Solving Your Side Yard Problem

Vertical gardening can transform that dreary side yard.

By , Columnist

Garden Up!

Do you have a guilty secret in your garden? Is it your side yard? Perhaps the decor there consists of a trash can and a yard waste container. Or, like mine, the prime feature is an air-conditioning unit. 

For expert advice I turned to garden designer Susan Morrison, co-author of the new book Garden Up! Smart Vertical Gardening for Small and Large Spaces. Her book is full of practical design guides, plant suggestions, and a wealth of inspiring photos. 

Morrison and co-author Rebecca Sweet transform side yards by going vertical with plants.

Morrison says, "Tall plants are essential to turning bare side yard walls into lush gardens, but bold, dense foliage can easily overwhelm the space. Trees and shrubs like Japanese maples, with their delicate, lace-cut foliage, help open up a narrow area, while plants with silver or chartreuse leaves act like the missing sunshine."

If the area is too narrow for trees she suggests trellises. "A sturdy trellis system will allow you to grow vines or espaliered shrubs several feet higher than the top of the fence."

You can also make the side yard a secret garden, seen mostly from the house. "Consider the windows of the kitchen, bedroom, or other rooms in the house as a frame", Morrison adds, "and fill them with views of plants and garden art to be enjoyed from inside."

Come over to the photo gallery and see four enviable side yards, accompanied by Morrison's design tips. Leave a comment and tell me which new garden area is your favorite. 

View gallery: Dress Up Your Side Yard

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Charlotte Germane dishes the dirt on gardens and royalty in magazines, radio shows, newspapers, and blogs. Follow her on Twitter @aRightRoyalBlog to get her slant on the latest news. She live-blogged the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton for The Morton Report and has a series of royalty…

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