Backyard Dreams

Do you have a backyard? Alex and I have always lived in small apartments without outdoor space, but we daydream about having a yard (or a little garden, we’re not picky!) someday. Here are 9 jaw-dropping backyards that would feel magical for reading the paper and sipping evening cocktails…

Dreamy, right?

P.S. My friend’s pretty apartment, and drinks on the fire escape.

(Photos by Bruce Buck/NYTimes; Aude Borromee Architecte Maison; CWB Architects; Kirchplatz Office and Residence; Cool Hunter; Turett Architects, and Studio Mueller)

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  6. I also would love name and placement of plants. I have a two tier back yard and this garden is lovely. Would like to try to somewhat duplicate it in mine.

  7. Whoa, I’m extremely interested in those designs. Just one word – awesome. I love having a life together with the natural world.

  8. Wonderful Designs…all backyard are looking nice..
    My Website

  9. Those last three are gorgeous – especially the very last. WOW. The first few are beautiful photos, but I think it’s the architecture that is impressive, not the yards.
    But like a few other commenters before me, I’m from a place where big, beautiful backyards are not uncommon (Sydney!). I can’t imagine not having a space for my toddler to run around. But on the flipside, what I wouldn’t do to live in Manhattan for a while!

  10. I like Cool Spaces for my home and I look it as a part of interior design

  11. I grew up on a farm with lots of outdoor space and always wanted the same for my children. Whilst studying I had a tiny backyard, which was low maintnance, and a massive balcony, which was just perfect. But when first moving in with my partner we had no outdoor space and we both missed it. We knew we wanted children and didn’t want to stay living next to a busy road. So we moved out of town into an Old Printworks and turned the back car park into a garden. It’s perfect for the children to play!

    Absolute improvement of quality of life.

  12. Those are some BEAUTIFUL backyards! I really loved all of them.

    Also, the drinks of the fire escape post is TOO cute. How fun!

    Kate from Clear the Way

  13. These outdoor spaces are lovely.

    I live in the suburbia and have a big back yard. Unfortunately though, by the time I get finished the mowing and weeding, I rarely have time to enjoy it.

  14. I love the first picture and the other where the basement opens up into a porch under the rest of the house and then a yard. It’s a cool way to maximize space. I’m about to move and am going to have a tiny corner of a yard for the first time since I lived with my parents! I’m really excited about it even though if I laid down I could probably touch all of the sides at once.


    Kristina does the Internets

  15. I wouldn’t really call any of those “backyards”…more like patios. But they are lovely! And this is coming from someone who grew up on 80 acres of forest-land as her “backyard”. I would feel absolutely claustrophobic living in city without any sort of outdoor space. It’s so interesting how different we all live, and what we all feel is “home”.

  16. We have a GIANT yard. I mostly love it but I also know that I am not utilizing the all the space correctly. I dream of having it filled with flowers and bushes that take care of themselves and need no pruning. :) Also, I would like a privacy fence to block out our backdoor neighbor. He likes to collect junk and he keeps this really sad looking dog in a pen all the damn time and it breaks my heart. I sneak her food and nose rubs all of the time.

  17. I grew up in a house on 2 acres, and I just recently moved from an apartment that was located on a horse farm that had 10 acres! We now live on a half-acre, which is small but quite serviceable by comparison but still quite serviceable. I honestly don’t know how people live without a little patch of yard to themselves!

  18. I too live in a small apartment and dream of having my own garden. So coming across this post really made my day!

    Il Mare Atelier

  19. We live in a rental and our backyard looked like a dump site. But I am slowly turning it onto an edible garden. It is taking time but I am getting there. (Have no idea what I am doing just planting and trial and error).

  20. We live on 9 acres of forest, some of it cleared, in Australia, we often dream of an apartment in NYC without a backyard as we feel like we would have so much more time – not maintaining it – we love it but it is a lot of work, maybe we could do a house swap for a bit?

  21. A few years ago I shared a house with two FILTHY girls. I couldn’t stand it and I had to get out of there but the problem? We had a great patio space that I adoredddd. I still miss it! Backyards are the best! Especially for summer cocktail parties!!

  22. Backyards are just about the stuff of dreams here in Sydney. I have a pot plant on my balcony and that’s about as far as it goes! One day I would love to have a patio big enough for my family and friends to fit into comfortably so that I can have my favourite people over to share the summer with. One day!

    Lauren x
    Gordon + Gold

  23. Rather funny …. I was thinking I would get some inspiration for my yard from the pics…. But it’s just made me more thankful for my unorganized mess of woods, creek and pond (with dog trampled bushes around the house!)
    Lucky that I live in southern Appalachian mountains! (But cities are awesome to visit. Just glad I’ve got a little cabin with big porches for my real life.)

  24. oh man, that last one is a dream!

    We are lucky here on the east coast of NSW Australia, we are on 1/2 acre and close to the beaches. Very different to the NY life- it’s all about the kitchen garden, chooks and raising our own meat!

    xo em

  25. i love the last picture. i dream of having a garden to drink my morning coffee by.

  26. Drinks just automatically taste better outside. How many more days until spring???

  27. These are not real back yards! They are just patios!

  28. Such diversity of homes in that city… how awesome and beautiful! Enjoy the search (even if it is for a little garden- just as perfect).

  29. Beautiful! The reality isn’t always so hot, though. It was my dream until my husband and I moved into the bottom two floors of a brownstone on the UWS and our above neighbors were so nosey! They’d listen in on our conversations silently or comment or just watch and broadcast back to me what they’d seen. We moved after a year and a half.

  30. Yes.

    Our building only has a concrete “garden” and we’re still majorly envious of the ground floor apt that has access to it.

  31. holy shit. these are outstanding ! … and SO out of our reach right now. *tear*

  32. I LOVE the first photo!

  33. These are outstanding. So beautiful! You clearly have excellent taste and as far as actually having one of these amazing yards one day… just keep it in your stream of consciousness and it will come to you! It’s amazing what the mind is capable of :)



  34. we have a city lot. I love the size, not too difficult to cut the grass and big enough for the kids to have a slip and slide and baby pool. And a fire pit. I hope you get one someday! love the first picture.

  35. i live on the outskirts of a small village and i am so lucky to have grassy fields and forests as my backyard :)

  36. sounds like a dream! Love the nature especially in the centre of big cities!

  37. These are beautiful backyards! But my dream is lots of grass and perfect trees for climbing in.


  38. upto I saw the draft saying $8397, I didn’t believe that…my… best friend was trully bringing home money in their spare time on there computar.. there sisters neighbour had bean doing this for only 18 months and resantly took care of the loans on there cottage and bourt themselves a Citroën 2CV. go to……

  39. We’ll be buying a home pretty soon and would love a little outdoor space to entertain and maybe grow some veggies. My absolute favorite thing, though, is a living room that extends into the backyard, with the yard becoming really part of the living space, with a comfy seating area and space for outdoor dining…oh to dream…

  40. We’ll be buying a home pretty soon and would love a little outdoor space to entertain and maybe grow some veggies. My absolute favorite thing, though, is a living room that extends into the backyard, with the yard becoming really part of the living space, with a comfy seating area and space for outdoor dining…oh to dream…

  41. Such a graceful setting for each of the homes, what kind of area do these reside in?

    -Samudaworth Tree Service
    Tree Pruning Brooklyn

  42. You’ve really made me think about this Jo. I am used to sprawling lawns and big gardens. It must be fun trying to create that perfect space in the city.

  43. Oh, these places look so fancy. We have a little backyard at our rental on STT and it is surrounded in fruit trees that make me feel so rich :)

  44. I would love to know more about one in Lisbon, I am from there and still have my grama’s condo with yard, would love to copy motif…all are wonderful

  45. We’ve been daydreaming of a back yard for years now too. We want one especially for our dog to run around and for us to enjoy reading & bbq-ing. Ah~ one day.. one day :)

  46. Where did you find the one from Lisbon? Would like to know more about it…

  47. Living in Iowa my whole life, I’ve always had a yard. Even when I lived in an apartment I a balcony with a huge common green space that essentially felt like a yard. The big drawback to having your own yard (in my opinion), is the maintenance! Mowing, pruning, trimming, planting, etc. are NOT my cup of tea. Luckily the lawn in the home we just bought (our first home! :) has a pretty small yard so we’ll have the best of both worlds — a green space with minimal maintenance.

  48. I live in a small southern california condo, but we are lucky enough to have a nice patio. (I say this is postively as possible.) I blog about the patio alot because I love being outdoors. Our next house will have a full yard, I promise! I want a pool!

  49. I live in Arkansas and could not function without a backyard. Ours now is tiny for the area and we can’t wait till we can move out of our duplex and into a real house! Why? We want SPACE!

    Boyfriend grew up on loootttsss of acreage in Oklahoma and can’t stand being inside constantly. He needs the outdoors like an addict. He gets cranky with withdrawls if not!

  50. these are stunning! my husband and i have little in a little apartment since we got married five years ago and in two weeks we’re moving into a house and I am most excited about having a backyard for our daughter to play in and a place to drink our coffee in the morning.

  51. YEAH…. i could take ANY of those, please :)

    are you still looking for a place in brooklyn? did you guys ever move? not sure of your budget, but i bet you could get a whole brownstone (backyard included) in the historic downtown/harismis cove/paulus hook area of jersey city for the price of a 3-bedroom in any decent neighborhood in brooklyn and probably be closer to many go-to places in manhattan (christopher and hudson in manhattan is only a 12-minute train ride)… just a thought ;)


  52. the last two with all of the lighting in the trees and bushes is amazing!! our backyard looks like a yard sale with kiddie toys as we have 3 little ones! one day when they’re older, we’ll get rid of the swingset and yard art. until then, we’ll enjoy their little selves running around a not so perfect back yard.

  53. my backyard is one of my favorite places ever! we’re about to move in to a new house (yay!) and are mostly dreaming about recreating our backyard there.

  54. Ahh, these are so dreamy! I haven’t had a proper backyard since I lived in my parents’ house (and THAT was a dreamy backyard..!) and sometimes I miss it terribly.. like when someone posts photos of gorgeous backyards… ;)

    xx, Eleanor

  55. Pretty pretty…After years of taking care of a backyard my husband & I are looking forward to no backyard after our last kiddo leaves home. Hhaha…it’s all about perspective ;)

  56. You’re definitely a city girl – where I come from these are just patios :)

    • Haha, I had the same thought :)

  57. We don’t have a backyard at the moment as we live in an apartment, but our building does have an amazing roof top garden with views over San Francisco and the bay (we’re in Berkeley). We also have a shared internal courtyard on our level so while we don’t have our own garden we still have lots of plants outside our windows. We moved here from Australia, where we had a decent sized backyard. It wasn’t nicely landscaped like the beautiful backyards you’ve featured but it was nice having space for the kids to run around and to be able to grow a veggie garden. While we have plenty of outdoor space in our shared areas for the kids to play in I do miss having a veggie garden. I don’t miss having to do the gardening work though! I actually wrote about this on my blog about a month ago…

  58. Too bad some of the pics are blurry, this would be a fabulous post to have clearer pictures for. Some of those backyards are pretty remarkable! I just wish you could see them (and also your pregnancy announcement post picture) more clearer.

  59. - says...

    My husband and I have a very small yard in the back of our city home — 25 feet by 25 feet. It’s been so funny to see how friends react to it when they visit. Our friends from the ‘burbs seem to think it’s sad, and our friends from NYC think it’s the grandest most indulgent thing on earth. :)

  60. I have a tiny little inner city backyard and it’s the reason I bought my house. It’s just enough space for my small dog to enjoy and just perfect for cocktails and sunny morning coffee’s.

  61. I like the look of the third one from the bottom, but I think I’d want more coverage from the neighbors’ windows. That said, would you take a balcony? :) It’s amazing what you can grow in one or how you can style it into an outdoor living room (in nice weather, obviously).

  62. We have a tiny sunken patio behind our basement city apartment, and its the best thing! We put our Christmas tree out there this year because we don’t have room for one inside, and in the summer we have a sand & water table that our son loves.

  63. Our backyard was one of the selling points when we bought it this summer. And we had a mystery gardener visit us after a few months of living there! We hadn’t bought a lawnmower yet and it was looking sort of bad, but someone did it for us! It’s still a mystery as to who it was, but I still am grateful :)

    Here’s the backyard:

  64. How beautiful!! I wish I had backyards like these! I’ve always wanted a backyard with a lil space for a patio and a tree swing!

    Ergo – Blog

  65. Beautiful! We have a bit of green space with our town house. The best part about it is that it opens onto communal green space with a hill. So in the winter when we actually get snow all the kids can go sledding. Our boys love that.

  66. That first one looks dangerous! I could see a tipsy adult toppling over the edge. Cool idea though :)