Outdoor Enhancements for Homeowners Who Don't Have a Traditional Yard

Whether you live in the city or are dealing with an unconventional space, ESTATENVY spoke with garden and landscaping experts to find ways to enhance your yard year-round.

Not every yard is “traditional.” Outdoor living space doesn’t have to be defined as a large area of greenery that’s often thought to be in a suburban area—from city living to small or unconventional spaces, there are many ways to make your backyard your own. But what enhancements are best for these types of unique front and backyards? ESTATEVNY spoke with landscape and garden experts Maureen Taylor or Taylor Made Landscape Design and Mary Gignilliat of Gardens that Grow to find out.

When making enhancements to a non-traditional yard, Gignilliat suggests starting with a few simple tasks that have the potential to go a long way.

“Very few spaces in the city are traditional. The outdoor spaces are usually small, shady because of buildings or trees and not necessarily yards. Many urban dwellers have balconies and roof decks,” said Gignilliat. “The fastest way to improve an outdoor space is to add color with containers planted with colorful, seasonally appropriate annuals. It’s important to make sure that you are using the right plants for the growing conditions in your yard. Most people over-estimate the amount of sun their spaces receive. Plants that need sun will not thrive in shady spots. And shade plants will fry in the sun. One other tip for containers: water. In the heat of the summer, they will need watering at least once a day.”

Another way to take your outdoor living space to the next level is to make sure that you’re utilizing all of the space that you have. Taylor says that one of the most common things that she sees is a forgotten side yard that’s going to waste.

“One thing that we do a lot of is taking care of neglected side yards. Many houses have a little bit of property on the side that isn’t part of the front or back yards—it’s just wasted space. By moving the fence a little bit, that space becomes usable. Even if you only have nine or 10 feet to work with, with a small patio, shrubbery and chairs, side yards can become secret gardens,” said Taylor.

When looking to enhance the outdoor area that surrounds your home, it’s also important to consider bringing in professional help. Depending on your level of familiarity with gardening and landscaping, it might be best to turn to someone with a trained eye for suggestions and guidance.

Gignilliat said, “If homeowners have no interest in gardening, but want a lovely space, they should hire a landscaping company that provides expert maintenance over the nine-month season. This usually includes spring and fall cleanings along with monthly growing season visits. The same company can change out containers and/or in-ground planting seasonally using the appropriate, colorful annuals.”

However, if you already have a green thumb or are interested in learning more about gardening yourself—even in a non-traditional space—there are easy ways to learn. Gignilliat continued, saying, “Buy some good basic books about gardening and dive in head first. Many people are afraid of making mistakes while gardening. That’s how you learn! Gardens are like hair: they grow back. If you get a bad haircut—and who hasn’t had a terrible one—it grows back. If you mess up your garden, it grows back. All good.”