How can I make my backyard look more Christmassy? 9 ways to spread the holiday cheer outside your home

From twinkling lights and festive foliage to decorative touches, sprinkle seasonal magic outdoors with these ideas

a backyard covered in snow
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Decorating our homes for the holidays is part of the fun. But if you're looking out of your rear windows onto bare branches and dormant beds, you might be wondering how can I make my backyard look more Christmassy?

It's usual for the focus to be on the interior and exterior street view of our homes. However, with these ideas from our experts, it's easy to spread some seasonal cheer outside with some clever Christmas decorating.

Whether you live in chillier spots, or further south where it's warmer, there's something for everyone. 

1. Hang a wreath on your shed door

Ivyline brass Christmas wreath hanger

(Image credit: Ivyline)

Front doors aren't the only entrances that deserve an advent wreath. If you want your back yard to look more Christmassy, hang a wreath on a shed or summerhouse door, particularly if you can see it when you look out of your windows.

'Wreaths on doors are an especially good Christmas decor option for urban dwellers who may not have a back yard or much outside space,' says New York-based Kat Aul Cervoni, landscape designer and founder, Staghorn NYC and The Cultivation by Kat.

2. Illuminate your path with solar lights

Forest solar mushrooms, set of 12

(Image credit: The Solar Centre)

Modern garden lighting can be as pretty as they are practical, so have some fun with garden ground lights. 

'Placing solar lights along your garden path will give your eyes a whimsical pathway to focus on when you are outside, or looking out from your back window,' says Lucy Gough, stylist, art director, author and online interior styling course creator.

'If you use lights in the shape of stars or mushrooms you can use them at other times of the year or swap them around, as their shape is not too seasonal.' 

3. Add potted or planted evergreens

evergreen trees in a snowy winter garden

(Image credit: Getty Images / Jaziell)

If your backyard has only deciduous trees (which drop their leaves in the fall), it will likely look bare in the winter. 

Snow-topped evergreens are synonymous with Santa's frozen north pole HQ. So adding potted evergreens such as firs, spruce or conifers will not only add color to your yard in winter, it will bring a more festive feel when the holidays roll around. 

'Plantings are a great way to give your garden a festive, holiday feeling,' says New York-based garden designer, Amber Freda. 'Christmas tree-type evergreens either planted in the ground or in pots will work well in both your back and front yards.' 

4. Festoon string lights

sparkling icicle lights from Lights4fun

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Festoons of string or icicle lights will bring some seasonal sparkle to your backyard, once the sun goes down. Hanging them on outbuildings or trees, as well as your home's exterior, means you can see and enjoy them from inside too.  

'Decorative touches that make your front yard more Christmassy, work beautifully in the backyard as well,' says Kat. 'Neatly clipped evergreen shrubs practically beg to be wrapped in lights.'

Put lights on a timer so they automatically switch off when you go to bed. That way you'll reduce light pollution and allow birds, wildlife and your neighbours to enjoy their shuteye too. 

5. Hang garlands along fences

snow covered festive garland on a fence

(Image credit: Getty Images)

'A bundle of evergreen boughs along garden fencing can add lushness and fragrance to your backyard,' says Kat. 'Don’t forget to add lights, if you live somewhere they can withstand the weather. 'Lights, wreaths and garland look beautiful and inviting on secondary buildings such as barns, greenhouses and sheds too.'

'As well as garlands, you can hang green, gold or red bunting along the back fence in parallel with warm white fairy lights on a clear cord,' says stylist, author and art director, Lucy Gough. 

'Hammer in a nail every 20" along the fence to wrap them on as you go along. Buy the connectable fairy lights so you can add more if necessary.'

6. Plant winter berry bushes

winter berry holly bush covered in snow

(Image credit: Getty Images / Joe McUbed)

This idea is unlikely to yield instant results. But if you plan on staying in your home, planting a holly bush or hedge, will provide you with festive red berries and glossy evergreen foliage to look forward to each winter.

Holly's prickly leaves make it an excellent plant for a privacy hedge, as it'll keep unwanted visitors away too.  

7. Decorate an outdoor Christmas tree

snow covered outdoor Christmas tree

(Image credit: Getty Images / Elena Popova)

Planted or potted evergreens in the garden offer a natural festive touch and look gorgeous unadorned or wrapped in string lights. However, if you want to go further, extend the indoor theme outside with tree decorations.

'It can be worth making backyard patio and deck spaces feel similar to indoor living spaces,' says Kat. 'So if space and budget allows, add a Christmas tree with lights and decorations to your backyard living area.'

8. Attract robins

Robin red breast on a bird table in a snowy garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The sight of a Robin red breast against a snowy backdrop evokes festive vibes. If you live somewhere that expects snowfall around the holidays, (and even if you don't), leave out food that Robins like to eat to attract them to your yard.

According to the RSPB, Robins are ground feeders, preferring to hop around on the ground (looking for worms) or on bird feeders. 

'Robins like to eat mealworms,' says the RSPB's expert. 'They'll also eat dried fruit, or fruit such as apples and pears. Don’t leave out anything mouldy or salty though and be mindful if you have a dog, as vine fruits can be toxic to them.'

9. Plant colorful annuals

red pansies in snowy garden

(Image credit: Getty Images / Takuya Aona)

Colorful flowers that are able to survive the winter are a wonderful addition to your backyard. Choose colors, such as ruby red and golden yellow, as they will offer a winter display with a festive feel. 

'Pansies and kale are cool season annuals that offer a way to add some color to your flower beds or containers and will also work well with a holiday theme,' says garden designer, Amber Freda. 

Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites

A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written  for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.