective eco-friendly practises you can adopt. While there are plenty of non-native plants that are beautiful and popular among homeowners, native plants are best suited to your local environment and are most capable of providing food and shelter for local wildlife. 

In addition to their undeniably positive impact on the natural landscape, many native plants are also incredibly attractive. That means that planting native plant species will help make your backyard both more sustainable and more beautiful. 

Practising Water-Wise Gardening

One aspect of creating and maintaining a sustainable landscape that many gardeners overlook is being mindful of water use. In fact, if you are not mindful, you may soon find that you are using far more water to care for your backyard than you would ever expect. Some studies even show that outdoor uses account for the largest share of overall household water use. 

Creating an eco-friendly backyard involves making decisions that will help you use water in a more sustainable way. Selecting native plants, grouping plants based on their water needs, and mulching are all ways to practise water-wise gardening in your backyard. 

Essentials of Organic Gardening

People use the term “organic” in so many different contexts and ways that, at times, it can be difficult to understand what that term truly means. Despite that confusion, organic gardening does refer to a very specific set of practises that relate to how you treat the plants and soil in your garden. 

The primary tenant of organic gardening is the avoidance of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, and any other artificial gardening treatment. Rather than relying on these materials, organic gardeners enrich their soil in more natural ways, such as through composting. This approach releases fewer harmful chemicals into the earth and thus contributes to an eco-friendly backyard. 

Peaceful green garden full of plants with a small pond and seating

Building Eco-Friendly Hardscaping

Most people think of plants when they consider how to make their backyards more environmentally friendly. However, the manner in which you build the hardscape areas of your yard also plays a major role in how eco-friendly your backyard truly is. 

Using Sustainable Hardscape Materials

In landscape design, hardscape refers to any man-made feature, including patios, fences, walls, and much more. Each backyard will have a different mixture of hardscape elements, and, as you might expect, some versions of those elements are more sustainable than others. 

For example, hardscape materials such as wood and stone are typically far more environmentally friendly than hardscape materials such as plastic, rubber, and concrete. As you design your eco-friendly backyard, be sure to remember to opt for more natural materials for your hardscape features. 

Incorporating Permeable Surfaces

One of the most critical aspects of building eco-friendly hardscapes is permeability. Permeable surfaces allow rainwater to seep into the earth rather. By contrast, impermeable surfaces like concrete and asphalt prevent rainwater from entering the soil, resulting in runoff that can lead to significant erosion in your yard. 

One of the simplest ways to ensure your walkways, patios, and other hardscape features are permeable is to use gravel or dry-laid pavers. Both of these options provide spaces through which water can permeate into the soil below. Incorporating permeable materials not only reduces erosion and puddling in your backyard but also facilitates groundwater recharge.  

Adding Green Roofs and Walls

Another way to ensure your hardscapes are eco-friendly is to add a bit of softscape to them. By that, we mean incorporating plants into your hardscape in the form of green roofs and walls. While these constructions can be a bit more complex to create, their environmental impact is well worth the effort. 

Green walls and roofs give you a chance to increase the number of native plants in your yard. They also help to reduce erosion-causing runoff in the same way that permeable hardscapes do. Just makes sure that you angle your green roofs and walls so that the plants that comprise them can receive the precipitation and sunlight they need to thrive. 

Eco-Friendly Outdoor Living Spaces

The living spaces within your backyard are where you will spend most of your time outside. However, these spaces can do much more than provide a relaxing location in which you can enjoy some fresh air. Instead, the features of your outdoor living spaces can also be eco-friendly. 

Solar-Powered Landscape Features

An important part of designing your backyard is deciding how you will supply power to the landscape features that require energy to operate. As you would guess, for those who are interested in being as eco-friendly as possible, choosing renewable energy sources whenever possible is the best bet. 

One of the easiest forms of renewable energy to use in your yard is solar energy. You can find solar panels of all sizes and varieties that you can use to power sheds and other structures. You’ll also find that there are many landscape lighting features that can operate on solar power as well. 

However, while solar power is a convenient energy source for your eco-friendly backyard, you must first make sure your yard receives enough sunlight from making your effort worthwhile. Additionally, there are other forms of renewable energy you can use. For instance, installing a small wind turbine is another easy way to get the energy to your landscape features in a sustainable way. 

Sustainable Outdoor Furniture

Your outdoor living spaces are far more inviting and comfortable when you populate them with furniture. However, comfort is not the only feature you should consider when adding furniture to your eco-friendly oasis. 

As was the case regarding the hardscape materials you add to your property, the garden furniture you add should also consist of environmentally friendly materials. Again, natural materials like wood and stone are often the most sustainable. Additionally, you can also use furniture that consists of reclaimed materials. 

Generally, if environmental sensitivity is your goal, you should avoid adding plastic, rubber, and other synthetic furniture items. The reason is that these types of furniture often require more energy to create, which increases their negative environmental impact. 

Wooden compost bin full of food waste

Image by Trish Walker via flickr

Environmentally Friendly Waste Management

Dealing with waste is not something most people look forward to. Still, if you want your backyard to be as eco-friendly as possible, then you cannot overlook the importance of environmentally friendly waste management. If that concept is new to you, read through the next few sections to learn how you can manage waste in a sustainable way. 

Composting Your Waste

Composting is one of the most common environmental practises that many gardeners uptake. We won’t delve into the science behind composting, but we can provide a brief definition of what takes place in this process. Simply put, composting is a process by which you can transform organic water materials into a healthy, all-natural soil amendment. 

You can begin composting using nothing more than the food scraps that come out of your kitchen, along with leaves, wood, and other natural materials. The advantage of composting is twofold. First, composting reduces the amount of trash you produce. Second, homemade compost eliminates the need for synthetic soil amendments when it comes time to enrich your garden soil. 

Recycling Yard Waste

It is easy to imagine all of the waste and recyclable materials that you produce from within your home. However, you should also be aware that you’ll produce plenty of recyclable materials while working in the garden. Fortunately, there are just as many opportunities to put that yard waste to good use. 

Byproducts such as plant debris, grass clippings, sticks, and other natural items can all become ingredients in your compost mixture. Be sure to do your best to recycle these materials rather than sending them straight to the landfill as you may have previously done. 

Reusing and Repurposing Materials

One of the more exciting aspects of becoming more environmentally friendly is learning how to repurpose certain items in your landscape. Reusing and repurposing present you with the opportunity to be creative with materials that may seem to no longer have any use in your backyard. 

For example, you can repurpose old patio pavers to create an edge for the garden best or to build a small retaining wall. Another common repurposing idaea is to use old wooden pallets or boards to build structures like sheds. The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to reusing and repurposing landscape materials. All the while, you’ll be engaging in a creative endeavour while also reducing the amount of waste that your garden produces. 

A bumblebee hovering beside a red flower

Louise Docker, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Creating Wildlife-Friendly Spaces

Some homeowners aim to eliminate any creature that decides to live in their backyard. But this mentality is not in keeping with environmentally friendly practises. By contrast, if you want your backyard to become an eco-friendly oasis, you should actively work to create wildlife-friendly spaces. Providing sustenance and shelter for insects and animals goes a long way toward boosting the vitality of your local ecosystem. 

How to Attract Pollinators

Sadly, the vital pollinator species that help our native plants and crops reproduce are on the decline. The good news is that if you adopt an eco-friendly approach to gardening, you can help support the pollinators in your region. The main way to do that is to plant groups of native flower plants that will attract birds and insects to your yard. 

These birds and insects not only create a beautiful wildlife presence in your backyard, as they feed on the nectar in your native plantings. They are also an essential part of your regional ecosystem. When pollinators have a chance to thrive, both humans and the natural world stand to benefit. To help that occur, try adding a pollinator garden to your yard while also sticking to native plantings by default. 

Bird-Friendly Gardens

You can also use your eco-friendly backyard as an opportunity to support birds in your neighbourhood. Many native birds are pollinators, which means we should do our best to help them live and reproduce. One way to do that is to allow your garden to become a place that provides food, shelter, and water for bird species. 

Supporting birds involves planting native plants that birds love to feed on. However, it’s important to plant native flowering plants that bloom at different times of year to ensure birds have ongoing access to those flowers. You should also create shelter areas and water sources for those birds to enjoy.

Creating Habitat for Wildlife in Your Yard

Although many people do not think of their yard as a place for wildlife to live, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, if it were not for human development, your yard would naturally become a suitable habitat for many different types of animal species. 

There are many ways to create an inviting habitat for wildlife in your yard, but the main goals are to create water sources, food sources, and areas that provide safe coverage. Including these three elements makes it more likely that your yard becomes a lovely place to live, not only for you but for the creatures in your native ecosystem. 


Given the current state of the environment, adopting eco-friendly practises is more important than ever before. Fortunately, transforming your backyard into an eco-friendly oasis is not as difficult as you may have first expected. All you need to do is adopt the principles and practises from the article above, and soon your backyard will be doing its part to help build a healthier environmental world.