Having a backyard costs money. Not only do you pay to own that space, but you also have to shell out for upkeep and maintenance. Regardless, your little plot of land could actually be the answer to your financial woes. Don’t just spend money on your yard — make some money with it. Here are several clever ways to monetize your outdoor space.
Build a tiny rental house
Due to the housing crunch in major metropolitan areas, cities around the United States are relaxing zoning codes or creating new housing laws to deal with the shortage of rental properties. In Los Angeles, it is now legal to turn your garage into an apartment or build a “granny flat” in your backyard. Given that the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles in July 2017 was $2,209, according to Rent Jungle, converting an existing outdoor building into a living space, or even building one from scratch, is a real estate investment worth consideration.
Turn your property into a private campground
Do you live within walking distance of a convention center, major hospital, or historic center? My friend MaryAnn has been renting out tricked-out vintage trailers in her backyard since before online rentals were even a thing. (See also: 5 Easy Ways to Make Good Money From Airbnb)
But even if you don’t have a prefab shelter, don’t let that stop you. If you live close to a natural wonder, a killer surf break, or a unique trailhead, you can rent out your backyard as a private campground to backpackers and glampers via Hip Camp.
Sell your surplus backyard produce
I have a gigantic Mission fig tree in my backyard. Although I personally hate figs, I love this tree. Every year, I make several hundred dollars selling ripe figs and my award-winning fig jam to my neighbors, from the comfort of my front porch. People will pay a premium for organic, seasonal produce, especially rare varieties that are hard to find in stores.
Sell your trees
My neighbor just chopped down the 70-year-old Canary Island date palm tree in his front yard because he was tired of cleaning up palm fronds. Alas, he could have saved himself the hard work and made hundreds of dollars selling this tree to a commercial landscaper. Before you chop mature trees, check with your local arborist about your tree’s potential resale value.
Raise bees or rent your yard to a beekeeper
As a backyard beekeeper, I am on track to make about $4,000 this year selling honey to my urban neighbors and selling bees to local farmers. And, because Los Angeles limits me to keeping just two hives on my property, I am always on the hunt for people willing to keep two hives on their property in exchange for a percentage of the honey harvest.
Keep city chickens
In an effort to keep food waste out of the landfill, the city of Austin, Texas is offering a $75 rebate to Austinites who keep backyard chickens.
Beyond the green street cred you will gain from chicken-based recycling, raising your own chickens comes with a host of benefits. The chickens can eat your food scraps and create healthy soil, all while giving you free eggs. That said, be sure to do the math before investing in a backyard chicken empire. In urban areas like Los Angeles, where fresh, organic chickens sell for $20 and no one blinks an eye at paying $1 per backyard egg, it’s easier to make money raising chickens than in some other places. Check your local poultry economy to accurately assess your return on investment.
Grow vegetable seedlings
Lora, my gardener, discovered that she could make more profit growing and selling heirloom vegetable seedlings (with less effort) than she could by growing landscaping plants. Heirloom vegetable seeds cost a few bucks per package, but she sells seedlings for $1 each at her the local farmers market a — 1,400 percent markup!
Sell your garden space or expertise
Most community gardens are on the lottery system. Only a fraction of the people who want to grow their own food have access to arable land. If you have space to spare in your backyard, try renting out your land to local greenthumbs.
If you’re creative with your own garden and landscaping, you might be able to market that expertise. My friend Judy accidentally launched her career as a garden designer after fixing up her own backyard.
Offer your yard as a wedding and party venue
Is your garden or farmland picturesque? Rustic weddings are all the rage these days. Connect with local wedding and event planners in your area to find out how much you can make renting out your pristine lawn or barn.