4 Small Side Yard Ideas Designed to Impress

small side yard ideasWhen we bought our homestead, there was a little 20 by 80 patch of lawn on the south side of the house. The previous owner had told Wendie and I that the bank made it him put it down before they would refinance him. It looks nice, and when the time comes to mow it we have our electric walk behind, but the lawn is sort of plain. Reminiscent of our front yard on the old urban homestead. So, we started thinking of adjusting it with some small side yard ideas. 

The space gets plenty of good sun, and provides a nice view down to the lake. On the far side against the woods lies my wood shop, and one project this spring will see us expanding that. But for now, we're thinking of small side yard patio ideas and maybe some lessons from our urban gardening days.

Urban Gardening

urban gardening
We became pretty talented back in the city with our urban gardening opportunities. Between heavy shade and starting with poor soil, we were able to educate ourselves in the square foot gardening techniques taught by Mel Bartholomew. Good soil, choosing the right plants, considering our environment and plenty of drainage were keys to our success.

Though we do have better light on the side yard, and our efforts will result in more growth thanks to the off-set tree line, a reverse urban agriculture concept isn't what we have in mind. Instead, we'd like to use that area to put together a collection of small side yard patio ideas, where we can add another sitting area with floral plantings, perfect for a summer day, a mint julep and some foraging bees.

Small Side Yard Patio Ideas

small side yard patio ideasOur idea isn't to create a central focus away from the house, but the small side yard patio ideas we are looking into do incorporate low maintenance perennials and a circular or shaped brick patio inset. I suppose it would be our adult version of the kids' secret garden that will be going in around the same time. Some victorian-inspired planters, good color and a bit of height to bring contrast.

Hardscape thoughts aside, we've put together a list of considerations when working on your own small side yard ideas, whether you're interests lie in urban gardening or urban agriculture.

Small Side Yard Ideas

small side yard ideasSunlight: Determine the amount of sunlight your side yard receives each day. Observe how the sun shines on the different locations throughout the day so you can select appropriate plants for the space.
Remove any overhanging tree limbs and prune overgrown shrubs to increase the amount of sunlight if possible.

Create a Plan: Browse through some small side yards ideas online and create a plan for your space. Browse seed catalogs and visit a local nursery to find plants that are well-suited to the unique environment your side yard offers.

If soil is lacking, create a border with container plants. If privacy is desired, select tall growing bamboo or evergreen privet hedge. There is a multitude of fragrant, flowering vines that will cover a privacy fence and add beauty and fragrance to your side yard.

Lighting will also enhance the beauty of your side yard. Strategically place solar lighting to shine on plants and illuminate the pathway around the side of your home.

Small Side Yard Patio Ideas: Container grown plants are a great decorative starting point for small side yard patio ideas. Use container plants to camouflage unsightly heating and air conditioning units around the patio. Hanging baskets and containers can also offer privacy from neighbors when placed around the perimeter of the patio.

Urban Gardening: A new trend is developing that is putting the un-used side yard to work growing food. Urban agriculture in a small side yard is gaining popularity and helping families to eat better.

Productive in-ground gardens, container gardens and vertical gardens are being planted in side yards. No matter how small a side yard is, it can be used to grow fresh produce. Vertical planters, trellises, shelves and hanging baskets can be used to grow a wide range of fresh food on a small side walkway or side patio.

Small Side Yard Ideas for the Homestead

small side yard ideasThese are some simple ways we will be addressing our project, but thinking outside the traditional garden methods and grow up, out and over with plants that will produce benefits like food, fragrance, privacy and shade. These concepts go hand in hand with our homesteading ideals, so we're excited to show you the results this spring.

As always, we truly enjoy sharing our off the grid homesteading adventures with you all, and love to hear from you. Do you have any unique small side yard ideas to share? Maybe some small side yard patio ideas? Maybe you're into urban gardening, or perhaps urban agriculture? Let us know by joining the conversation below. 

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Nancy W said…
Love your ideas, as a recent transplant to a much more urban setting we will be practicing urban homesteading practices and making god use of small spaces to grow our food!
WT said…
Hi Nancy! Great to connect with you:) Though it had it's challenges, we loved our old urban garden. It was the center piece of our backyard, and when Wendie and I get out of the house to garden it is some of our best times together.

I highly recommend picking up the Square Foot Gardening book that we talk about. It's inexpensive, but very specific for growing good food, and a lot of it, in small spaces with out destroying your soil.

Best wishes, and good luck!