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Here's How One Couple Turned A Tiny Parking Pad Into A Stunning City Oasis (And How You Can, Too)

Five simple changes made this tiny city concrete parking pad into an outdoor haven for tiny tots and grown-ups alike.

Outdoor patio with table and chairs

Photo, Sian Richards

Mandy Milks’ postage-stamp-sized city backyard used to be a crumbling cement parking pad. Then the Today’s Parent‘s DIY editor turned it into an outdoor haven, suitable for tiny tots and grown-ups alike. Here’s how.

Bring the inside out with an outdoor rug

This dip in the yard is a drainage basin that Milks covers with a huge outdoor rug to make it feel like an extension of the indoors. It’s also a great area for her daughters, ages 2 and 5, to play.

Kids play in outdoor patio

Photo, Sian Richards

Look for dual-function accessories

Milks made these message boards by painting the backs of picture frames with outdoor chalkboard paint. During the day, they’re set up as an art centre to occupy the girls. In the evening, Milks turns them into outdoor menus when guests come over. She uses a fold-away tray for an outdoor bar.

Chalkboards serve as outdoor menu

Photo, Sian Richards

Create privacy and shade on a budget

Milks sewed together two Ikea canopies (only $30 each!) to create a sail that protects from the sun and creates privacy — far cheaper than installing a custom pergola. The canopies come with springs and cord, so you can attach them to your fence with a nail. If you’re low on space, this is a great alternative to an umbrella.

Find the beauty in a yard with no grass

The back gates of Milks’ backyard opens up to a laneway, turning the yard into a parking pad. Though Milks and her husband don’t park their car here, they decided to keep the parking pad for added house value. They replaced the cement with brick in a herringbone pattern, which mimics a large rug under the dining table. When they’re not using the table for dinner parties, they move it to create extra play space, complete with a kiddie pool.

Outdoor patio dinner party

Photo, Sian Richards

Add hits of green

Without grass, the yard needed a hit of green. With the help of designer Nicolette Linton, Milks lined the entire yard with easy-to-care-for plants like Russian sage and juniper trees, which give the space an English-garden feel.

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