My small house and yard used to be a source of discouragement for me. Not only is our yard small, but half of it is unusable as it’s steeply sloped and covered with large trees. This is definitely not ideal with three small boys with energy abounding. And with little space for my kids to run around, ride bikes, throw a ball, or play tag, we can all quickly come down with a case of the cabin fever over here. Living in a small house can be difficult, especially if you have children.
I spent many years wishing for bigger and better. What I finally come to terms with is this: living with the mindset of the grass is always greener is not doing me or my family any favors. I must make the best of our living situation, in every way possible.
So over the years we have slowly done our best to make our yard as usable and kid friendly as possible in order for our little guys to have a place to run and play, as well as a place for us adults to hang out on a nice, summer evening.
While we still have a long way to go in getting our yard to where we’d like it to be, we have a plan and we are executing it as time and finances allow.
Here are a few things we’ve done, and plan to continue doing, to make the most of our small yard:
1. We try to keep our yard clean.
Right now, our yard is a bit of a work in progress as we’ve had some ongoing projects and not enough time to complete them. But typically, we try our best to keep our yard as clear of unnecessary extra’s as possible.
Similar to our theory and goal for inside the home, we also de-clutter our yard of all toys and tools to make room for as much “white space” as possible. This, in turn, makes our yard appear much larger than it actually is.
2. We set up our backyard to be as open as possible.
This summer, we tore down a huge shed we had in our backyard that came with the house when we bought it. Our backyard was much too small for a shed of that size – it looked odd and out of place in our tiny back yard. It was also in a very strange location – butted up against the house and partially covering the window of our third bedroom. Therefore, it finally had to go. We will eventually replace it with a smaller shed that will fit more nicely and proportionately against the side of our house.
We also got a play set for the boys a few years ago that we never had a proper place to set up, so finally over Christmas we cleared a spot and up it went. We set up the play set in a corner of our yard at a diagonal, where there’s still plenty of room for the boys to play on the play set, but also enough space to make room for other things in our limited backyard space. Now that the boys have a safe place to play without my constant need to supervise, my feelings towards my yard have dramatically improved!
3. We took out all of the existing landscaping.
Immediately after we moved in 5 years ago, we gutted our entire yard – front and back. Thomas took out all of the existing shrubs and trees in the front yard, as well as removed several large trees that were impeding space in the back and side yard. The previous owners did not have any grass in the backyard at all – they had river rock. We can now see why, as our backyard doesn’t get optimal sunshine for maintaining grass, but we went for it anyway and immediately dug out all the rock and planted grass instead. This has made a ginormous impact in opening up our yard.
It was a huge process, but one that was well worth it. Eventually we’d like to plant a few small shrubs to fill in some of the space with fresh, new plants again. But for now, we’re very happy with the renovation.
Gutting our existing landscaping transformed our entire yard- front and back – and now allows much more space for us to enjoy the limited area we do have.
4. We keep it simple.
I truly believe that in all aspects of life, a little goes a long way. And this is no different for our yard.
We don’t have fancy, elaborate plants, gardens, trees, etc. Actually, we have virtually none of that. If you have a small yard and want to make the most of it, having a bunch of shrubs isn’t the way to go. Too much landscaping can clutter a yard and take away from the space you’re trying to preserve.
In addition, not only do we like the clean look of simply grass, but once it’s grown in, it’s very low maintenance. This is also a major bonus if you have limited time, like we do!
We also don’t own a lot of yard toys or patio furniture. We keep a set of four patio chairs stacked under our awning for the summer months, and that’s it.
5. We use the cul-de-sac and front yard space.
And finally…if all else fails, use the cul-de-sac!
When you’re working with limited yard options, a neighborhood cul-de-sac is a great way to obtain extra space for active children. We actually have a small front yard as well, but we have a basketball hoop in our driveway that the boys like to play with. We also have a large cul-de-sac for riding bike’s, scooters, or playing catch.
The only drawback with this is that one of us has to be outside with the boys while they’re in the front, as it’s not a private area and we have to watch for cars. However depending on how much energy we’re trying to work out, this is worth it!
Sometime’s a little boy’s just gotta run, and with a small yard and limited options, the neighborhood just might be the answer.
After many years of feeling discontented with our house and yard, I’m ready to be done with that mindset. Now that I’m looking at what can be done with a small yard, it honestly doesn’t seem quite so bad. Not only that, but I’ve actually come to appreciate my house and yard for all that it is, instead of being discouraged with what it’s not.
It was almost as if I gave myself permission to enjoy what we have.
It’s amazing how a perspective change can make all the difference!
Once I changed my mindset, I realized my small yard doesn’t have to be the end of the world. My active children can still play outside. We can still barbecue and entertain. We can still make the most of our home by treating it with love and care, and maintaining what God has so generously blessed us with.
I finally felt free to explore the possibilities that my home and yard allows us.
And that, my friends, is what home is all about.
Do you have a small yard? What are some things you do to maximize space?
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