How to Design a Side-Yard Garden

If you’re short on space outside but want to expand your garden, you might want to have a look around the corner. The corner of your house, that is! Many homes have space beside their driveways or long and narrow passageways along which you can walk from front to back, but it’s time for a fresh perspective. Don’t overlook this valuable real estate – it’s a great way to add to your lush landscape! Here are some tips for designing a side-yard garden.

Carve out a new flowerbed
If your potential side-yard garden currently sports a great expanse of asphalt or gravel, consider grouping different containers to create a potted paradise! Or, build some raised garden beds with two 2x8x10’s and some wood screws. Raised beds are not only versatile, but are also easier to maintain if you have back or knee problems.

Feeling ambitious? Rip up a three-foot-deep hunk of the paved area or gravel patch, and add soil and compost for your new flowerbed. Have a few sad strips of sparse grass or hard clay earth? No need to dig it all out; try the lasagna gardening method and put down alternating layers of cardboard, newspaper, mulch and soil, and you’ll soon be ready to plant.

Make it a patio
Your side-yard can do double-duty as an intimate patio if you put pavers along the path, and a pagoda overhead. Add a few comfy chairs and it’s the perfect spot for morning coffee or evening cocktails.

Choose the right plants
Figure out how much light you’ll get in that space. If your side-yard garden will be getting precious few sun rays thanks to being sandwiched between two houses, choose plants that will thrive in part-sun or full-shade, such as ferns, hostas, and Lady’s Mantle.
Succulent gardens add lots of texture and are virtually maintenance-free.
Have lots of sun? How about putting in an herb or veggie garden? Some space-saving varieties include cucumbers, beans or squash.

Have windows? Make them part of the design!
If windows dot the side of your home, install window boxes and plant cascading varieties or flowers or ivy, or mount potted bunches of blooms to the windowsill to take advantage of the vertical space.

Define your new garden with attractive edging
There are so many options for edging: consider mini-fences, large rocks or upcycled materials (add links) that add to your new focal point. If your side-yard garden has a fence behind it, spruce up the area with shelves, mirrors, art or twinkle lights. Get creative!

Link your front and back gardens
If your new side-yard garden will be the path between your front and backyard oasis, put up a wrought-iron arbor or decorative gate. You can train climbing vines to cover this transitional element with blossoms that will invite your guests to explore your new side-yard garden.

Show us what you’ve done with your side-yard gardens!


Side-yard garden with purple and red flowers: Photo Credit: mikecogh Flickr via Compfight cc

Pathway: Photo Credit: patrick_standish Flickr via Compfight cc

White house with side garden: Photo Credit: mikecogh Flickr via Compfight cc

Potted trees in alley: Courtesy of

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