10 Space Saving Tips for the Yard

 young girl and her mother watering the garden

Even a giant yard can feel cluttered and small without the right approach and organization. Here are 10 space-saving tips for your yard from landscape designer Sara Bendrick, TV Host of DIY Network's “I Hate My Yard” and author of “Big Impact Landscaping: 28 DIY Projects You Can Do on a Budget to Beautify and Add Value to Your Home.”

  1. Look for multifunctional items – for example, a cabinet that provides both storage and counter space of grilling, Bendrick says. An outdoor shelving system can pull triple duty as a display space, organization hotspot for gardening tools and a tabletop.
  2. If you have limited yard area for gardening, work vegetables into your ornamental beds – for example, planting a showy artichoke amid the poppies, Bendrick suggests, or encouraging string beans to climb a trellis. Alternatively, use space-saving containers for tomatoes or strawberries. “Strawberries love hanging over the side, they’re easier to pick off and they don’t rot in the soil,” Bendrick says.
  3. Both grassy lawn and hard patio space function similarly as summer-fun destinations for parties and relaxation. “Your lawn is your outdoor carpet,” Bendrick says. Place seating as far to the wall or fence as possible to create more entertainment area using 90-degree angles in the dining area, she suggests, perhaps even building a bench into the fence. Bendrick’s minimum for outdoor entertaining: a 12-by-12-foot area, including a table and seating.
  4. To create privacy, seek out tall, narrow or climbing plants that fit in a 2 foot-wide space, which rise higher than the usual 6’ tall fence. “Choose ones that hedge well like escallonia or tall narrow trees like cypress,” Bendrick says.
  5. Create a more organized feel for the lawn and boost space with planter beds that are rectangular or square near the house and fence lines – the perimeter of your lawn.
  6. To trick the eye into seeing more space, simplify your plant palette, Bendrick says. “Instead of 15, use only 3 types of plants,” Bendrick says, placing them toward the yard’s perimeter.
  7. Hang mirrors and small windows on a fence to create the illusion of spaciousness -- but only if north-facing, as a mirror on a south-facing fence may burn the lawn. Another barrier boost: if looking out into wooded area or a friendly neighbor’s backyard, try a semi-transparent fence. “With the peek into another space, you feel less claustrophobic – as long as it isn’t into the neighbor’s pool,” Bendrick says.
  8. Simplify children’s spaces by leaving room for versatility, Bendrick says, and not installing permanent fixtures. Designate a 5-6 square foot space that can grow with the children – perhaps starting out with a portable climbing playset, then bouncy exercise balls, then a T-ball setup.
  9. Don’t waste space by trying to fit skinny slivers of lawn into places where it doesn’t belong, Bendrick says. Anything smaller than three feet wide can be added to the patio or made into a petite veggie garden.
  10. Don’t overwork your yard with too many elements, Bendrick says – it’s a common mistake. “Pick three main features, such as a dining table, sitting area and a water feature. Or a play space, a barbeque and a bench,” she suggests. “More than that feels pretty cramped.”

With these tips, take your yard from cramped to comfortable, with ample room for relaxation and entertainment. Plus, you'll improve curb appeal and enjoy better sightlines, which can improve both security and views. In even the smallest yard, you'll live large.