Unlike the front yard or backyard, most side yards seem to have little use except to provide access around the side of the house. Consequently, most side yards are wasted and leftover areas (corner sites or those that do have generous space on one or both sides of the house are exceptions). They often tend to be trouble spots owing to the
lack of direct access from the house and because of the narrow space that exists between the house and property line. Side yards vary in width from a narrow 3 to 5 feet to a normal 8 to 12 feet or more. The following list describes typical side-yard conditions:
1. Dominated by Access. Access through the side yard may be vehicular, pedestrian, or both. For vehicular access, a driveway usually fills the side yard, creating problems similar to those of a driveway along a side of the front yard (Figure 1—26). When cars are parked in a side-yard driveway, the limited space tends to feel even smaller and more cramped than the front yard.
Preferred Location for Storage. Because side yards tend to be out of the main areas of activity as well as primary lines of sight, they often tend to be used for storing visually objectionable equipment and materials. Larger side yards are apt to be storage areas for cars, boats, recreation vehicles, and so on (Figure 1-27).
Damp and Dark Microclimate. Some side yards tend to be dark, damp, and humid owing to their narrowness and lack of sun exposure. This is especially true of regions that receive significant rainfall.
4. Wasted Space. Expansive side yards tend to be unused as activity areas owing to poor accessibility from within the house. This can amount to a sizable wasted area that still has to be maintained.
5. Views Between Houses. The narrow size of some side yards allows the windows of one house to directly face the windows of the neighboring house (Figure 1—28). This diminishes privacy from these windows. To minimize this problem, most homeowners keep the curtains in these windows closed all the time. A more extreme solution, which is a common occurrence, is the construction of houses with no windows facing the side yards.