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9 side yard ideas that will brighten up unused space

9 side yard ideas that will brighten up unused space

These side yard ideas will help you transform this often dead outdoor space into a fully functional and beautiful area for all to enjoy. Side yards are inherently tricky spaces. Often narrow and somewhat dark, they can end up being neglected or even completely unused. When actually if you get clever with how you design and arrange the space you do have, you could consider squeezing in patio furniture or even your best grill… 

So in the same way that clever backyard ideas can transform even a tiny space, good side yard ideas can add a lot of interest and extra room for relaxing, socializing, or even growing produce in. Let’s explore the options.

1. Side yard in the shade? Plant shade-tolerant plants

A suburban side yard with gravel and shade planting

(Image credit: Visionscapes NW Landscape Design)

Many side yards have a difficult aspect, either in part or full shade. If this is true of yours, it doesn’t have to mean a side yard without plants. Choose shade plants that will thrive in low light. Ferns, hostas, and acers are just several examples of plants you can grow in a shady side yard, as demonstrated in this beautiful example designed by Visionscapes NW Landscape Design (opens in new tab)

2. Create a low-maintenance design

A narrow side yard with contemporary fencing and minimalist planting

(Image credit: Nate Grant / GSW Architects)

If you aren’t planning on actually using your side yard much and just want it to look nice, or if your side yard is difficult to access and you want to not have to do much to it, consider a simpler design with low-maintenance plants, gravel, and a contemporary garden screening idea.