10 Inspiring Ideas for Your Side Yard

Let’s face it: When most homeowners envision the landscaping design of their dreams, they often overlook the side yard. But with a little planning and effort, this neglected space can make just as big a splash as its curb-facing counterpart. Here are some of the most creative and resourceful ways to use that narrow, often awkward space.

  1. Install a Welcoming Entry Gate

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    Rain barrel side yard

    flickr.com via Field Outdoor Spaces

    This side-yard gate is tall enough to provide privacy, yet the warmly colored wood and playful lattice lend a friendly touch. Bonus: A rustic rain barrel adds charm and helps save on water usage.

  2. Add a Stepping-Stone Path

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    Side yard stepping stones

    flickr.com via Brian and Rita Burke

    If your side yard is more like a path to your backyard than it is a space unto itself, embrace its function. Install a stepping-stone path to make this stretch of lawn easier to traverse, and to ease wear and tear on your turf.

  3. Choose Low-Light Plantings

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    Side yard patio

    flickr.com via Thomas Wolff

    Because it's sandwiched between your own house and your neighbor’s, your side yard probably doesn't get a lot of sunlight. Your best bets for lush garden beds in the side yard are plants that do well in low-light or partial shade conditions, like lady ferns or dogwoods.

  4. Think Vertically

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    Garden trellis

    istockphoto.com

    Garden space can be at a premium in most side yards, but you don’t have to limit yourself to filling the garden bed. Instead, install a trellis and plant vines and other varieties that can be trained to climb.

  5. Grow Ground Cover Between Flagstones

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    Sideyard flagstone ground cover

    flickr.com via Patrick Standish

    More memorable than a concrete walkway but lower maintenance than an ordinary patch of lawn, a flagstone path edged with low-lying ground cover is a well-considered choice for the side yard. When selecting a ground cover, look for a variety that will stand up to foot traffic and grow densely enough to block weeds.

  6. Construct a Compost Bin

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    Compost bin for side yard

    istockphoto.com

    Steal a little real estate from your side yard for a compost bin, and your whole garden will reap the rewards, because the nutrients in compost can greatly enhance your soil. Because an out-in-the-open compost pile can be unsightly, buy a container or build your own to keep compost corralled.

  7. Set Up a Potting Table

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    Potting bench side yard

    istockphoto.com

    Put a quiet, shady spot to good use on the side of the house and set up a workstation for potting plants and storing garden tools. You can buy one from any home or garden center or build your own from old pallets or a repurposed dresser.

  8. Build a Trash Enclosure

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    Garbage cover side yard

    istockphoto.com

    Nothing’s more unsightly than large trash and recycling bins, but they’re a necessary evil. Build or buy an attractive wooden enclosure to keep them tidily out of sight in your side yard.

  9. Put in a Putting Green

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    Putting green side yard

    istockphoto.com

    Here’s a no-maintenance way to keep the side yard green year-round: Add a putting green. Because they’re typically long and narrow, side yards serve as the perfect spot for this outdoor activity. Conveniently accessible yet out of the way of the main outdoor living spaces, a putting green is sure to provide hours of entertainment for the whole family.

    Related: 10 Genius Ways to Make Your Backyard a Blast

  10. Look to Your Side

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    10 inspiring ideas for a seldomly side yard

    bobvila.com

    Feel inspired now? Take advantage of this sliver of property for a great landscape on all sides of your house. 

  11. See the House of the Week

    Hotw600x450

    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!