The American Backyard Keeps Shrinking – Here’s How To Keep Yours Uncluttered

A recent research by StorageCafe, a nationwide storage space marketplace, looked at the median lot size at a national level and in the country’s top 20 biggest cities by population. The study also looked at how lot sizes and home sizes have evolved over the past 100 years. Nationally, the median lot size is decreasing, and many of the country’s biggest urban hotspots are mirroring this trend.

Also, even in those cases when the median lot size is actually growing, available outdoor space is becoming scarce due to homes becoming increasingly large over the past few decades. In other words, the American backyards are losing space – that’s why it’s so important to keep yours uncluttered. Here’s how things look in the country’s largest cities:

Indianapolis enjoys the largest yards among the country’s top 20 cities, while Philadelphia has the smallest ones

Residents of Indianapolis are privileged when it comes to lot sizes – the median lot in the city stands at almost 9,200 sq. ft., while the median home size is around 1,500 sq. ft. This means that the city’s residents have around 8,000 sq. ft. of outdoor space to use and enjoy. Other cities with large lot sizes are Jacksonville, Austin, Charlotte or Dallas – all those cities have a median lot size of over 8,000 sq. ft.

Residents of cities such as NYC, San Francisco or Washington, DC are not as lucky. The median lot size in all those cities is under 3,000 sq. ft., while the median home size hovers around 1,400-1,500 sq. ft. As a result, available outdoor space around the house varies between 2,000 sq. ft. in NYC and only 1,500 in San Francisco.

The two cities with the smallest lots among the country’s top 20 cities by population are Chicago and Philadelphia. The median lot size in Chicago is around 1,700 sq. ft., while the median home size stands at about 1,500 sq. ft. In Philadelphia, the median home lot is under 1,100 sq. ft., with the median home size at 1,200 sq. ft. Considering the fact that Philadelphia contains many townhouses built on multiple levels, it results that homeowners in the city enjoy a meager 450 sq. ft. of outdoor space.

Another interesting take from the research is the decade-to-decade evolution of both lot sizes and home sizes for the past century. The best decades for large backyards in most cities were the 50s through the 70s and into the 80s – homes built during those years tend to have significantly larger lots compared to more recent decades. Median home sizes, on the other hand, saw a linear and sustained increase in all the cities analyzed.

Regardless of how large – or small – your backyard might be, it’s important that you keep it uncluttered in order to be able to truly enjoy it. Here’s how to declutter your backyard:

1. Define the different areas in your backyard

Most families use the backyards for a variety of purposes: lounging and relaxing, outdoor cooking, playing, for pets and for gardening, to name a few. It’s important to define how you are planning to use your backyard and to create separate areas for separate purposes. If you love grilling and al fresco dining, make sure you reserve enough space in your backyard for this type of activity. Arrange another

corner of the backyard for your children’s playtime – having separate areas for different types of activities makes it easier to keep the backyard tidy and neat.

2. Include plenty of storage

Most of us don’t really consider adding storage to the backyard (other than the garage or a shed if there’s enough space for one). However, it really pays off to have outdoor plastic storage boxes on your patio and in your backyard. You can use them for storing things you don’t want to get wet, like cushions, blankets, toys, and so on. Get some sturdy baskets for items that aren’t affected by rain, such as plastic toys, for example. The idea is to have a place where you can tuck away all the stuff you are using in your backyard on a daily basis.

As for the items you use only occasionally or seasonally – such as a snow blower, power washer, the lawnmower, sports equipment and so on – you can put all that in self storage, instead of allowing them to take over your yard or garage. A 5×10 storage unit is just the right size for holding such items. Find a storage facility close to your home and enjoy the newfound space.

3. Give up on all the stuff you’re not using

From trampolines and playhouses your children outgrew to a hot tub you literally never use and old garden hoses, your backyard probably has stuff that’s only taking up space without adding anything to your enjoyment while outdoors. Make sure you throw away, recycle and donate all those items. The same rule applies to your various pots and planters – keep them around only if you have gorgeous flowers, herbs and veggies growing in them.

4. Keep vegetation under control

Shrubbery, trees, and other plants can easily take over your backyard if you don’t trim and clean them regularly. It’s equally important to get rid of dead vegetation – a composting box will help you with that task, and in return, you’ll be able to use the free, organic fertilizer for your veggies the following year.

5. Ensure your privacy

One major factor for enjoying your uncluttered backyard is having privacy. You can’t really relax if your neighbors see your every move, and vice versa. Make sure you install a tall fence for privacy – it also helps with safety, as it will keep your children and pets, inside the backyard.

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