Ojai’s favorable climate allows residents to enjoy outdoor living in every season, which we have all been taking advantage of even more over the last few years. This has led to a trend towards improving outdoor living areas and maximizing space to get the most out of our backyards. If you have done all you can to expand your patio, repurpose your lawn area, and take advantage of every inch of your backyard but still have more you would like to add or upgrade, it might be time to take a look at those long, narrow side yards on either side of your house.
Side yards are often considered too small to use for much more than storing waste bins or yard tools, but, with a little inspiration, you can transform one or both of your side yards into usable space to serve you or your family better.
Here are seven ways to make your side yards more functional and maximize your home’s outdoor space.
Toy Storage – Pool toys, dog toys, backyard games, and children's toys all need to be stored somewhere when not in use. Adding some outdoor shelving units or deck boxes to your side yard is an easy, affordable way to create out-of-the-way storage for items frequently used in your backyard. This will clean up your pool area, patio, or wherever you are currently storing them and allow that space to be put to better use.
Horseshoe Pit – If your side yard is long enough for a horseshoe pit, this is a great spot to tuck one away, since this type of backyard feature is usually used only infrequently during social gatherings. This way, you have a permanent horseshoe pit that is always ready for action but is not taking up valuable space in your main outdoor living areas.
Bocce Court – Most side yards are not large enough to accommodate a 90-foot-long and 13-foot-wide regulation bocce court or even the 60 feet by 12 feet recommended for backyard options, but you can go as small as 20 feet by six feet and still have a functional court.
Play Area – If your kitchen, office, or another room where you spend lots of time has a window overlooking the side yard, this extra space might make a good play area.
Dog Run – If it is not an ideal area for your kids to play, it still might work nicely for your dogs. Side yards are perfect for out-of-the-way dog runs where your dogs can safely be outside when you are at work or entertaining guests in your outdoor living areas.
Cutting Garden or Shade Garden – If your side yard gets good sun, you can beautify this space and make it functional by planting a cutting garden to create fresh flower bouquets for your home. If it does not receive good sun, consider planting a shade garden filled with colorful plants that thrive in the narrow space between your house and your fence.
Seating Area – Create a cozy seating area in your side yard for reading, enjoying your morning coffee, or providing a spot to find some peace and quiet during social gatherings.
If your side yard transformation requires plants, patio furniture, flowerpots, or professional installation, support the local economy by using local contractors and buying from locally owned shops.
AimeeJo Davis-Varela is a freelance writer specializing in real estate, sustainable home improvement, eco-friendly landscaping, green living and travel writing. She is also the owner of Mind Your Manors, which provides second home management services.
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