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How to Make the Most of a Small Backyard

Jun 06, 2020 by Maurie Backman

In some parts of the country, it's easy to find an affordable home on an acre of land or more. In other areas, outdoor space can be difficult to come by. In fact, if you're right outside a major city, you may find that despite having technically moved to the suburbs, you're stuck with a backyard that isn't much to write home about.

Of course, having a smaller backyard isn't all bad. In fact, you might prefer a smaller yard if it saves you time and money on maintenance in the long run. Having a smaller yard could also mean lower property taxes, since the amount of acreage you have is taken into account when determining your home's value. But if your outdoor space is limited, here are a few things you can do to maximize it.

1. Consider a raised deck

Adding a deck is a great way to incorporate seating into your outdoor space, and if you don't have a lot of room to work with, you might consider a raised deck for one big reason: You can salvage the space underneath it, whether by making it a play area or using it for storage. Looking to hide a shed? Stick it under a deck, where it's less visible. Plus, if your home has a view, a raised deck might better help you enjoy it.

2. Stick to smaller bushes and plants

Surrounding yourself with thick, luscious shrubs and exotic plants might seem appealing, but if you don't have a lot of backyard space to work with, consider taking a more minimalist approach to landscaping. Choose bushes and plants that are aesthetically pleasing but aren't particularly large or obtrusive. You might also consider trimming trees on your property so branches don't limit where you can sit and walk or run around.

3. Choose your furniture wisely

Those outdoor sofas and oversized dining sets you see in catalogs? They're lovely for people who have the space for them, but if you don't, think small. Choose a compact table for outdoor meals, and skip the outdoor couch if it monopolizes too much grass space. You can always buy a comfortable lounge chair instead that you open and collapse as needed so it's not permanently taking up space.

4. Skip the playset

If you have kids, an outdoor playset might seem like a great idea. But if space is limited in your yard, that playset could end up occupying the bulk of it, leaving you little to no room to roam around. If that's the case, you're better off not committing to that large structure and instead letting your children use creativity -- and perhaps some portable toys and sports equipment -- to guide their outdoor play.

Having a smaller backyard isn't all bad, as long as you make the most of it. Use your outdoor space strategically, and you may find that your smaller yard isn't an issue at all.

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