Sumo Gardener

Landscape Design Tips for Making the Most of Side Yards

The side yard is easy to neglect due to its relative size and position. Tucked away beside the home, it is often overshadowed by the backyard and front entrance. Consider some of the following landscape design ideas to transform your side yard into a destination worth visiting and make use of its full potential.

A Private Patio

The side yard is often enclosed on all sides by the home, plants, and walls. This creates its characteristic narrow shape and condemns it to the “out of sight, out of mind” rule. Exploit this privacy, rather than neglecting it, by including a small patio. A side yard patio is perfect for enjoying some alone time with a good book and a cup of coffee. While the backyard is personalized to a certain extent, conforming to a particular aesthetic is prioritized when designing one’s main outdoor living spaces. You can have more fun personalizing your side yard patio because it will be visited less frequently by guests and, instead, serves as your own personal getaway. Most side yards are relatively short on space and can only accommodate enough outdoor furniture for two or three people at a time, creating an intimate space. When you’re ready to exchange the glamor of outdoor entertaining for peace and coziness, retreat to your side yard patio.

A Place to Be Practical

The side yard provides the square feet needed for practical functions that the rest of your property might be too glamorous to accommodate. A side yard can be used to store the tools and building materials for which you simply don’t have the room elsewhere. Consider constructing a small shed in your side yard and hang brightly painted garden tools on its exterior for a characterful pop of color. A side yard, particularly one that is situated near the kitchen, can be used to plant a herb garden or select vegetables that fair well in the light that it provides.


Focusing on the pool, patio, and other landscaping elements that lie close to the ground can leave your landscape design lacking in the vertical dimension. Overzealous hardscaping can also leave a landscape looking too artificial. These common pitfalls can be addressed by adding tall sources of greenery that peek out from behind the home and loom over the landscape to round out the design. A side yard provides space to plants trees and other formidable sources of softening greenery. Large trellises can be covered in flowering climbing plants for a colorful alternative. Bear in mind that trees will shade the rooms adjacent to the side yard, so consider whether the rooms in question require more natural light. Fortunately, in summer, trees can decrease the amount you spend on cooling these rooms.

Much More Than a Path

The narrow layout of the typical side yard makes it the perfect place to install a path. Better yet, use the path to join the front and backyards, enabling the entire body of the property to be navigated and appreciated as one, without moving through the home. This alternative route to access various parts of the property comes in handy when the kids have muddy feet from playing outside. A side yard enables the creation of much more than a path, however, as it provides the room to install plenty of beautiful plants and water features—among other attractions

About the Author Ann Katelyn

I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.

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