When people speak about sprucing up their outdoor living space, they usually mean the back yard. The side yards are reserved for the means of getting from the front of the home to the back and hiding the air handler, propane tank, and other outdoor things you don’t really know where to store. But side yards have so much more potential than that. This often-overlooked area can easily look as awesome as a well-planned back yard.
While walkways are most often found in side yards, they shouldn’t be an afterthought on the way to the back yard. Instead, they should be something that brings a smile to your face as you pass through. A well-designed walkway can minimize maintenance (no more mowing grass) and enhance enjoyment for porches and rooms with views of the side yard.
Blue hydrangeas, greenery, stone, and a pretty water feature set a pleasant tone in this project completed by TMD Landscape Designs in the Birmingham, AL, area. The stone was carefully chosen to blend with the home, and a wood gate and fence provide privacy. Notice that it also sits beside a screened porch, so anyone resting inside can enjoy the relaxing sounds of the water fountain.
Depending on the placement of your home, you may have a side yard with a bit of open ground bordered by walls and/or fencing. Don’t let this space go neglected! It could be the perfect opportunity to create an outdoor retreat with cozy seating, hanging planters, outdoor board games, and a pergola.
The folks at Fair Studio in Redondo Beach, CA, created an excellent example of this. Their side yard project had a raised deck with a wall, gas firepit, three large planters, an L-shaped built-in seat, and, yes, swings! What a fun and relaxing space.
Space-Saving Hot Tub, Spa, or Pool
Depending on your state and county building code, you may be able to install a hot tub, spa, or small swimming pool in your side yard. Hot tubs don’t usually carry many restrictions because they sit above ground. However, there are limitations placed on inground pools and spas that determine how close they can be to the home and lot lines. In coastal North Carolina, where we are very close to sea level, anything that obstructs the flow of water runoff and encourages pooling water is a major concern, because it can lead to flooding that will damage neighboring buildings. But a swimming pool or spa in your side yard is not impossible. It depends on your location, the size and layout of your lot, and the pool or spa design.
Cocktail pools, plunge pools, and small lap pools are common choices for side yards. Ocean Blue Pools & Spas here in Wilmington, NC, have installed a variety of swimming pools, including small ones like this, which would be excellent in a side yard.
Fun Play Area
Side yards are a great area for kids. Sure, back yards can offer places to run and kick balls, but side yards have plenty of room for fun play centers, like an acrylic paint stand, tire balance beam, race track, large chalkboard, or sand box. It’s even a great location for adult or family games, like shuffleboard, bocce ball, and cornhole.
Style Curator created this awesome play area that has a few examples of what could go in a side yard for kids, including a narrow playhouse, sand box, mud kitchen, water play table, chalkboard, and steering wheel.
Have you given your side yard an upgrade? Share it in the comments!