If you’re privileged enough to have a home with some kind of outdoor space, you want that space to feel as large and open as possible. But, just like with indoor spaces, it’s all too easy to make stylistic choices that can make your yard feel smaller than it actually is. Have no fear: According to these real estate pros, the most common outdoor mistakes they see have an easy fix. Here are six things that are making your yard feel less spacious.
Forgetting to stay on top of pruning
To create the illusion of more space in your backyard, you should clear all the clutter from your yard — and that includes overgrowth. Make sure to keep all greenery trimmed. Overgrown shrubs and bushes not only look bad but can also make an outdoor space seem small.
Not getting rid of old or seldom-used stuff
It’s important to think of the exterior of a home in the same way you would the interior, according to Hannah Blackwelder, owner of Tangerine Staging. “Removing additional furniture, toys, yard maintenance equipment, and any extra outbuildings (like that old shed that’s been falling apart) will help the yard to seem bigger, tidier, and more appealing to prospective buyers,” she says. “Trampolines, kids’ toys, and pet toys are probably the first items I ask sellers to prioritize removing — you never realize how many dog chew toys and matchbox cars are hiding in your yard until you prepare to sell!” Even if you’re not selling, eliminating the excess can free up a lot of space, making your yard, patio, or deck feel bigger.
Failing to mulch
Mulch is like a fresh coat of paint, according to Weeks. “After you have cleaned out your flower beds or shrub beds, you should pile high the mulch,” she says. “New mulch looks and smells so good.” Plus, it helps cut back on the need for weeding, which can give your yard a more tidy look.
Displaying one too many pots
Most people have about 10 to 15 more outdoor pots than they actually need for their outdoor space. “I usually suggest to sellers they focus on placement and scale — one larger pot on the front porch with fresh plants is better than 10 smaller pots scattered on the back patio,” explains Blackwelder. “Visual clutter makes a small space feel even smaller.” You can fix this by eliminating extra pots and focusing on one coordinated grouping. (BRB, I’m going to go count my flower pots real quick.)
Not finishing projects
Blackwelder says she sees hundreds of homes each year, and the one thing she notices over and over again are unfinished projects. “Finish the deck, the repairs to the fence, that raised garden bed you started as your pandemic project — it doesn’t have to be your ideal, but it should look complete,” she says. “Then be sure all project leftovers and garbage are disposed of so the new updates shine.” That leftover pile of lumber isn’t doing you any favors.
Having numerous statement pieces
Too many garden statues and decorative yard signs can make your yard feel tiny, according to Blackwelder. You should remove those extra items, especially if you’re planning on listing your property for sale anytime soon. “Just as you would remove personal photos and knickknacks from the interior of the home, removing decorative signs from the exterior walls/fences and yard statues from around the yard helps depersonalize this vital space,” she says.