Small areas like side yards and narrow strips between streets and sidewalks can become difficult to maintain without thoughtful design. A very specific landscape should be planned with access, storage, microclimate conditions, drainage and slope, size and shape, and the surrounding landscape conditions in mind.
Grass in street berms, the area between the sidewalk and the curb, can be replaced with ground cover plants, low shrubs, mulch or any combination. Avoid vegetable gardens and perennial beds that may take lots of attention and disrupt the sidewalk area.
Side yard spaces that only provide access from the back to the front of a home or building should remain an access corridor. Good landscape choices in these areas include mulch with stepping stones, storage areas, small vegetable or flower gardens, and entry courts.
Use ground cover plants to eliminate small lawn areas. To create a privacy screen, use plants that do not require large amounts of water or maintenance. Decorative effects can be obtained with a combination of mulch colors, materials, sizes and configurations.
Landscape choices on public right-of-ways may be restricted by municipal codes and regulations. Consult with the local municipality or homeowners associations before beginning work. Since most utility lines are in public rights-of-way, check with local utility companies before beginning any work.
Neighboring landscapes should also be considered so a landscape can be designed that won't clash with a neighborhood streetscape concept. Corner lots normally have restrictions which limit the height of plants or structures near the intersection of streets for visibility reasons.
For more information, see the following Colorado State University Extension fact sheet(s).
- Mulches for Home Grounds
- Xeriscaping: Creative Landscaping
- Xeriscaping: Trees and Shrubs
- Xeriscaping: Ground Cover Plants
- Xeriscaping: Retrofit Your Yard
- Ground Cover Plants
- Evergreen Trees
- Small Deciduous Trees
- Large Deciduous Trees
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Updated Tuesday, November 19, 2013