47 vintage backyard ideas you’ll want to re-create for a relaxing sixties-style outdoor vibe

40 vintage backyard ideas so fab, you’ll want to recreate relaxing sixties-style outdoor living vibe

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If you love the mid-century style, or want to re-create that beautiful vintage backyard feel, look no further!

Here you’ll find 47 of the best ideas for fantastic old-fashioned patios, creative decks and cool backyard living spaces that you’re going to love.

And because homes and gardens come in all different shapes and sizes, you’ll find a range of features — like enclosed porches, redwood decking, brickwork, gazebos, swimming pools, outdoor kitchens, trellises and lots more great ideas from the sixties.

Start here if you want to get some retro inspo for the kind of backyard oasis you won’t ever want to leave.

Water garden in foreground, swimming pool in the back

Favorite outdoor rooms: Decks and patios (article from 1964)

With a growing emphasis on outdoor living, the areas that serve this way of life are becoming increasingly important.

Not too long ago, outdoor living meant a front or side porch. But the porch is rapidly disappearing from the scene, since nowadays, the porch is often enclosed for year-round living and called a family room.

The popular outdoor living rooms are now patios and decks. The patio has come to mean any outdoor living area within prescribed boundaries.

The deck is a variation of the patio — really a wooden-floored patio — which may be as simple or elaborate as a family’s need and pocketbook dictates.

1. A vintage wooden deck built around a tree (1966)

A small, richly-detailed room is shaded by a twisted old live oak. Festoons of ivy ornament grape-stake walls, aralias and evergreen groundcovers fill the plant beds.

Flower color comes in pots. The floor is executed in redwood and concrete aggregate — beautiful and easy to care for. 

These may be merely open areas exposed to the sun completely. However, an overhead sunshade of wood can be designed to seem an extension from the house roof. This provides an area both shaded and secure from showers for added patio or deck pleasure.

Adjacent areas can then be covered with an open sunshade that consists of a decorative wood pattern. Or, a vertical sun-shade such as a fence or a louvered baffle (fan shutters) can set off one area from another.

Small backyard with private deck built around a tree - Vintage landscaping from 1966

A deck need not be adjacent to a house level, although it adds convenience to have a dining deck near the kitchen, or a deck for entertaining as an extension of the living room to facilitate the flow of traffic and conversation.

Any site in the garden that appeals to the individual family may be chosen for a deck — a private sunning corner, on top of the garage, or adjacent to the garage or carport. You could even build a deck on stilts — tree house fashion but without the tree. (Oakland, California – from American Home magazine, 1966)

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2. Brick terraced backyard and decking, with angled views of the home (1962)

Brick terraced backyard and decking, with angled views of the home (1962)


3. Gorgeous garden gazebo

Cute white backyard pavilion by the pool from 1967

Vintage backyard ideas

The trend toward outdoor living has made many people realize that there’s no place like home for leisure-time fun. Many a backyard now serves as a playground for both adults and children.

Families are leading the sporting life in concrete and grassy game areas that provide full backyard facilities for a variety of individual and team sports, ranging all the way from lawn tennis, basketball and badminton to shuffleboard and horseshoes.

ALSO SEE: 130 vintage ’50s house plans used to build millions of mid-century homes we still live in today

Before constructing your own game area, it is important to consider its location in relationship to the sun. (This is especially important for tennis and badminton courts.) Check the velocity of prevailing winds, and, as a good neighbor, take into account how the play areas will affect the appearance of surround properties.

The most tempting addition to a private playground is the backyard swimming pool with its many advantages of privacy, convenience and recreation every member of the family can enjoy.

4. Pretty brick patio deck around a circular pool (1966)

Pretty brick patio deck around a circular pool in the backyard - Vintage landscaping from 1966

For families living in rented homes, or not yet ready to invest in a permanent pool, the above-ground pool provides the perfect way to get in the swim during warm weather without driving through heavy traffic to the nearest beach or lake.

ALSO SEE: 52 beautiful vintage in-ground swimming pools

Ideal for youngsters

These pools are ideal for the youngsters and can be easily dismantled and stored when not in us, and, of course, if you move, you can take your pool along with you.

In your design for outdoor living, there should be provisions made for the children as well as adults. Reserve an area for swings, slides, sandbox or wading pool. For safety’s sake, consider fencing in the childrens’ section of the yard.

Lighting up your backyard

Although people enjoy the casualness of outdoor living, they also want the conveniences of indoors, such as comfortable furniture, adequate lighting and a measure of privacy.

Today’s lawn furniture is lightweight and imaginatively styled in a variety of decors. The backward can be lit effectively by a combination of ground lights and hidden “spots” in trees.

For privacy, plant “screens” of shrubs, or put up panels or fencing. Game areas can be defined and sheltered by means of shrubs and trees arranged so that a portion of the open area is concealed.

Modern backyard gardening makes extensive use of portable planters and terrace tubs. Another easy and interesting possibility for the homeowner who wants decoration without drudgery is the Oriental-style garden, consisting largely of stones and statues.

5. Large yellow and white canvas dome over the garden (1961)

Canvas dome gives dramatic protection to spacious outdoor room.

Large yellow and white canvas dome over the garden (1961)

Vintage outdoor ideas: Backyards geared toward family fun (1963)

Since World War II, more and more families have been proving that there’s no place like home for outdoor living!

What started with Saturday night cookouts at a backyard grill has progressed to the point where today, many people don’t have to go any further than their own property to enjoy favorite sports of a swim In order to make maximum use of outdoor areas, it’s important to first assess the family needs and the functions each area is to fulfill.

Ideally, a backyard is broken up into ‘living’ and game areas

In planning outdoor projects, careful consideration should be given to existing landscaping, and sun and wind exposure.

ALSO SEE: Post-war housing: See 35 small starter homes from the ’40s & ’50s

6. Outdoor “living room”

Many families have extended their ‘living room’ outdoors by means of decks, terraces, patios and porches of flagstone, concrete, tile or wood.

These sunning, dining and entertaining areas may be enclosed and protected by screening or fencing. Ideally, the barbecue pit should be located nearby.

A party-style backyard from the 1960s with a covered porch and BBQ pit

Today’s backyard is also a recreation ‘room’, where the family keeps fit by having fun. Although each outdoor game has its own requirements as to space, with a little thought, play areas for several sports can be included on the home property.

Careful planning can turn a concrete patio or driveway into a family sports area with a shuffleboard court, a basketball hoop and deck tennis provisions. Grassy areas of the backyard are ideal for volleyball, deck tennis, badminton, croquet, golf putting, etc. 

When many families feel like a swim, they head for their own backyard instead of the nearest lake or shore area. The swimming pool, once a luxury for a privileged few, is now priced within reach of the average homeowner.

ALSO SEE: Pretty vintage concrete block walls offered privacy & light for mid-century modern homes in the 50s & 60s

7 & 8: Swimming pool with decking and trellis

A pretty and private backyard pool area in a vintage style from 1969 (2)

A pretty and private backyard pool area in a vintage style from 1969 (1)

For the family without a conventional swimming pool, there are plastic wading pools, many of them large enough to permit adults, as well as youngsters, to keep cool in warmer weather.

The modern concept of total development of property has led to today’s practice of utilizing the entire backyard space to meet the specific needs of every member of the family.

ALSO SEE: Flowing space between indoors and out made this small house seem larger

Make a backyard children’s haven

Although the backyard has become a play area for adults, children have not been forgotten. Many yards have areas enclosed with bullt-in ‘babysitter’ fences for complete protection from neighborhood hazards.

Youngsters play on outdoor ‘kiddle gyms,’ slides, swings, and sandboxes made of modern “safety-first” materials in imaginative shapes and colors.

Families can enjoy outdoor living more with ‘indoor’ conveniences. Modern lawn furniture is as good-looking and comfortable as it is durable. Backyard lighting arrangements extend game-time and permit eventing use of outdoor living ‘rooms.’

Today’s home-owner relies on portable planters to keep his backyard as pretty as it is practical. Plant boxes and tubs mounted on casters or dollies are easily moved and maintained, and are colorful additions to terraces, patios and sun decks. Even small trees and shrubs will thrive in terrace tubs.

9. A round vintage outdoor living area (1966)

In St Petersburg, Florida, architect Randolph Wedding made this circular outdoor living room. Below the circular rim is a sitting area with fireplace and built-in benches. Glazed roof lets plenty of sunshine in.

MORE: See 60 vintage patio furniture sets that offered outdoor relaxation the old-fashioned way

Gorgeous and huge covered sunken backyard patio seating area with an outdoor fireplace

ALSO SEE: These gorgeous screened-in porch, patio and lanai spaces from years gone by are total backyard goals (1930s-1980s)

10. Vintage backyard decor & patio made of wrought iron (1960)

Elegant outdoor backyard decor from 1960

Vintage backyard ideas: Outside, the living is easy (1964)

The living’s easy for families who are at-home both in and out of doors. Gone for good are the days when people lived their home life within four walls.

Today’s trend calls for total development of a property, and outdoor areas are being put to full use in supplementing indoor living and entertaining space, and as “built-in playground and sports arenas.

In order to make maximum use of your available space, first assess the family needs and functions you wish your outdoor area to fulfill. Consideration should be given to the existing landscaping, sun and wind exposure, and the size and relationship of structure to surroundings.

Add on outdoor “rooms”

If you need more space in your house, why not add on rooms by means of porches, sun decks, terraces or patios. For example, a deck or porch near the kitchen might substitute as a dining room.

Your addition doesn’t necessarily have to be attached to the house. A gazebo, tea house or sun deck in the yard or by the barbecue pit, or pool will provide plenty of space and. all the privacy you need to entertain without disturbing the rest of your household.

ALSO SEE: Vintage above-ground pools like these made swimming & summer water fun affordable

11. Two beautiful matching gazebos in a backyard from 1960

Pretty backyard gazebos from the 1960s

12. Vintage backyard ideas: Quiet courtyard with tile features (1960)

A serene “courtyard by noted architect Paul Rudolph. Look from the living room out on the graceful tile deck, the flanking tile walls, and the tiled sun screens in the background.

The screens (tile set of sheet glass) cut down sun glare and filter light pleasingly into the courtyard.”

Unique arched covered luxurious backyard area from 1960

13. Secluded redwood and brick deck

Wooden deck and staircase make a peaceful and private backyard in 1966

14. Retro backyard deck design ideas (1966)

A series of platforms made of exterior-grade plywood, protected by plastic-based roofing material, set on 2×8 framing.

On top is Ozite’s Town ‘n’ Terrace indoor-outdoor carpeting, which is unaffected by rain, and can easily be vacuum cleaned. (From American Home magazine)

MORE: See inside Bing Crosby’s house from 1950 for some classic celebrity style

Modernist backyard style from 1966

15. Backyard decor with a covered trellis

A calming vintage covered patio with a midcentury modern-style trellis and landscaping, from 1963

Retro 60s covered backyard porch patio

16. Covered deck with water feature in a quiet vintage backyard (1965)

Vintage backyard covered patio inspiration from 1965

DON’T MISS: See 41 vintage backyard decks, plus find out how wood decking became a popular part of American homes

17. Country-club style vintage backyard pool and cabana house in a lush garden (1967)

Summer 1967 - Backyard pool and cabana house

ALSO SEE: Vintage kiddie swimming pools & inflatable backyard wading pools for children

18. Out in the garden, a vintage outdoor living and dining room (1962)

Open room garden outside - Vintage backyard inspiration from 1962

19. A retro outdoor kitchen at poolside, under the tall trees (1967)

Backyard pool area with outdoor kitchen - vintage home style from 1967

MORE: Vintage playhouses & forts: Old-fashioned fun for kids

20. Secluded vintage backyard patio with an amazing view (1969)

1969 - Secluded vintage backyard patio with an amazing view

MORE: What did a typical 1950s suburban house look like? Feast your eyes on this fab prefab home built in 1958

21. A dream patio-terrace (1964)

1964 - A dream patio-terrace

22. Backyard pools with a large covered patio area (1960)

1960 backyard pools with a large covered patio

23. Simple private backyard design (1962)

Simple private backyard design from 1962

24. Flat 1960s patio decking on a MCM desert home

Flat 1960s patio decking on desert home

ALSO SEE: Natural swimming pools for your backyard: How they work, plus 32 gorgeous examples

25. Angled midcentury modern backyard patio and deck (1962)

Angled midcentury modern backyard patio and deck (1962)

26. A classic American trellis and raised lawn design from the 60s

Backyard trellis with fabric covering above an old brick patio (1967)

27: Vintage backyard patio with open trellis and BBQ pit (1960)

Vintage backyard patio with open trellis and BBQ pit (1960

28: Pretty covered patio decking for a retro 60s backyard (1963)

Pretty covered patio decking for a retro 60s backyard (1963)

29: Vintage backyard with trees and decking paths (1960)

Vintage backyard with trees and decking paths (1960)

30. Serene pool & backyard scene in Palm Beach (1969)

Serene and cool, blue water reflects typically lush Palm Beach greenery. Salt and pepper concrete paving divided by pale green moss.

Serene pool and backyard scene in Palm Beach (1969)

31. A simple low wooden patio deck set in a lush mid century modern style backyard (1965)

A simple low wooden patio deck set in a lush mid century modern style backyard

32. Redwood deck with trellis and windows to a beautiful water view (1962)

Redwood deck with trellis and windows to a beautiful water view (1962)

33: Vintage backyard with trees and decking paths (1960)

Desert backyard design with concrete pathway over fountain pool (1961)

34: Peaceful old-fashioned garden backyard design (1966)

Peaceful garden backyard design (1966)

ALSO SEE: 3 fun backyard additions: Mini-barn, outdoor kitchen & play castle (1965)

35. Starburst sun terrace in a 60s backyard (1966)

“On the sun terrace — Eszter Haraszty’s garden chef-d’oeuvre: A sunburst of six brick platforms for lounging radiates from a pretty plot of calendulas, shaded by a poppy-splashed paper parasol.

“Sun-bathers can move with the sun, cushily supported on vinyl mattresses, cosseted by the fragrance of sun-warmed roses and acacia and a spectacular view of the San Fernando Valley. The pool terrace is below.”

Starburst sun terrace in the '60s backyard (1966)

36. Yard with swimming pool and water feature and little bridges (1963)

YOU MIGHT LIKE THIS: Mid-century modern door hardware from the 1950s & 1960s – plus other popular vintage designs

Classic backyard swimming pool design from 1963 (1)

37. Simple classic deck design, complete with a bench railing (late 60s)

Simple classic deck design, complete with a bench railing (late 60s)

38. A Georgetown garden for a spring luncheon (1961)

“Gardens in Georgetown are designed for privacy and as a useful adjunct to the house. This permits the receptions, often for a hundred guests, which are not unusual in this milieu.

“Gardens also server for small luncheons, as shown here. They are almost always planned, as this one is, for easy care and attractiveness year-round.”

A Georgetown garden for a spring luncheon (1961)

39: Minimal midcentury modern backyard covered patio area and pond (1960)

Minimal midcentury modern backyard covered patio area and pond (1960)

40: Round pool in an old-fashioned backyard from 1960

Round pool in an old-fashioned backyard from 1960

41. Inviting backyard with two-tone concrete decking on patio (1968)

Inviting backyard with two-tone concrete decking on patio (1968)

42. Small deck with built-in bench seating

Vintage wooden deck with built-in backyard seating area

43. Wooden tent shade (1960)

Tent of redwood snow fencing, hung like fabric, rises 18 feet on 2-inch pipe posts, with pipe braces at ends. Its shade varies with roof angle.

One reason for the growing popularity of these wood decks is the trend toward building houses on sloping tracts of land. A deck is an easy way of providing a flat surface where there is none naturally. Such a deck can be easily constructed of Western Pine region lumber.

Trellises, sun shades and sun screens lend height and give the garden an added dimension it would otherwise lack, and also serve as framework over which flowers and vines can climb.

In addition to flowers and shrubs, another way of giving individuality to the outdoor living area is by fencing or fence panels. (From Sunset, 1960 – Photo by Ken Molino)

Low deck in a backyard with a wooden hanging screen - Retro landscaping from 1960

44. A posh poolside retreat in Palm Springs, California (1969)

MORE: See the Kennedy family pool house at Hickory Hill, where Bobby’s kids grew up (1970)

A posh poolside retreat in Palm Springs, California (1969)

45. A sheltered porch with fireplace, and small reflecting pool

Modernist backyard pond and decking from 1960

46. A walled garden overflowing with flowers and plants (1962)

A walled garden overflowing with flowers and plants (1962)

47. A yard by the street with pierced concrete blocks (1969)

A street-front yard can become a livable semi-private outdoor area if you plan it right. Here, gravel carpets the courtyard and blends in with the existing garage wall (it makes a U with the house).

Stepping stones are functional, but they have design value. Standard iron fencing establishes a safe play area, and screens of pierced concrete block are strategically-placed to give an illusion of privacy.

A yard by the street with pierced concrete blocks (1969)

MORE: See 125 vintage 60s home plans used to design & build millions of mid-century houses across America

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Comments on this story

2 Responses

  1. In #30 where you suggest the railing isn’t complete, you can see by looking about her knee level, the railing running around the side of the house. The area not enclosed by railing is obviously not for seating, but an area for plants (like the one shown there already).

  2. #6: Men in ties and women in dresses even at a bbq. On one hand, I’m glad those days are over, but on the other hand, I’m sad they’re gone…if that makes any sense. I also imagine some of these backyards were a nightmare to keep up. I was a child in the 60’s and didn’t have to do any of the hard work, thankfully.

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