Green thumb gives tips for turning yard into a “yarden”

Kim Halyak

Kim Halyak

By Kim Halyak

This month Kim Halyak, a member of the Cooper-Young Garden Club and owner/designer of this month’s Yard of the Month, starts a new series of columns on garden design.

Do you have a “YARD” or a “YARDEN” outside your house?

I define “a yard” as the space outside your house, usually carpeted with grass and edged by foundation plants, that you pass by entering/exiting your house daily.  You spend time mowing and weeding it, using it as a path to your garbage can or BBQ grill. Most likely it’s more for show than fun activities.

A “yarden” on the other hand is a yard with a purpose. It is designed like a series of rooms, each meeting one or more family needs. It may contain a garden of flowers and vegetables, but it is so much more. A “yarden” is a multipurpose, functional space that enables you to entertain, garden, play, relax, and pursue hobbies. Its thoughtful design makes upkeep easier and more enjoyable. Most importantly, everything looks harmonious and beautiful.

Realtors speak of a home’s interior square-foot dollar value. Now consider the potential value of your outside yard square footage which is usually 2-4 times the size of your house. With a well thought out “YARDEN design”, you increase both your enjoyment of your space and the value of your home.

Lesson 1: Brainstorming

The cold of winter is the best time to start planning that fabulous outdoor space you’ve always wanted. If you aspire to make your yard into a YARDEN, then follow these simple steps:

Grab a pencil and several sheets of paper. Ask yourself, if money, time, and garden space were unlimited, what would my ideal yard look like? What activities and amenities would I include?

Write down every idea, even if it seems impossible. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Relaxation:  napping in a hammock, bird watching, hot tub, sauna, pool, outdoor shower, star gazing, benches, place to read, fire pit, music speakers, bird/bat houses/feeders

Entertaining: BBQ, table/chairs, screened porch, patio, solar lights, seating

Plant Growing: raised beds, grow your own veggies/herbs/flowers/roses, native plants

Children’s Area: swings, sandbox, climbing structure, fort, tree house, obstacle course, trampoline, playhouse, chalkboard, horseshoes,

Pet’s Area: place to run, obstacle course, storage for food, keep mud out of house, wash dogs, pet doors, place for pets to get out of rain

Hobbies: table for art projects, welding, electricity, shed, storage for tools

Sensory: fountain, fragrant plants, bright colors, wind mobiles, chimes, sculpture

Sustainability: raise chickens/rabbits/bees/worms, composting, recycling storage, dry clothes, recycled materials

Storage: bikes, tools, animal feed, children’s toys

Whimsey: garden art, garden quotes,

After you’ve exhausted your list ideas, start gathering pictures of outdoor spaces you like from books, magazines, and Pinterest. Notice what colors, moods, and styles resonant with you.

In Lesson 2, we begin to look at our space with new eyes.

Feel free to email Halyak at if you have questions.

Author: LampLighter

The voice of Cooper-Young, a vibrant, diverse neighborhood to live, work and play, in the heart of Midtown Memphis, Tennessee.

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