Small Yard? Big Problems: Here’s Why Smaller Outdoor Areas Can Be More Work

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When you don’t have much time to devote to home maintenance, you likely gravitate toward properties that don’t have much outdoor space. That way, you can avoid wasting whole weekends on yardwork tasks like mowing vast swaths of lawn, pruning ancient 40-foot trees, vacuuming the diving pool and so on.

Unfortunately, this strategy of seeking out smaller yards doesn’t always work. Here are a few facts about the effort required to maintain a smaller yard — and how to do it successfully.

Smaller Yard Means Less Storage

Taking care of a yard requires not only effort but also the right tools. At the very least, the average yard owner needs:

  • A lawn mower
  • A weed whacker
  • A wheelbarrow
  • A hose
  • A garden rake
  • A leaf rake
  • A trowel
  • A garden spade
  • Pruners
  • Shears
  • Hedge clippers
  • A push broom
  • A ladder

Unfortunately, rakes and lawn mowers are always roughly the same size, so when your yard is smaller, your tools will take up a larger percentage of your space. In a larger yard, you could build a small shed to hold all your equipment, but when you barely have a few square feet of outdoor space, you simply don’t have any storage to speak of.

Fortunately, there is a solution: hiring a yard care service. For example, in a big city like Baltimore, lawn mowing services bring their own mowers, edgers, aerators, drop seeders and more, so you don’t need to think about any aspect of lawn maintenance, let alone how you will store all the stuff associated with it. Because the size of your yard is small, you probably won’t outlay much to keep up these professional services, and you will better enjoy the time and space not devoted to yard work.

Smaller Yard Means Less Charm

There is something slightly fantastical about a large and lush backyard. Hiding in the shade of large trees, behind thickets of attractive shrubs and amongst the rose bushes, there is magic. However, when you can stretch your arms out and brush your home and your back fence, much of that charm is inherently lost. You can see every corner of your small yard, which means the illusion and mystery of a larger garden is much more difficult to achieve.

However, it isn’t impossible to have a small but charming outdoor space. Here are a few ideas for adding magic back into a diminutive backyard:

  • Use your vertical space. Because you can’t expand outward, you’ll need to build interest up. You can create layers of greenery with medium-height and tall plants, or you might create a garden wall with climbing plants or graduated pots.
  • Use bold colors. Monochrome is classy but bland, especially in a small space. You can speak volumes by adding brightly colored furniture, painting a wall with a saturated hue or opting for large and loud blooms.
  • Use simplicity. The smaller your space, the simpler your design needs to be. If you crowd your small backyard with greenery, furniture and other decorations, you could risk looking like a hoarder. Think minimal modern first, and expand if you have extra room.

Smaller Yard Needs Smart Design

When you don’t have much room to spread out, you need to be careful how you organize your outdoor space so you can find function as well as charm in your yard. In a larger yard, you can create different sections for different activities: a play structure for the kids, an outdoor kitchen for the adults and a lawn for the pets. However, when you lack square footage outside, you need to be smart with how you arrange your space.

Specifically, you need to prioritize functions in your backyard. If you have kids and/or pets, they will likely take precedence in the space, so you will probably want your yard to be dominated by a lawn that won’t succumb from plenty of play. Then again, if you like to entertain, you should choose to mold your space for guests with plenty of seating and perhaps a firepit. If you lack well-honed spatial awareness, you might want to use an outdoor designer to help you create a functional and beautiful yard.

A small yard is a good choice for those who don’t need much space — but a small yard doesn’t excuse you entirely from the woes of exterior design and maintenance. As long as you are aware of the concerns that come with smaller areas, you should succeed at getting what you want from your outdoor space.