Friday, July 21, 2017

Even a side yard can be stunning and filled with purpose

Too often, I see side yards as unplanned and under utilized, even though this valuable area offers so much possibility. Hopefully, these tips inspire you to turn your side yard into a gorgeous slice of serenity, if it's not already!

Mark the entrance to your side yard with a gate, arbor or planted containers. The most charming entrances are ones that tell the passerby that something special can be found beyond, but also says that entrance is "by invitation only".

This charming gate is painted in one of
my favorite Farrow & Ball colors.

Urns and pots filled with plants easily
mark the entrance to your side yard
First and foremost, start with a solid foundation. Unless you want to haul out the lawn mower for this little strip of green, I suggest laying down brick pavers, flagstones, decking, rocks or pea gravel - all work well. The idea is to create a level and easily walkable area from the front of the house to the back. 

Charming leaf shaped stepping stones add personality

Organic flat topped rocks add much needed
weight to compliment this solid historic home
Brick pavers set in a classic herringbone
pattern match the tradition of this home
I love how the lumber runs lengthwise,
calling you to the back
Adding a walkway can be outsourced, or
depending on your skills, a DIY project
Here's a great link to get you started.

Start by adding ground cover around your pavers. Use plants that work well in your growing region. I have used moss and thyme between mine. This softens the look of the pavers considerably.

Side yards are usually very narrow. The key is to keep your plantings close to the walls, allowing easy flow down the middle. Using the vertical space is a brilliant way to add green and texture, without encroaching into the walkway.

Pots and containers can also help, especially if your ground is hardscaped from wall to wall, providing no soil for planting.

Because your side yard will act as a pass through, I recommend keeping the plantings simple. I love white blooming flowers in side yards as the light is typically shaded and the white blossoms add pops of light during the day and glow at night.

Even though this is often a pass through from the front of the house, the public side, to the back of the house, the private side, you can still add details that will enhance the charm and one's experience in the space. Think of it as a transition area, e.g., a soothing wall fountain can soften road noise and whispers to all who walk by that they are leaving one place to enter a new one.

Think of the different ways you can use your side yard. Mine is a staging point from the kitchen to the back yard where we entertain a lot. Adding a table allows me a place to lay out cocktails and appetizers to greet guests, it becomes an ideal gathering place for dirty dishes and anything else I need to tuck away throughout the party, and, because it is the last spot guests walk by on their way out, it becomes a great staging spot for parting gifts bathed in candle light.

For many, the side yard is as big as it gets. Transforming this space into a gathering spot can be so much fun. Keep your seating and tables petite and foldable, keep trays at the ready, and add in softness with cushions and throws.

Such a sweet little talking area
Finally, light up your space with overhead café lights, lanterns, lamps, or integrate permanent exterior lights into your space.

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur

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