8/20/12

side effects may vary

troubleshooting the illusive 'no man's land' between property lines

narrow sites call for simplicity...bamboo & a crushed stone path
it seems commonplace that most homeowners regard the side yard as an afterthought.  As in  not much more than a thoroughfare, a place for rubbish storage, or in some cases a dog run.  However, there could be a missed opportunity here to get creative, maximize function, and enhance the viewing pleasure from within the home.  
one bright color in this small side yard pulls it together; with just enough greenery to soften the edges


 

the secluded strolling garden...

even long, narrow 'right of way' spaces along property lines (sometimes not much more than 5 feet wide) can be transformed into a pleasant journey between a front yard and the more private backyard living space.  I tend to downplay the end of the path from the front; as not to draw attention (or intention) away from the front entry.  A path less grand and more casual, perhaps even meandering is more suitable.
detail of concept plan

small secret sanctuaries.... 

which would you rather have outside:  a place to meditate, drink your morning coffee, take a shower after a long hike, or enjoy an intimate 'al fresco' dinner for two?
Try installing a small bench or bistro table on a tiny patio, or float a small platform deck in a lush 'sea' of green.  
dine in style within a dreamy garden 'vignette'

relax already! sip your coffee, tea, vino...or take a nap

add good, clean, (& functional) fun with an outdoor shower
a small garden retreat can be melodic or quiet; a nice break from the kitchen or the  entertainment 'room' of the main backyard patio or deck. 

screening undesirables...

hiding utilities; such as the unaesthetic gas and electrical meters while keeping them accessible can be challenging.  For this purpose, I am a big fan of custom-built containers and enclosures.

As for unappealing trash & recycling containers- sometimes a structure is the best solution; doing a double duty of masking smells and keeping critters at bay.  
horizontal slatted cedar forms a nice screen panel & access gate
this shady side yard adjacent to a ravine is actually a front yard too!  screening various utilities and locating the right place for recycling, etc was tough but as the carefully considered plants fill in and wood starts to 'petina'; the garden grows into a lush & beautiful oasis

be a good neighbor

keeping on the subject of screening, sometimes the neighbors are too close  for comfort (even if y'all get along!) so planting a viable screen that both homeowners can enjoy becomes paramount.  I like bamboo in large troughs (or in deep root barrier), and evergreens such as columnar Irish yew Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata' (shade) and a few strategically places Italian cycpress  cupressus sempervirens (sun).  However, beware of the mature growth habits and the pest problems especially when considering planting dense in small spaces.

also, I dig the presence of a 'good neighbor' gate, no matter if it is in fact functional or not.  Keep in mind that fencing need not be limited to just wood panels.  A creative play on enclosure can not only keep the kids and/or dogs in, it can be a fun, colorful way to frame views, let light in, or provide a supportive structure for vines. 
your neighbors will either envy or enjoy!  small water features such as the 'eclipse fountain' = both a pleasant sound & color splash

raise it up! 

if there is an opportunity to go vertical, try growing some edibles. Fruit producing vines such as golden hops and red grape thrive here in sunny conditions.  Raised garden beds for edibles can also be a great fit if the width is there.  Two to four foot wide wood boxes are perfect for easy picking and maintenance.  
cool raised planter for veggies- built from salvaged wood (from the Re-store)
espalier apple trees...eat your yard!

golden cascade hops- why not! its a great durable summer vine; perfect for a bright filtered screen













so obviously the sky is the the limit!  Do you want to explore the possibilities?  we can help realize your yard's potential.
in the field measuring a side yard circa 2010

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