7 ideas to perk up your side yard

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5 min read

The side of your home can be a challenging space to work with. For many properties it’s often a neglected ‘waste of space’.

For homeowners and renters with pets, the side of house tends to turn into a combined dog run and washing line area; strewn with a collection of chewed-up toys and lost socks.

There’s more to this zone than meets the eye. In fact, there’s a lot you can do with the side area of your yard despite its size.

68 Glover Street, Mosman, VIC

Well-manicured front yards boost kerb appeal, outdoor entertaining drives backyard makeovers, but that doesn’t mean the rest of your garden should be abandoned.

To seamlessly extend a home’s useable outdoor space, make the most of the wasted areas down the sides of your home. Here are some ideas that’ll perk up the forgotten part of your backyard whether you’re after a relaxing sanctuary, a designated pet-space or a welcoming walkway.

Vertical garden

These space-saving gardens are ideal for making a lush statement in small areas.

Plants can be hung vertically through a box frame attached to the wall or fence. Hand-thrown pots perch inside, with plants that string downwards to fill out the space. Use a variety of plants and colours for visual appeal. Some ideas include string of pearls (Senecio), ferns, succulents and mistletoe cactus (Rhipsalis).

Planter path

Create function in your garden with planters and a pathway.

Side of house spaces are good for leading you or your guests from one space to another. Set the way with a straight stone path and a shady area at the destination. Watering troughs, pots or other planter ideas can help define the path when placed along the side.

A side fence/gate can also be added to pet-proof the space. Add a vertical water feature at the end of the pathway to contrast with the green foliage, which acts as a focal point. Planters are also practical if you run out of usable ground to put in a path or flower bed.

If space permits, incite a place to stop and relax by adding some outdoor seating surrounded by flower planters and lush greenery. This will create a nice place to hide out with a book and have a moment of peace.

21 MacMillan Street, Seaforth, NSW

Edible escape

Small designs that create big impact? Yes please!

The side of house is the perfect space for growing an edible garden because it’s close to the house. Plant your favourite herbs or easy-to-grow vegetables for a healthy kitchen supply at the tip of your fingers.

Lettuce, tomatoes, baby spinach, cucumbers, radishes and herbs all make for a tasty additions to your mini veggie patch. Depending on what you love to dish up in the kitchen, mint, rosemary, chives, coriander and basil are usually the best hardy edibles to start with. Carve out a simple paver pathway between your edible supplies to make picking and harvesting easier.

Overhead architecture

If you want to draw attention from outdated side fences or an ugly brick wall, use some overhead architecture to pull the eye upwards in your sideway.

Arbours with vines and lighting weaved through can add visual impact and make a pretty view from the interior of the house too. Build pergolas to connect the side of house with the fence or a wall. This will help to enhance the space and make it appear wider than it really is.

2A Rooke Lane, Hunters Hill, NSW

Pets & pathways

If you want to minimise your pets trampling plants and digging the lawn in the backyard, creating their own ‘dogscape’ space around the side of house can work wonders.

Dogs and cats are curious creatures. You can turn the area into a simple ‘running track’ with a long winding path. Alternatively, adding layers and dimension can stimulate your four-legged friend. Use hidden paths and pet-friendly plants to create a side of house jungle where they can make their own game of hide-and-seek or use as a comfort zone for a shady snooze.

Tip: Don’t forget to invest in pet-friendly materials for the space, such as artificial lawn or mulch with soft edges that won’t irritate paws.

9/64-66 Park Street, Mona Vale, NSW

Mix textures & shapes

Revamping the side of your house is the perfect opportunity to get creative.

If you have played it safe with the rest of your outdoor living design, inject personality into the side of your house. Layered planting, varied ground surfaces and interesting shapes and textures can all add excitement to the space.

Think timber boardwalks combined with slate paving for a tropical appeal or use contrasting materials like bamboo and corrugated metals for a fresh take on rustic. Circular pavers lined with stones can also make an elaborate side addition.

32 Highfield Road, Lindfield, NSW

Squeeze in a lap pool or outdoor shower

If you have a reasonable budget, why not add a lap pool or outdoor shower?

Lap pools are practical for small and narrow spaces, turning an average area into an inviting oasis perfect for summer living.

26A Ford Street, Clayfield, VIC

Otherwise, consider a copper shower with stepping stones for a purposeful urban paradise zone.

10A Thelma Street, Como, WA

Don’t let your home’s side yard lack the love and attention it deserves. There are endless possibilities for side of house ideas. What inspiration will you be incorporating into your space?

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Jayde Walker (Ferguson)
This article has been hand crafted by Homely.com.au lifestyle contributor Jayde Ferguson, Jayde is a freelance writer with a passion for outdoor living and entertaining. With a love for design and all things unique, Jayde provides the Homely team with the most up to date changes in property styling trends.

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  1. I absolutely love the look of the lap pool along the fence that you shared. I personally would LOVE to have a lap pool in my backyard because I swim for exercise daily at my gym. Unfortunately, my HOA won’t permit me to put an inground pool in. I also like the idea of a running path for the doggos. All good food for thought; great post!


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