Side Yard Makeover: From No Man’s Land To Most Useful Space Ever

…What is this “side yard” of which you speak?

Side yards are not a thing I have any experience with, and definitely are not something I have given much (if any) thought to. Like, ever.

I didn’t even have a side yard at our house in NYC (or, I guess I kind of did because there was a space between our house and the house next to us, but it consisted largely of a spricket-and-poison-ivy-infested wasteland. Then I moved out to the California suburbs, and everyone here seems to have a pair of functional side yards. We have neighbors who use the long, narrow spaces that run along the edges of their houses for storage, as dog runs, to hold chicken coops, as play spaces for their kids – all kinds of things.

We use ours especially well, I think.

side yard renovation into tool shed


One of our side yards houses our vegetable garden, but the side yard on the other side of the house – pictured above in all its photogenic glory – has always been “the place where I throw boxes and then forget to tell Kendrick that they’re there until midnight on the night before our recycling pickup.” In other words, I don’t really use it – because…I don’t know, it’s always like ten thousand degrees in that spot for some reason and I feel like anything I stored there would probably melt, and besides, it has to be kept fairly clutter-free because it’s used as an access route to our pool area.

But now? Oh, now I think about side yards. I have thought about my side yard in particular so much lately, because it turned out that the very first step in our garage makeover (which is still in progress) was to figure out where to put the garage-y things that I didn’t want to be featured in our lovely new multifunctional recreational space (tools, my dad’s motorcycle, our bikes, etc).

…And where do you think those things ended up?

Side yard!

how to renovate a side yard into a tool shed

What we did:

First, we added a slanted roof (for rain runoff) and closed up the walls to create a covered area. We then added shingles to the exterior of the roof so that it would match the roof of the rest of the house (and therefore look like an extension of the house from the front), reinforced the exterior gate with an alarm system and locks, and installed an interior gate to separate the part of the space that houses the motorcycle from the part where we keep our bikes and tools.

bike hooks hanging from ceiling

We also installed hooks to hang our bikes and scooters…

shelving for tool storage in side yard

Hung shelving for tools and cleaning supplies…

additional electrical outlets for power tools

Put in a couple of outlets for power tools and such…

antique wooden croquet set

And found a spot to store our croquet set when we’re not using it (which is always, as I have no idea how to play croquet).

We also painted the interior white with gray accents (the same shade as the accents on our exterior – Benjamin Moore Raccoon Fur – and power washed the floor, and I am right this very moment ordering some hooks to hang Kendrick’s awesome Costco-sourced surfboard.

We only entertained the idea of renovating our side yard out of necessity – because of the garage makeover – but knowing how much more efficient we made the space makes me wish we’d done it a looooong time ago. (Especially getting those bikes up and off the floor – such a space-saver.)

how to make your side yard a more functional space

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