The Sims 4 Building Tutorials:

Outdoor Decorating and Landscaping

by Norma Blackburn

Sims 4 Building How-To's: the extras can make a house look amazing from the outside

Any building will look much better if we add some detail to the yard. Gardens, water features, pools, even just some fencing. It's the added bits and pieces that will have heads turning.

Trees and Plants

A few plants and flowers around a yard can go a long way to improving the overall look. You don't have to build a formal garden, just some shrubs and flowers here and there or maybe a tree or two. Use the moveobjects cheat to group plants together in a more realistic fashion. Use the showhiddenobjects cheat and you could even add a fishing pond to the back yard!

Sims 4 Building How-To's: the moveobjects cheat
Click to Enlarge. Use the moveobjects cheat to group flowers and shrubs for a more realistic look

Terrain Paints

Using terrain paints can add a little realism to your build. Take a look around your neighbourhood and you will notice that not many yards have completely consistent coloring. Try adding a light dusting of dirt around the base of your house and heavier dirt under flowers and shrubs. Using a soft brush, gently put random spots of different shades of paint or some flower paint around the yard.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: terrain paints to make a yard look better
Click to Enlarge. Use terrain paints to add different looks to the yard


Fences can provide privacy or just define an area of your yard. They are also used instead of walls to enclose decks and porches.

Placing Fences
When we place a fence, we can draw them out as we do a wall or pull them out in a square or rectangle to make a complete enclosure. We also have the option to replace an already existing fence.

Use the drawing tool to build a new section of fence where none exists. You can also use the drawing tool to replace part of a wall with some fencing. It's possible also, to replace a whole room with fencing by using the fence enclosure tool.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: making fences instead of walls
Click to Enlarge. Using the fence enclosure tool, you can replace the walls of a whole room with fencing

If you want to replace a whole section of fence or wall with a different fence type, select the new fence and using the replace fence tool, mouse over the wall or fence you want to replace. The new choice will be displayed and the change will be implemented once you click on the preview.


Gates are added after the fence is built and placed over an existing piece of fence.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: using gates
Click to Enlarge. Place a gate over a section of fencing and click to place

Note that not all gates can be placed on every style of fence and some fences have one or two gates that can be used. If you try to place a gate on an unsuitable fence, you could get a message to say it needs to go on a lower or taller fence. This information can actually be misleading. Take for example the High Floral Hedgerow fence, certain gates cannot be placed on it and give the message that the gate must be placed on a lower fence, yet the same gate can be placed on the Privacy Hedge with Flowers even though, that fence is higher, not lower, than the High Floral Hedgerow! The best practice is to just experiment with different combinations of fences and gates. Of course if you really want a certain combination that just won't work, you can always use the moveobjects cheat. Delete one or two panels of fence depending on the width of the gate. Then place the gate with the cheat activated.

Advanced Fencing

If your house has a foundation and you want the fence to join onto the house, you must start the fence at a point away from the house and build toward it. If you begin the fence at the house, it will be considered part of the house and the fence will be built on a foundation also.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: fences can have foundations
Click to Enlarge. A fence that starts at a building with a foundation, will also have a foundation

This feature can be used to your advantage though if you want a high privacy fence. Build a small 1 x 1 room at the corners of where you want a fence. Select a fence type and start building the fence between these rooms.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: build a higher fence between two rooms
Click to Enlarge. Build a higher fence between two rooms on a foundation

When the fence is complete, remove the last two full walls and the floor from the corner rooms. What was a large pillar like structure will change to a regular fence corner.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: remove a large corner section, use it as a plinth for a statue
Click to Enlarge. Remove the large corner section or use it as a plinth for a statue!

To add a gate into the new higher fence, delete a section or two of the fence depending on the size of the gate. Use the moveobjects cheat to place your gate.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: higher fences
Click to Enlarge. Use the moveobjects cheat to place a gate in the new higher fence

Make a splash by adding some water to your next build with a pool, fountain or water feature.


Fountains are made by using shallow pools and adding water emitters and decorations. Like pools, add different shaped fountains together to make larger shapes. Alternately, use the custom fountain tool to draw out any shape fountain you want.

Different emitters squirt water in different ways, so play around with the various components to see what they do. Note that you may need to view them in Live mode to see just what they do.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: fountains tutorial
Click to Enlarge. Different water emitters do different things

Decorations for fountains include sculpture type pieces as well as decals for the floor of the fountain and raised trims around the outline of the fountain.

Although the water emitters can normally only be placed in a fountain or pool, with use of the moveobjectcheat and different sculptures and décor items, a range of unique water features can be built to add that finishing touch to any build.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: combining objects with moveobjects can lead to interesting effects
Click to Enlarge. Unique water features can be made by combining objects with the moveobjects cheat


Pools are simple enough, just select the shape you want and place where you want. Once placed, you can highlight the pool and grab walls to move them in and out to reshape and resize as you would a room. You can also add any number of pool shapes next to each other or overlapping to create different shapes. The custom pool tool works the same way as the custom room tool, just drag out the shape you want.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: combine pool shapes to make unique pools
Click to Enlarge. Combine pool shapes or use the custom pool tool to make unusual pools

Being able to place pools on different levels opens up all manner of design possibilities. We can build rooms right next to a pool and add windows between the two or defy gravity by building a floating pool above ground!

Sims 4 Building How-To's: lights and pool decorations
Click to Enlarge. Pools can be built almost anywhere

Don't forget to finish off your pool with lights and pool decorations.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: add lights so Sims can see when they swim at night
Click to Enlarge. Add lights so Sims can swim at night

There are a few restrictions as to where you can build a pool. They can be built on any level above ground and also on the first basement level. They cannot be built on the lower basement level, nor can they be built on the level directly under (or above) an existing pool. Pools can be built on foundations, but not if there is a basement directly under the pool. Walls cannot be built over pools on the same level.

Indoor Outdoor Pools

Although we normally cannot build a wall over a pool, by using the moveobjects cheat, we can build an indoor/outdoor pool.

Start by building the room for the inside pool. Then build the pool so that it touches at least one wall. The pool can touch as much of the wall as you like, but the channel to the outside pool can only be one or two wall pieces wide.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: making an indoor-outdoor pool
Click to Enlarge. Build an indoor pool up against a wall

Activate the moveobjects cheat and place two windows over what will be the pool to the outside. Hold the ALT key while placing them and move them up as high as you can on the wall. If you don't, there will be a gap between the windows and the ceiling. Delete the two sections of wall over the pool. It's important to note here that the windows need to still be attached to a wall, so adding a single 2 space window above the pool and deleting both walls will not work.

At this point, with the cheat still turned on, I like to add a small window on either side of the opening. The cheat will allow the placement, however, the window will not be see through, but I think the frame is a little better looking than the plain wall. If after placing the small window, it is the one with glass, just pick up the larger window and place it again. You can now turn the cheat off.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: step by step for indoor/outdoor pool
Click to Enlarge. Add windows and then delete the wall

Extend the pool outside and you now have an indoor outdoor pool that your Sims will be able to swim the length of.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: Sims can then swim under the window, into the house
Click to Enlarge. Sims will be able to swim under the window

Other Building Guides

Sims 4 House Building
Building Cheats
Counters and Islands
Decorating Inside Homes
Decorating Outside/Landscaping
Island Living (Stilt Foundation, Glass Floors)
Split Levels and Lofts
Stairs and Basements
Terrain Tools

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1 2 > Last
hello? i am new to the sims 4, my question is: are pool, basement and half walls include in the base game? because i didn't find it in my base game Sad
is there any help?
When the game is patched to the latest version, those things should be in the game.
31st July 2015 4:21am
This page has a list showing where all the things are:

Half walls are under the walls and empty rooms section, it's on a tab along the side. :)
23rd August 2015 8:57pm
Oh I am SO off to do that indoor/outdoor pool!
And will also take the opportunity to say that I adore these tutorials. All of them are so fun, easy to read and apply in just a few moments! If anyone asks me for S4 tips, I'm sending them right here Smile
22nd August 2015 8:54pm
Georgia Franey
I can't seem to find the garden hedge arch ANYWHERE. Can someone please help me to find it? Thanks
23rd August 2015 9:38pm
hedge? if you mean the arch its in gates!
24th August 2015 7:56pm
Is your game up to date? if it is, you can find 4 different hedges in the fence section

24th August 2015 10:40pm
oops, didn't see yu were after the arch. As Melissa said, it's in the gate section.
6th September 2015 9:06pm
I'm trying to build a privacy fence, but it won't let me unless I build a regular wall first, then replace it. That's too much work, is that the only way to build a fence?
25th December 2015 11:18pm
When you enter the fence section, the default setting is to replace fences or walls. You need to select the top option (just to the left of the fence catalogue) that says 'Place fences by drawing' Using that, you should be then able to just draw out where you want the fence.
1st January 2016 9:31pm
Also, when drawing a fence, start drawing from the edge of the lot towards the house instead of from the house. If you go from the house, it tries to build it as a wall. If you start away from the house, it will connect to the house like a fence should.
2nd January 2016 8:18am
How do I place gardens from the gallery? Every time I try to add a user created garden, they automatically have foundations, which I absolutely HATE. How do I work around this to place them on ground level?
18th August 2016 7:34pm
The gardens you are downloading will have been saved as 'rooms'. So once you download them drag the plants out of the room and then delete it. Now you have the plants to do what you want with them.

If you want them in the original room then the only way to get rid of the foundation is to remove the foundation of your house too, as all rooms/buildings on a sims 4 lot will have the same foundation height.
20th August 2016 1:01am
Thank you for your reply. :)
20th August 2016 6:21pm
20th August 2016 7:16pm
Hi Carl, so, I built this house with the main level as a pond/fountain zone, steps leading up to the front door on the second floor, the house sorta looks like a tree house, anyhow, I built some water features in the pond which I thought were cool (waterfall under the house), when I saved it, I moved a sim in to check out if things were working, the waterfall feature I built was present, I went back to main world and evicted the sim, I went back into the lot I was working on and the waterfall feature I had built was gone.
Please help.
16th February 2017 4:34pm
This often happens if you have used the Move Objects cheat during building. If that is the case turn on the MOO cheat before downloading and the build should download intact.
16th February 2017 4:51pm
I have seen many YouTubers place multiple plants, hedges, etc at the same time. It is almost like they are able to "draw" a line of them very quickly. It appears they are not clicking to place each plant, they are holding the mouse button down and "drawing" with the plants. Any idea how to do this? Thank you!!
18th February 2017 3:53pm
There are fences that are hedges. Maybe they are using those fence types?
21st February 2017 7:57pm
Justine Powell
In my Sims I don't get half the stuff I see on here
10th July 2017 12:55pm
Really? As this is all Base Game stuff. Just try looking for it under the various tabs in build/buy mode.
14th July 2017 7:28pm
Justine Powell
Idk if it's because I don't have the mod. Irdk
14th July 2017 7:35pm
There are no mods being used here! Just the Base Game items. That is why we only use Base Game items as everyone who has the game will have these items. Smile
16th July 2017 8:48pm
Do I need to update my sims in order to get the pool?
14th December 2017 3:17am
Ummm, yeah. Pools were added in a free patch way back in late 2014
14th December 2017 3:54pm
Niz Abdallah
Sad I have just watched @TheSimSupply's Lake House build on YouTube. I am just wondering how on Earth was he able to build something over a fountain??? Can anyone please help me?
16th January 2018 7:54am
1 2 > Last
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