Garden Trends Gardening Plant psychology

Backyarding Personality Types

Backyarding—the trend to use the backyard for everything from teleworking and working out to relaxing and recreating—has a different purpose for each of us. Identifying your backyard’s role in your family’s health and happiness is the key to cultivating a purposeful outdoor space that is customized to your needs.

“How do you create a more purposeful outdoor space? First, you need to identify what type of ‘backyarder’ you are,” explains Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) and the TurfMutt Foundation. “Then, you can get to work in your yard with that idea in mind.”

Here are just a few of the backyarding personality types. Which one(s) are you?

Illustration of expert landscaper

• Expert Landscaper
Your yard makes neighbors green with envy. You know how to maintain a healthy living landscape all year long, and you have the latest outdoor power equipment to make even big jobs easier. Your idea of a good time? Spending the weekend doing yardwork. You love the sense of accomplishment that comes from working in your yard, and friends can count on you for advice about their own living landscapes. 

Illustration of environmentalist

You know that nature starts in your own backyard and that taking small steps in your yard can make a big impact on climate change. As the proverbial Robin to your yard’s Batman, you embrace your role in supporting the superhero powers of your living landscape (capturing and filtering rainwater, producing oxygen, and absorbing carbon just to name a few). 

Illustration of Nature lover

• Nature Lover
No binging Netflix for you. You subscribe to “Nature TV” and prefer to spend your free time watching the birds, bats, butterflies and other wildlife that count on your yard for food and shelter. You cultivate a living landscape that supports a rich biodiversity with butterfly bushes, flowering plants, water sources and trees and shrubs with nooks for nesting and food. 

Illustration of horticulturist

• Horticulturist 
The Plant Hardiness Zone Map is bookmarked on your browser because putting the right plant in the right place is the living landscape Golden Rule you live by. You consider location, maintenance, sunlight and watering requirements, as well as your climate zone and lifestyle needs, before you even think about sticking your shovel in the dirt.

Illustration of kid zone creator

• Kid Zone Creator
You know the safest place for your kids to be is in your own backyard, and you work hard to create an outdoor fun zone they will never want to leave. A flat area of sturdy turfgrass to play sports and pitch a tent? Check. Treehouse? Check. Zipline strung safely between backyard trees? Check. An elevated garden where they can help grow the family’s meals? Check. Natural playscapes, like a patch of sand bordered by rocks and log stump seating? Check. “Fun” is your middle name, and you are winning at this game.

Illustration of pet pamperer

 Pet Pamperer 
Your focus is on Fido, and you take cues from your four-legged friends about how to purpose your backyard. You’ve planted sturdy turfgrass like buffalo grass or Bermuda grass that can stand up to pet play, and you’ve used soft foliage to create a natural barricade between “off limits” areas and the rest of the lawn. Trees and shrubs are strategically planted for shade, and you’ve even set up a shallow water feature to help your pup cool off on hot days. Planting with purpose for you means keeping toxic plants out of the picture.

Illustration of entertainer

• Entertainer Extraordinaire 
Your backyard was the neighborhood hot spot long before the pandemic made that trend posh. Family milestones, birthdays, graduations, reunions, socially distanced BBQs—your yard is “the” place to gather. Your yard is set up for success with patio furniture, fire pit, yard games, plenty of outdoor seating, string lights, and maybe even an outdoor kitchen.

Illustration of Zen master

• Zen Master 
Enjoying your morning coffee on the balcony as songbirds serenade you. Meditating under the shade of a tree. De-stressing by swinging in a backyard hammock. Taking a break from your busy day to feel the sun on your face and the breeze in your hair. Your backyard is your sacred space for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. You know that spending time outside is good for your health and well-being, and that thanks to your yard these benefits are only steps away.

Article brought to you by the TurfMutt Foundation. To learn more about creating the yard of your dreams, visit

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

6 comments on “Backyarding Personality Types

  1. Christine Lemieux

    Yes, there is always overlap, but it is always useful to try and determine priorities and goals! I have lots of garden areas and the focus is somewhat different in each. But what always motivates all of it is a love of nature and helping/attracting nature. I am happily labeling myself….and rarely get into heated arguments with myself ??

  2. Margaret

    Labels are for plants! I have aspects of five of these categories. No kids or dogs at the moment. Don’t like to entertain outside; it’s too hot and I hate mosquitoes. Does that make me a multiple personality gardener? Do I need an intervention?

    • I too clearly have a multiple personality. I think no intervention is needed unless you start arguing with yourself and the disagreement becomes heated.

  3. Amusing but inaccurate. I am a professional horticulturist, and conform to none of these types, not even ‘horticulturist’. The landscape styles come up more at work than at home. We have landscapes that are designed for children, and some that, although not designed specifically for dogs, are compliant to such function. Some landscapes are for entertaining. We even have landscapes at the campgrounds where children learn about nature and environmentalism. Although there are no zen gardens, this is a Christian conference center, so many landscapes are peaceful retreats, including some spots along the unlandscaped hiking trails. All that is lacking are landscapes of the first category, since only small areas are outfitted with refined landscapes, and even the most refined are designed to be compatible with the surrounding forest.

  4. I fear my gardening and landscaping falls into none of the above. I look at my yard as a canvas and use the plants as paint. I am due to start my Master Gardener courses next week here in Granbury and perhaps that will bring a new light to what I am attempting to do. Great blog and good information.

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