Maximize Your Side Yard: 25 Creative Ideas to Make the Most of Unused Space


Side yards are an often-overlooked parcel of land. Long and narrow, it’s sometimes difficult to know what to make of this lot. However, ignoring your side yard creates a missed opportunity. Not only is this portion of your yard often viewable from your interior windows, but it’s also a functional walkway that you and garden party guests alike traverse. We’ve put together this collection of our favorite side yard ideas to prove that no matter their size, they are full of potential.

  • 01of 25


    Chicken Coop Corner

    chicken coop in side yard

    Assigning a purpose to your side yard can help you make the most use out of this space. Deanna Talerico of Homestead and Chill put her side yard to work by building a chicken coop. The decorative signs and flower boxes give the chicken abode a homey feel.

  • 02of 25


    Illuminated Side Yard

    side yard with cacti

    Similar to a hallway in your house, side yards are often functional pathways that direct you from your front yard to your backyard. Consider installing lighting such as solar-powered sconces so you can see where you’re going at night.

  • 03of 25


    String Lights

    patio furniture in side yard
     Another lighting option for your side yard is string lights. After all, they create extra cozy mood lighting. This especially works well if you have a tall fence to attach them to.
  • 04of 25


    Gravel and Pavers

    pavers in side yard

    Since a side yard tends to get a lot of foot traffic and little sunlight, grass doesn’t always grow well in this spot. Pea gravel paired with stepping stones is a beautiful solution to this woe.

  • 05of 25


    Artificial Grass Side Yard

    turf side yard

    Another solution to a side yard that receives poor sunlight is to install artificial grass. This is also a good option if you live in a drought-prone region. With proper maintenance, artificial grass can last for several decades.

  • 06of 25


    Turf and Stones

    Turf and river rocks

    If you want to add a low-maintenance decorative touch to a turfed side yard, river rocks are a great option. Create a bed of them running along your fence.

  • 07of 25


    Bocce Ball Court

    bocce ball side yard

    A long and narrow side yard is the perfect layout for a DIY bocce ball court. Just make sure your side yard gets good drainage before committing to this feature. You can also line the sides of the court with bushes to act as a cushion for any stray balls.

  • 08of 25


    Putt-Putt Course

    Mini golf side yard

    A putt-putt course is also another option for turning your side yard into a hub for backyard games. Adding in a few little obstacles can make it a bit more challenging, similar to a mini-golf course.

  • 09of 25


    Lined Path

    large side yard
     The more spacious the side yard, the more landscaping plants you can fit. This is an especially ideal option for side yards that do not have a nearby structure blocking light. Lining both sides of a side yard path creates a serene sense of balance.
  • 10of 25


    Water Fountain Courtyard

    side yard with fountain

    One way to think of a side yard is as a mini courtyard. Decorating your courtyard with features such as a fountain will help you channel a regal look.

  • 11of 25


    Hidden Air Conditioner Condenser

    side yard path / Instagram

    A side yard is commonly home to your air conditioner condenser. You can hide this unsightly but useful piece of HVAC equipment with landscaping plants. Just be sure to leave enough clearance on all four sides of the condenser to prevent clogged coils.

  • 12of 25


    Raised Garden Beds

    side yard with raised beds

    The main portion of your backyard isn’t the only spot where a garden will thrive. Add a few raised garden beds, and you can grow not just ornamental flowers but also vegetables.

  • 13of 25


    Decorative Fencing

    Side yard with plants
    @fredricksonlandscapeinc / Instagram

    One way to liven up a side yard is by investing in new fencing. For extra narrow spaces, consider metal fencing, which will create the illusion of additional space.

  • 14of 25


    Front Yard Path

    arbor in side yard
    @parkview_landscaping / Instagram

    You can freshen up your home’s curb appeal by creating a grand front entrance to your side yard. For example, arbors with vining plants paired with a gravel path are two lovely features that you can see from the street.

  • 15of 25


    Patio With Seating

    side yard with seating
    @despina_design / Instagram

    A patio doesn’t have to be located directly behind your house. A side yard is a cozy, enclosed area that’s ideal for relaxing and having intimate conversations. Just add some comfy patio furniture, and you’ll be sure to get a ton of use out of this space.

  • 16of 25


    A Door as a Gate

    door in side yard
    @tmdlandscapedesigns / Instagram

    A short garden gate can make a lovely entrance to your backyard via your side yard. However, a walled structure with a door installed will create more security and privacy. You can make it an interesting architectural feature by opting for an arched door.

  • 17of 25


    Contrasting Material Colors

    stone path
    @edencondensed / Instagram

    When choosing the materials for your side yard path, don’t be afraid to experiment with contrasting hues. For example, dark gravel paired with light pavers will create a little visual interest.

  • 18of 25


    Architecturally Appropriate Gate

    gate in side yard

    When choosing materials for your side yard gate, think about how it will look next to your house. For example, if your home is midcentury modern style, building a matching gate and fence will help you achieve a cohesive look.

  • 19of 25


    Tall Landscaping Plants

    cacti side yard
    @crazy4cactus / Instagram

    When landscaping your side yard, don’t limit yourself to just short shrubs. Taller plants, such as certain types of cacti, will draw your eyes upward and create a nice pop of green against a wood fence.

  • 20of 25


    Grilling Area

    side yard with grill
    @core_homes / Instagram

    The side of your home makes for a clever spot to hide your grill. However, you can take this to the next level by building an outdoor bar and seating area surrounding your grill. This will help fill the space if you’re working with a larger footprint.

  • 21of 25


    Picnic Area

    picnic table in side yard

    Start dining al fresco more and add a picnic table to your side yard. Position it vertically, and you should still have enough space to walk around it. For extra petite side yards, you may need to order a custom size.

  • 22of 25


    Curved Lines

    curved path
    heatherhereshegrows / Instagram

    Break up the basic straight lines of a side yard with your garden path and flower beds. A curved shape will create a whimsical scene fit for the setting of a storybook.

  • 23of 25


    Colorful Blooms

    garden beds in side yard
    @thebackyardfarmco / Instagram

    If you’re filling your side yard with plants, think beyond basic greenery. Some blooming plants actually thrive in partial shade, making a side yard a protective place for them to grow.

  • 24of 25


    Lawn Ornaments

    Garden path on side yard
    @pamdigging / Instagram

    One way to add some personality to your side yard is via outdoor art. Create a sculpture trail by adding unique plant pedestals and pots as well as sculptures and glass lawn ornaments.

  • 25of 25


    Arbor Over Gate

    garden path with arbor
    @fishtailcottage / Instagram

    Rather than installing a stand-alone arbor in your side yard, you can add one to your existing gate. Simply match the materials, and it will look as if it’s always been there

Source: thespruce