Homeowners generally put time, money and energy into front landscaping that gives their homes great curb appeal or backyards that allows for entertaining in style. But the side yard is often a forgotten netherworld littered with garbage cans, hose reels, and half-hearted landscaping. There’s untapped potential here, so let’s transform that space from awkward to awesome.
What to do with equipment
Chances are good your air-conditioner’s condenser unit sits in one of your side yards. You can hide your condenser with ornamental shrubbery or a decorative screen made from wood, stone or wrought iron. Be sure to leave enough space between the condenser and the shrubbery or screen to allow for good ventilation. Don’t let shrubs grow into the unit ’s coils.
If trash and recycling bins or outdoor equipment must be stored in your side yard, design a covering that serves its function with style. Sheds crafted from cedar, another wood or stone can handsomely house your equipment while blending in with your home.
Paths that transition
Pavestone paths that traverse the side yard provide a connection between the front and back landscapes. If stone is not your thing, make a path from gravel or crushed granite.
Design the path to harmonize with the lines of your house, or add curves if there is sufficient room. If space allows, place the pavers in unique patterns. Include spaces for statuary, fountains or maybe even a bench on which to sit and contemplate.
The side yard garden trek
The view along a side yard path is important. Plant a flower or herb garden around the path. Use ornamental shrubs or tall flowering plants that make the journey a visual delight. Tall shrubs or trees such as crepe myrtles or oleanders offer long-lasting flowers, and the oleander foliage is dense enough for a privacy screen.
Consider planting a side yard flower garden that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. A side yard between houses can provide important shelter from the wind, which benefits these creatures. Research the local native species of butterflies and hummingbirds and the flowering plants that draw them. Include a decorative pool of water for the creatures’ refreshment.
Remember that not all plants need to be in the ground. Make use of window boxes or large pots aesthetically placed along the pathway.
Trellises and arbors
The sides of a house provide a perfect setting for a trellis on which to plant flowering vines such as Lady Banks roses, clematis, and wisteria. Leave a buffer of space between the trellis and the house so that the vine doesn’t attach itself to masonry or siding, which can damage your walls. Keep the plant trimmed so that it doesn’t touch the house.
Arbors give you the opportunity to extend the beauty of your landscape upward. You can use an elegantly styled arch on its own, or add a climbing vine that will eventually cover the arbor in natural beauty. An arbor can serve as a transition point between the front or backyard and the side yard.
Is there room for seating?
If the side yard is large enough, make it an additional space for relaxing and entertaining. Wrap a patio or deck from the backyard around to the side, giving a second space for more intimate gatherings. Handsome outdoor furniture set on a stone patio or low deck can turn a side yard into a beautiful part of your home rather than an afterthought.