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12 Backyard Ideas from Some of Our Favourite Homes

From Mimico to Yorkville, here are 11 outdoor backyard design ideas from some of Toronto’s most inspiring homes

By Tory Healy

Extend your interior style outside with these great backyard design ideas from real-life homes in Toronto. We’ve identified 11 easy-to-follow outdoor design rules to get your own ideas flowing, from hardscaping to shading devices to double-duty fencing and even vertical planting. With the right backyard design, you’ll produce an exterior living space that you can enjoy all year long. Let’s take a look.


backyard design ideas - backyard ideas

1. Balance raw and order

Landscape designer Joel Loblaw is known for creating urban gardens that are simultaneously loose and structured. And when it comes to backyard ideas, he never runs out of stock. In the backyard of this reinvented Rosedale Georgian, he’s used cedar, polished concrete, steel and river stones to complement neatly contained shrubs and other greenery.

backyard design ideas - backyard ideas

2. Highlight the natural landscape

This mid-century bungalow is built on an exceptional ravine site, and its flagstone patio overlooks Mimico Creek. As part of the home’s recent renovation by LGA Architectural Partners, an old deck was pulled off the back of the building to give the rec room a leafy ravine view, too.

backyard design ideas - backyard ideas

3. Throw some shade

With expansive windows at either end, this Hillcrest Village home by Kohn Shnier Architects makes efficient use of natural light. Here, retractable orange canopies from Rolltec shade the back deck to provide a respite from late summer heat. A tiered rock garden carved out of the yard brings southern light down to a lower level and provides space for a below-grade patio. Yet another another great backyard design idea.

backyard design ideas - backyard ideas

4. Put everything in its place

Williamson Chong’s backyard design for this multigenerational family home in the Annex includes plenty of places to stash kids’ toys. Here, the kitchen’s oak panelling transitions seamlessly outside into ipe decking. The decking folds up to form seating, a storage trunk, a barbecue surround and a garden fence. Hot backyard design idea: let your outdoor millwork do double, even triple, duty.


rooftop, limestone and Douglas fir define the kitchen, which has uninterrupted views of the Toronto’s downtown.

5. Add all-weather amenities

The centrepiece of dentist-slash-curator Kenneth Montague‘s rooftop garden is this limestone-clad elevator shaft. At one end of the structure is the kitchen and dining area seen above, while at the other, a sauna provides a place to warm up on chillier nights.

Alison Milne - Nick Morgan House

6. Take cues from cottage country

This downtown backyard – an extension of a home designed by Alison Milne for a vintage-loving Bay Streeter – is the next best thing to a rustic Muskoka getaway. An industrial fireplace stands in for a firepit, while the adjacent garage’s rustic reclaimed wood (from Canadian Salvaged Timber) adds to the outdoor space’s warm, cabin-like feel.

Jonathan Goldman House - Audax Architecture

7. Keep it simple

Don’t have a green thumb? Consider this backyard design idea: opt for low-maintenance, high-impact modern landscaping. Audax Architecture designed this boxy Yorkville home‘s yard using poured concrete and stained cedar. The strikingly sparse result nicely complements the building’s airy interiors.


8. Use dense greenery to block the city from view

Part of a laneway home designed by Taylor_Smyth, this ipe-clad patio is planted with English ivy that crawls up the walls and winds itself along telephone wires. As a result, it’s easy to imagine being in some enchanted Yorkshire garden when sitting in the space.


9. Create connections between indoors and out

The owners of Stylegarage transformed this Mimico property from a dry goods store into a sunshine-filled family home. Here, a stone pathway in their lush, breezy backyard design leads to an industrial garage door that rolls up. Because of this, the garden and the house’s kitchen area are better linked.

Urban Capital

10. Make friends with the neighbours

Shortly after Jennifer and Jill moved into the townhouse across from their friends Rob and Daryn, the two couples had the wall that separates their yards customized with a sliding door that connects the outdoor spaces. As a result, they’ve taken over-the-fence conversations to a cozier level.

11. Explore cascading levels for your backyard patio design 

Central to the project was a new rear addition, conceived as a long box with a wall of glass that folds away come warm summer days. Paul Raff Studio created a spacious urban garden by creating cascading levels patio to deliver different amounts of privacy.

Sarah Keenleyside backyard

12. Material-driven landscaping design

Sarah Keenleyside, designer and host of HGTV’s Backyard Builds, create a hidden oasis, broken down into discrete zones, in the heart of Parkdale.


Looking for more great ideas for outdoor spaces? Read our guides to creating a patio paradise, blissful backyard and condo balcony oasis. For even more inspiration, check out our Beautiful BackyardsPinterest board.

Categories: Spaces

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