So, What’s in Yer Side Yard?

If you’re like most folks, the “design” of your side yard includes trash cans, recycling containers, storage shed, A/C compressor, wheelbarrow that didn’t fit in the shed, pile of leftover landscaping stones (leftover because, well, math) and an assortment of invasive weeds.

Just me? Ok, fine.

But in these years of smaller and smaller lots, making a lot out of a little will help your property outshine its competition when time comes to sell. Possibly more importantly, it makes sense to get the most out of your property and actually enjoy and use your side yard can be part of that.

Limitations to the side yard include narrowness and often, too much shade, which can narrow landscaping options.

On a positive note, there are hundreds of great ideas for making your side yard a main event.

A beautiful side yard

Let’s start with a kid-friendly plan – a side yard fully devoted to childhood but devoid of the garish plastic that comes from Playschool.

Elements could include a chalk board affixed to the fence at child level, square stepping stones in a hopscotch design, wood framed sandbox with deck-framed cover. When the sandbox is not in use, the mini deck is a great place for mini cafe perfect for an impromptu tea party.

As the kids grow up, the side yard can be dedicated to more grown-up pursuits.

Like peace and quiet.

A side yard can be a great getaway – think of it: No one will look for you there!

Privacy is the key to a side yard retreat – an evergreen vine insulates the “room”; a trellis to extend the vine in a suggested rooftop creates a nook that can house a decked platform upon which to stage a settee, an outdoor easy chair, and a firepit table (you can make one yourself using a nesting mixing bowls, concrete mix, gel fireplace fuel, replacement grill grate and rocks (see for instructions. Or, get a head start using a pre-existing concrete bowl.

Or, think productivity…

Plenty of gardeners feel a sense of conflict, drawn to the beauty of flowers and landscape but wanting the utility and the joy of harvesting something they grew with their own hands. A side yard is a great place to build your yearly vegetable garden while maintaining your yard design as is – a collection of raised beds for herbs, and tomatoes, or what about a picking garden (flowers for arrangements). All of these require a full-sun area, so some side yards might not oblige. For more sun, consider replacing your solid wooden fence with an open wire weave type.

Raised beds don’t have to be cedar or even wood. For a sleeker look, consider galvanized tanks available at Wilco and other farm stores. Easiest: pre-fab cedar raised beds. Best reason for your vegetable garden to be in the side yard: easy delivery for dirt and compost delivery. Because the beds are close to the house, ensure that drainage for irrigated beds slopes away from the foundation.

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