What can I do with a messy, useless side yard? Did I mention ugly?
Side gardens are the skeletons in the closet of landscaping. We seldom discuss them publicly. We take our friends through the house to avoid them, and they never appear in family photos.
But we do pay taxes on them, so why not dress them up so we can take them out?
The challenge is to combine aesthetics and function. A side garden is a natural pathway to the rest of your outdoor rooms. Make it as beautiful as possible. But don't forget to make it work. Moss covered stones are soft and beautiful, but may also be hazardous if it is a path much travelled. Always consider how a space is used, or will be used, before changing it.
If you can see the side garden from an inside room, consider a raised planter. It will bring the view closer to eye level. Consider arbours and trellises to add a vista and privacy, where there was none before. But also remember, an arbour could block light coming into your house. Consider positive and negative consequences before making decisions. Add the appropriate plants for the setting, as an artist adds colours in just the right places.
Water makes any space come alive. If your side garden is too narrow for a pond, build one at the end of your hallway where it is visible from other rooms too. Use moving water. It will make an attractive entry into the rest of the garden, and will help mask unwanted neighbourhood sounds.
Function can become the heart of some side gardens. It is a perfect place to snuggle in tool sheds and storage spaces. Build them like indoor closets, with folding, or sliding doors. They will take up less space and create more useable storage area inside.
What about a hot tub? If you want to avoid your neighbour's watchful eyes in the back of your home, slip the hot tub along the side.
That little pathway may become your favourite place.