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Create a Side Yard Oasis

Our listing at 5515 Roland Avenue has an expansive front lawn and a gated side entrance to a private bluestone patio bordered by stone walls and garage. With no back yard to speak of, but a large level side yard, we decided to explore options for making the most of this outdoor space.

Expanding Outdoor Living Space

Whether you want a private retreat or an intimate gathering space for guests, a small patio area placed in a side yard is a great way to expand your usable outdoor living space. Depending on the location of your main backyard entertaining area, you may even be able to extend your patio around the side of your house and make your side yard part of your primary outdoor living area.

This may also be the perfect spot for your barbecue grill or outdoor kitchen, or fireplace which will leave more room for seating and mingling on your main patio.

Keeping it Private

From monolithic hedges to mixed rows of canopy trees, there are many approaches you can take to block incoming views. For narrow spaces, a row of slender, upright shrubs does the trick. Space them to allow a bit of growing room. You can get away with buying fewer plants when you opt for leafier, broader species.

For those with more space, small canopy trees can be wonderful for privacy. Taller trees can also block views from neighboring upper-story windows. Plant trees at a distance where canopies will just overlap throughout the zone requiring privacy and layer in low- to mid-height planting below and between to create a layered planting composition.

Connecting Front and Back

  Photo from Luxury Landscaping Company in Wisconsin

Side yards are more than just a link from front yard to back. For smaller lots, this narrow strip is vital outdoor space that must be included in the overall design. Large lot side yards are a great opportunity to add diversity to the landscape.

Add a curving path from the front yard to back bordered by garden beds. Using the same materials as existing patios or walls allows for a cohesive design across all of the landscaping. In the case of our Roland Park home, the stone exterior and existing stone walls provide the perfect starting point. Connecting the back bluestone patio to another patio or outdoor fireplace in the side yard, along with landscaping, outdoor lighting can create a lovely outdoor oasis.

Play Area

Make use of a side yard as a game area where family and friends can enjoy bocce, outdoor bowling, shuffleboard, lawn darts, horseshoes, croquet, and other games suited for a lawn. Play areas including jungle gyms for the kids are perfect for side yards too.

For more landscaping ideas read “8 Landscaping Ideas Worth Borrowing” by horticulturist George Weigel, and "How to Turn a Side Yard into an Outdoor Retreat" by Sarah Vincelette.

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