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Side Yard Makeover

By: James A. Baggett James A. Baggett
Everybody loves a good before & after — see one gardener’s smart (and easy care!) side yard makeover.

Side yard makeover before photo: A no-nonsense turfgrass pathway required regular mowing and since it was edged with chunks of rock, it had to be trimmed, as well.

Give your boring side yard a makeover

It’s easy to forget about side yards, those tricky strips of land between the house and property line like the one you see above. For many of us, these skinny spaces are challenging to landscape. It’s tempting to use them merely as passageways or an area to avoid altogether, where garbage and recycling bins are stowed and compost is piled out of sight. But they can be turned into a pleasant way to pass from the front yard to the back like this one in zone 5 Wisconsin.

Sideyard-before-and-after: Now this sideyard is anything but boring with a beautiful flagstone pathway with low-maintenance shrubs and perennials.

Informal pathway

What was once a straight grassy path between well-mulched beds becomes all the more pleasant and rewarding with the addition of a flagstone pathway that snakes through beds lined with reliable shrubs, annuals and perennials. Laying flagstone in concrete is costly and difficult. Instead, lay out the path beforehand with a hose in order to get a visual sense of how it will look and install it cheaply and easily on a gravel and sand bed like you see here.

Pathway plant companions

Cheerful yellow zinnias and blue salvia, fragrant white calamint and good old ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum escort you along this path. But it’s the hard-working shrubs that carry the weight of both beds: panicle and smooth hydrangea leading to Double Knock Out® roses and dwarf panicle hydrangea. After all, isn’t the journey more important than the destination?

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Meet the low-maintenance plants in this side yard garden

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Published: Nov. 19, 2019
Updated: March 30, 2021

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