The side yard is that overlooked, forgotten space connecting the front yard with the backyard. It might not be your typical ‘yard’: it could be a barren narrow pathway between your home and your neighbour’s, or it could be an overgrown bowling alley where retired gardening equipment resides. Either way, besides being a means to an end, the side yard is worthy of being as enticing and useful as other yard spaces.
1. Pathway Design
Many side yards don’t have much room to play with, but you can draw the eye along the length of it with an interesting pathway. And a clearly marked path helps prevent getting lost in the wilds of the side yard.
Pathway materials could include crunchy crushed stone, polished river rock, stately brick, expansive concrete pavers, or natural flagstone. Edge your path with a contrasting colour (we love the look of brick-shaped pavers) or plant beds.
If you have the room, consider the shape your pathway will take. A meandering flagstone path with landscaping makes for a more inviting wander—and prevents the side yard from feeling like a runway or a dog run.
Not only does a gate keep small members of the family from wandering off, it adds privacy and a sense of drama. Your gate could be placed at the front of the side yard or the back—it depends on the level of mystery that you’d like.
The options are endless for gate design. Consider the style of your home and garden, and how much privacy or security that you require.
3. Lots of Greenery
The most enticing side yards are the ones that are landscaped. Emphasize the shape of the path by adding mass plantings of the same plant in groupings.
In a more traditional home you might line the path with boxwood, shaped into topiary balls or short hedges, while a more modern home might suit minimalist grasses or bamboo.
Make use of this bonus growing space – if you have enough sunlight – by adding planters, veggie boxes, or vertical gardens. Even if your side yard is devoid of direct sunlight, you can create a lush shade garden. If it’s privacy from prying neighbours that you’re after, incorporate a tall-growing hedge or bamboo.
4. Light the Way
Sideyards shouldn’t be scary to walk through at night. Landscape lighting makes it a safe and inviting journey after dark. Overhead lighting such as string lights and wall lights create a warmer glow.
5. Living Space
If you have limited outdoor living space, put the side yard to work and make it a destination. Create flooring from pavers or decking, jazz it up with outdoor furniture, and you have a new escape. Add plants to create a secluded garden sanctuary.
Place a striking feature along or at the end of your pathway, such as a pergola, large pavers, or trellis, that adds architectural interest to your garden.
6. Disguise Utilities
If it’s the unsightly utilities that are helping you pretend that your side yard doesn’t exist, get to work and disguise them! There are plenty of projects on Pinterest that show you how to creatively hide eyesores like garbage and recycling bins, A/C unit, sprinkler systems, and more.