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  • Writer's pictureMariel Megan Ross

You'll regret not trying these backyard ideas right now

If you have limited yard space, how do you make your Denver yard shine?

Check out this amazing use of space by a recent Focus Real Estate client (home is under contract)

We’re seeing a trend these days in Littleton and Denver real estate.  Homebuyers want great outdoor spaces, maybe more than ever.  While well-priced single family homes in southern Denver continue to sell at a rapid pace, downtown Denver condos, for example, are struggling – in part because of the lack of outdoor space.  The median sales price for downtown condos are down almost 20% from last August according to (wow!).

So you need a great outdoor space, both for yourself and when you sell.  You know that.  But yard space is at a premium in Sterling Ranch. So where to start? And if you have a smaller yard, how do you max out what you have and get your space looking and functioning like a larger yard?

I dug through some of our recent listings and client purchases here at Focus Real Estate to give you my very favorite easy and effective backyard tips.  After putting together this blog post, I’m already regretting not trying these long ago (ugh … I really want a swing!).  So don’t make the same mistake I have!

It’s time for a swing.  For real.

I love the swings on this Denver metro home recently listed and sold by Focus

You heard that right.  Life is too short to not have an adult and kid-friendly swing.  Check out the picture above of a recent listing of ours. You can’t tell me you don’t want to jump on and start swinging right now.  These 3 swings completely change the feel of the side yard.

Check out the sandbox and chalkboard

If you like the 3 swings, you'll like this porch swing. This is one the best examples I’ve seen of a small addition taking an outdoor space to another level.  Add in the chalkboard and sandbox, and I can see myself swinging a summer afternoon away while the kids play in the sandbox.  The seller did great job of taking a unique backyard layout and turning it into something special.

Add the right colors ASAP

So much well-placed color in this yard

Check out this backyard in Denver's Central Park neighborhood.  This is a recent Focus listing from Joe Phillips.

When I’m scanning this backyard, the bright orange umbrella and seat cushions, the multi-colored pillows, and the green grass and trees cause my eyes to pause.  My eyes settle on each one of these colors as I scan the backyard.  Instead of a large swath of brown mulch, or green grass, or patio, the colors break up the yard into smaller bite-sized experiences, which can help make a yard feel bigger.

If you’re stuck in the brown/beige patio furniture world, try adding 3-4 bright outdoor pillows or seat cushions. See if you can grow your yard (psychologically) 5% by just popping some color out there!

Bridge skinny spaces with a deck

From a skinny space into your best space

One of my favorite successful home projects (there have been many misses as well, trust me) was when we added a small viewing deck to our downtown townhome. There was a skinny, awkward space next to our HVAC unit on the roof. Space was at a premium, so we needed to find a way to use that area. We ended up adding a raised 5′ x 5′ “mini-deck” into the nook. We popped a small table and two barstools onto the mini-deck and voila, we had a downtown viewing platform which ended up being the best part of the townhome.

Check out this home Ashley Parsons Faller’s buyer purchased. I love how the homeowners took a skinny, harder-to-use space between two garages and created something amazing. The deck itself is just big enough for a smaller evening dinner party, an afternoon of online learning with the kids, or Sunday afternoon dinner with the family.

If you can't go sideways, go vertical

A small handful of plants that go even a few feet vertical can add lots of green to your yard

If yard space is at a premium, maybe you don’t want to throw down a few strips of turf to ensure you have a splash of green. Between a sprinkler system, regularly mowing, water use and costs, and so on, it doesn’t always make sense to add turf (though I love artificial turf, which helps with a few of these issues and is a great alternative some of our Sterling Ranch clients have ). Instead see if you can go vertical!

You don’t necessarily have to go super high to go vertical. Check out the cool backyard i the picture above from a listing by Amy Atkinson. The homeowner didn’t go vertical – as in 10 feet up, which you can achieve with a pergola or other structure. Instead, these wispy grass plants pop this cool backyard with tons of green by going up 3 vertical feet.

Lots of green ... but no grass

Speaking of pergolas, check out this green, vibrant yard outside a home from Kailee Ackerman here at Focus.

"I'm impressed with how lush and green this backyard is," Kailee told me, and she's right.

What a lovely way of taking a more typical patio area with no green and turning it into something special.

De-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter (in other words, it’s all got to go!)

This yard has been de-cluttered - but there's still more that can be done!

This is both a listing tip, as well as a feng shui tip. Especially if you have a smaller yard, take a long look at what you’re storing in and around the yard. If your yard has patio chairs, old flower pots, multiple hoses, kids’ toys, and more (like mine)?  It’s got to go, especially if you’re thinking about selling your home! 

Treat your yard like you would one of your rooms.  If you’re pondering whether something should be outside, take it away.  Shoot for no more than 1-2 miscellaneous objects that are sitting on the ground other than your furniture.  For example, in the picture above I’d recommend that the flower pots, lawnmower, and storage unit all go into the garage.

My quick tip on how to de-clutter?  Take EVERYTHING you possibly can out of the yard.  Empty it.  Then pause on what you really need, and if you must, take the affirmative step of re-placing the item.

So there you have it, friends! If you're curious how Sterling Ranch home sales are performing these days, be sure to check out our recent article "But really ... how's Sterling Ranch real estate doing?"

If you'd like to chat more about Sterling Ranch, Littleton, or Denver metro real estate, shoot me a note at Don't forget we're a full service brokerage that lists homes for 1.5% with professional photos, a 3D digital model, staging consultations, inspection assistance, MLS and Zillow and major website listings, Instagram ads, and much more.

We'd love to help you!


Mariel Ross is a realtor who specializes in helping clients budget for, design, and build their dream homes or find the resale of their dreams. At Focus Real Estate we've helped clients build hundreds of new homes around Denver with Lennar, Parkwood, Richmond, Wonderland, Shea, and many other builders. We've also listed many beautiful homes and represented buyers throughout Denver on resales.

Learn more about what I do here, as well as the cost. In short, if you build in Sterling Ranch or just about every other new neighborhood in Denver your builder pays your realtor, not you, so our services are at no additional cost to you - which is how we're able to offer our free New Home Package.

If you'd like to chat, shoot me a note at and be sure to "Like" the Roundup on Facebook.

The Sterling Ranch Roundup is powered by Focus Real Estate. We also list and sell homes around Denver for a 1.5% listing .


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