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8 Landscaping Ideas To Fix A Boring Backyard

Felicia Feaster at HGTV says of the garden seen below that, “This backyard benefits from the subtle use of various textures on its terraces that ups the excitement level.”

hgtv gardening disasterThis is subtle?

I’m counting 5, possibly 6 different clearly varieties of stone and brick crowded into the same space. The fact that these materials are so dramatically different from one another in color and texture makes it clear that they are not local materials, but came from a visit to a Home Depot or another big box chain. This makes the design seem hastily put together and inauthentic – an impression that is accented by the obvious fact that the clean-and-bright walls never served any function other than to provide stimulation for a bored home owner who had no idea what to do with his or her own yard. The garden design thus screams of an alienation between people and the land that they occupy.

Screaming landscapes aren’t subtle. But then, maybe the point was not really subtlety. This photograph was offered by HGTV as an one of 8 Landscaping Ideas To Fix A Boring Backyard.

If we’re going to go for big and gaudy landscape design simply in order to avoid being boring, let’s go for the gusto. The following are my own 8 Landscaping Ideas To Fix A Boring Backyard:

bouncy house garden1. Permanently Installed Multicolor Castle Bouncy House

This back yard is excessively mowed. Grass in a natural setting isn’t anything close to this neat and trim. The homeowners look like they have nothing better to do than to spend their weekends compulsively running motorized devices back and forth outside their house, making sure that every single blade of grass is cut to the very same height.


We’ve fixed the problem with a giant inflatable bouncy house that is designed to look like a castle. Most people rent a bouncy house just for a day. Not these homeowners! They’re showing that they are interesting people by giving the neighborhood children a place to jump around 24/7.

gardenmonitor2. Computer Monitor Container Gardening

Down the street, whenever the president of the PTO feels a little glum, she puts out some geraniums in painted flower pots.


You still have those old computer monitors stacked up in the corner of your garage. Make us of them! Simply cut off the tops with a hacksaw and fill with potting soil. Then put in your favorite plants and water. The old cooling vents will provide good drainage.

old lawn signs3. Vintage Political Lawn Signs

Your nextdoor neighbor just put up political signs in his yard, promoting candidates running for public office in this year’s election.


Following the trends just makes you appear desperate. Let other homeowners fall into the trap of following political fads, always having lawn signs for the very latest political candidates. You can breathe easier, and show a more classic style. Put some vintage political yard signs up in front of your house, to give the reassuring appearance of a bygone era.

mining diy4. Front Yard Mine Entrance

A front yard is typically thought of as a flat, smooth, surface.


Do you own your mineral rights? Use them? There are miles of raw materials underneath your home, just waiting to be dug up and sold. Show your neighborhood what DIY spirit really looks like. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can put in an old-timey rail system so that your kids can ride a mine cart down into the bowels of the earth before climbing back up into the light of day… and then doing it all over again!

zombie garden gnomes5. Zombie Garden Gnomes

There’s that woman around the corner who put a plastic smiling garden gnome underneath her shrubbery, as if to suggest that there really might be a little nature spirit remaining in the suburban subdivision. However, the thing never moves, and its face is stuck in that insipid expression.


Here’s a better landscape idea: Zombie garden gnomes. Yes, these gnomes don’t move, either, but maybe that’s just because they’re a bit stiff from being undead. It’s more plausible, and a more fitting representation of what a nature spirit would look like out in the burbs.

dinosaur gardens6. Life Size Velociraptor Statue

Have you noticed that your landscaping always appears to be placed in the present time? On it creeps into the future, without ever getting there.


This life size velociraptor statue may not make visitors to your home feel comfortable, but it will guarantee that they won’t be bored. Yes, this statue is actually for sale, to be placed in people’s back yards, for the low, low price of $2,250.

improvised explosive device7. Lawn Improvised Explosive Device

What do you experience when you step off the sidewalk onto your lawn? The same damn thing every time.


Have a landscape designer include a few of these improvised explosive devices in your lawn – and make them subtle. For best effect, dig them in just under the grass in the autumn to surprise kids playing in the snow, or with a few daffodil bulbs for a dramatic effect in the springtime.

native groundcover8. Poison Ivy

Leaves of three – let it be. That’s what they’re always telling you to do. Do you always follow the rules?


Think different. Poison ivy is a deep-rooted native perennial groundcover that can be used in the place of the Eurasian grasses that have come to dominate the suburban landscapes of North America. This plant will definitely stand up to foot traffic.

3 thoughts on “8 Landscaping Ideas To Fix A Boring Backyard”

  1. Tom says:

    Damn, F.G. this is about the coolest thing you’ve written! Great post! I love the mine entrance idea and especially the IED’s laid around for a completely modern American touch. You’re right about using native plants that are already established like poison ivy, oak or sumac – look at all the trouble and work you’ll save just cultivating them in place (by leaving them alone, basically). Now, the only criticism I have is the zombie garden gnomes – too Halloween for my taste, but I like the fact that they truly represent the spirit of nature everywhere at this point. Your ingenious use of the old computer monitor saves it from being in a landfill or another member of the Giant Pacific Gyre, and reminded me of the scene in one of the Terminator movies with of kids sitting in front of the destroyed t.v. with the real fire in it, putting it to good use finally. Finally, the recently-old political signs, pointing out how our passionate political choices really don’t do any good – like politics in general – was a wonderful idea.

    Thanks for the laugh on Memorial Day morning. Have a good one! [ I see in upstate NY they had a snow storm! ]

  2. Dave says:

    Tom’s got it right. This is great humour. Didn’t see the bird bath made from discarded truck tires, but it’s just as well. Whose tires would be safe if the idea got around?

    1. F.G. Fitzer says:

      Thanks, guys. Also, left out, Dave, are the white-painted rocks at the end of the driveway. They call attention to themselves, but are definitely boring.

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