A Voice from the Eastern Door

How to Backyard Big, Even in Small Spaces

Adopt a "Master Backyarder" mindset to maximize backyarding benefits when you have a small yard...or none at all

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Backyarding is the practice of taking everyday activities – think entertaining, eating, working, and working out to name a few – into the green space around us. Even those living in an urban setting with a smaller yard – or no yard at all – can enjoy the benefits of backyarding, according to the TurfMutt Foundation, which advocates for the care and use of yards, parks, and community green spaces.

"Thanks to smaller yards, community parks, and neighborhood green space, backyarding big even in small spaces is possible," says Kris Kiser, president & CEO of the TurfMutt Foundation. "It takes a little planning and adopting what we like to call a 'master backyarder' mindset."

This is terrific news since a recent survey conducted for the TurfMutt Foundation by The Harris Poll indicates that backyarding is increasingly important to Americans. More than three-quarters of Americans who have a yard (76%) say the family yard space is one of the most important parts of their home, according to the poll. Additionally, nearly a quarter of Americans who have a yard (24%) say they spend more time in their yards now than before 2020.

The TurfMutt Foundation offers this advice for getting outside and enjoying green space when you have a small yard...or no yard at all.

Plant with purpose. Plan carefully and creatively to utilize every square inch of living landscape real estate in support of your lifestyle. Need a place for your pet to do her business? Plant a small patch of grass. Long to take work outside? Set up a table in an under-utilized side yard (complete with a living landscape backdrop, of course) that can double as an outdoor dining area. Love nature? Plant a butterfly bush.

Use plants to create privacy. Rather than putting up a fence in a small yard, consider a "living wall" of trees or shrubs. It will make your outdoor space feel bigger and offer support to backyard wildlife and insects. Win, win!

Go vertical. Don't forget to incorporate vertical space into your planting plans. You can hang flower baskets on your fence or railing. A trellis laced with living vines is a gorgeous focal point. Green walls are all the rage and utilize blank wall space to create a living landscape feature.

Utilize balconies & patios. Even if you don't have grass or any soil to plant in, you can utilize containers to plant flowers, herbs, and even fruit and vegetables. There are also many planters available that attach to balcony railings.

Remember right plant, right place. Selecting the right plants for your lifestyle and climate is key to mastering a small backyard space. Consult the US Plant Hardiness Zone Map for help selecting the best plants for your microclimate. This will not only ensure you end up with plants that will thrive with minimal upkeep, they will also be best for supporting local pollinators.

Enjoy community green space. Take your kids to the park for a study session. Walk the dog through the community green space at the end of your road. Plan a doggie playdate at the local dog park. These are all wonderful places to get a dose of Vitamin N(ature).

For more information, sign up for Mutt Mail, a monthly e-newsletter with backyarding tips and all the news from the TurfMutt Foundation here. To learn more about creating the yard of your dreams, visit TurfMutt.com. Look for Mulligan the TurfMutt on the CBS Lucky Dog television show. Here is a link to the International Backyarding Fact Book, to learn why spending time in our yards and community parks is good for us...and the planet.

About the TurfMutt Foundation

TurfMutt was created by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute's (OPEI) TurfMutt Foundation and has reached more than 70 million children, educators and families since 2009. Championed by Foundation spokesdog, Mulligan the TurfMutt, and through education partners such as Weekly Reader, Discovery Education and Scholastic, TurfMutt has taught students and teachers how to "save the planet, one yard at a time." Today, TurfMutt is an official USGBC® Education Partner and part of their global LEARNING LAB. TurfMutt has been an education resource at the U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Green Apple, the Center for Green Schools, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the National Energy Education Development (NEED) project, Climate Change Live, Petfinder and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2017, the TurfMutt animated video series won the coveted Cynopsis Kids Imagination Award for Best Interstitial Series. TurfMutt's personal, home habitat was featured in the 2017-2020 Wildlife Habitat Council calendars. More information at TurfMutt.com.


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