For her small backyard, Californian Whitney Leigh Morris eschewed grass entirely, and filled the space with pavers and plantings. Lights strung above, and a tree growing by the fence, draw the eye up. See the full tour on Style Me Pretty.
A small balcony has been converted into an oasis by adding lots of plants in wooden containers, ceramic pots, railing planters, etc. There is still enough place for the family to sit outside and spend time alone or with each other.