Side Yard Design

Our side yard is probably the most ignored space in our landscape. This ‘no man’s land’ often becomes the collection ground for garden tools, garbage cans and is the weedy causeway only traversed when taking the trash out to the curb or mowing the lawn.

Have you ever thought about turning that space into something attractive and purposeful? Here are some ideas to fuel your imagination and get you started:

  • Plants – Turn this space into a delightful mini garden with texture-rich plants. Because many side yards receive copious shade, ferns, ground covers and other shade lovers would work well. If you need more privacy, choose plants or hardware with a linear form – like clumping bamboo or cattle panel with vines – and use them to shelter the area from neighbors or passersby.
  • Purpose – Give your side yard a purpose (besides trash can storage). Could it be a small vegetable garden with leafy greens that will tolerate shade? Could it be a cozy outdoor living area with sleek pavers, a string of white lights and a comfy chair or two? These narrow spaces could even be converted into something useful like a dog run with artificial turf or a handsome rainwater collection center with attractive rain chains, whiskey barrels and an easy-to-maneuver hardscape pathway.
  • Plan well – Should you decide to initiate a side yard makeover, take plenty of time to think out your design. If it is to become a living area, is it easy to navigate? Perhaps you just want to nix mowing those narrow spaces – will you use river rock, crushed granite or simple mulch beds to get rid of the grass and weeds?

And how will your design hold up in rain? Make sure there’s adequate drainage for run off!

To grab some visual encouragement, check out GardenStyleSA’s “Side Yards” Pinterest board. You may also want to take a look at some of the landscapes in the 2014 WaterSaver tour – we know at least three of them have gorgeous side yards!

Picture of Erin Conant
Erin Conant
Erin Conant has a passion for all things related to plants. Our former SAWS conservation consultant is now at home with her family passionately establishing their own urban farm and spreading the word of water conservation.
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