Small spaces are seldom considered worthy of a garden. Yet in today's urban areas, plot sizes and consequently garden spaces are increasingly getting smaller. (PHOTO: COURTESY)

Ever wondered how you can keep your chicken, dump your trash, hang cloths, store your garden tools and furniture in the backyard and still maintain a decent looking place? Well, the answer lies in designating a service area for your backyard. Many homes are plagued by unsightly gardens because they do not have a designated service area.

Like a great play at the theatre, an enchanting landscape relies as much on what happens behind the scenes as it does on the drama before your eyes. Your gardens’ backstage—its service area—should organise tools, trash, clothes lines, compost and even places for pets, so that each performs optimally without interfering with what’s happening on the stage that is your garden.

The service area is the practical part of your yard. Maximum convenience and production are therefore paramount. And because you want to leave most of your compound for your outdoor enjoyment, you will want to use as little space as practically possible. So then how do you tie the two together? Let us look at how you can set up your service areas to get the most out of your space.

 Storage areas

Efficient, good-looking storage units don’t just happen. In fact, it takes quite a bit of planning to come up with a storage that will ensure that the rest of your backyard is free of misplaced tools, toys and disused garden furniture.

First, you need to take an inventory the items you want to keep in it. While you are at it, think multipurpose. The best storage units do a lot more than just hold things. They also solve other problems such as creating privacy or providing a protected place to nurture seedlings.

Your shed can be freestanding or attached to a house, garage, carport, or other structures. Wherever it is, it should be sited and styled so that it is not only convenient and accessible, but also compatible with its surroundings. Keep the structure in scale with your house and yard, and develop a design that complements rather than competes with your architectural style.

 Pet areas

If your domestic animals have taken over your home and backyard, you need to designate an area where you can contain them. Besides their shelters, it may be important to include a fenced-in area within which they are free to move and play.

Of course different pets and animals have different requirements and need different degrees of restriction. If you have a dog for instance you may want to situate her kennel within barking distance of outdoor living areas so that she can keep in touch with family activities.

 Compost areas

Give careful attention to where you locate your compost heap. You need to find a fairly level spot with reasonably good drainage. Avoid placing the heap in a depression where the compost could become waterlogged during a wet season. Your location should also be close to a water supply (or at least within reach of a garden hose) so that if the compost becomes too dry, you can easily sprinkle it down.

A shady spot is preferable because too much sun will dry out the pile too frequently. The heap also should be close to your garden, accessible to a wheelbarrow and properly screened from outdoor living areas.