Small Garden Ideas

A small garden space doesn't mean you can't have the garden you want. Here are our favorite ideas for small garden ideas, including small patio garden ideas, to help you maximize your space!

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  • 1 of 17

    Create an Outdoor Room

    Turn a tiny patio into a gorgeous outdoor room by adding a freestanding pergola. Here, a small wooden pergola was constructed over a gravel patio and enhanced with a teak seating arrangement. The pergola creates a sense of enclosure and makes the patio seem a lot larger then it actually is.

  • 2 of 17

    Go Gravel

    Crushed brick or gravel is a beautiful and low-maintenance paving option for small gardens. It's also easier to use and less expensive than brick or flagstone. Just be sure to spread a layer of landscape fabric underneath the gravel to keep weeds from popping through. On this California hillside, the gravel also allows rainfall to percolate through to the soil instead of running off down the hillside.

  • 3 of 17

    Capitalize on Trees

    If you have large trees with bare spots underneath them, why not put the barren ground to use by creating an outdoor living space? In this small garden, several trees made growing a lawn or flower border impossible. So, the homeowners paved part of the area with flagstone and added a table and chairs.


    Small Garden Tip: When you are working under a large tree, be sure to leave any exposed roots alone and never raise the grade around the base of the tree.

  • 4 of 17

    Add a Pond

    You don't need a huge backyard to have a water garden. In fact, installing a water garden is a great way to handle low or wet spots in your garden. Just dig out the area, add a pond liner and pump, and you're on your way. Even a tiny oasis will attract a wide range of colorful butterflies and birds. In this garden, Water Snowflake, Nymphoides humboldtiana, a small relative of water lily, provides color in tight quarters.

  • 5 of 17

    Double Your Pleasure

    Get twice the flowers and vegetables in your small garden by adding a trellis or low fence behind every planting bed. That way, you can grow vine crops vertically so they don’t sprawl over their plant neighbors. In this narrow garden bed, a trio of rustic wooden trellises support flowering vines at the back of the perennial border.

  • 6 of 17

    Trees for Small Spaces

    A small yard doesn't mean you can't have a gorgeous tree. See these shade-providing beauties that can squeeze into small spots.

  • 7 of 17

    Welcome Wildlife

    Even a small garden can become a haven for birds and butterflies when you choose flowers they prefer. For example, this square bed is packed with bird and butterfly favorites, such as black-eyed Susan and phlox. A bird feeder and birdhouse add to the garden's wildlife-friendly features.

  • 8 of 17

    Add a Mowing Strip

    Keeping turf grass from encroaching in your garden beds is a lot easier when you install a mowing strip at the border's edge. This mowing strip was specially designed to keep weeds at bay and act as a low-maintenance garden path. It also provides easy, mud-free access to the garden for wheelbarrows, mowers, and other equipment.

  • 9 of 17

    Eliminate Lawns

    Put every square inch of your backyard to work by removing the sod to create useable outdoor living spaces. In this small courtyard, the turf was torn up and replaced by a gravel base that supports a gorgeous dining table and flower-filled containers. Plus, the homeowners have a lot more time to enjoy the space because they no longer have to mow.

  • 10 of 17

    Add Drama

    Give small gardens a big boost of style by adding an oversize gate or arbor at one end to act as a focal point. It will draw the eye in and make the space seem larger. Here, a large-scale ornamental entry arbor gives this tiny side yard some visual heft. Plus, it supports a crown of climbing roses. White lilies in the center bed mirror the white roses and arbor.

  • 11 of 17

    Curve Walkways

    One way to create a sense of space in a small garden is to put some curves into your garden paths. A slightly meandering walkway is always better than a straight path because it will give visitors the sense that they are traveling through a large landscape. Just be sure to make your path wide enough for two people to walk side by side comfortably. This curved concrete path is especially appealing because a ribbon of tile separates each slab of concrete.

  • 12 of 17

    Rely on Pots

    Enjoy your own corner of paradise by packing your small garden with pots and planters overflowing with flowers and fragrant herbs. In this luxurious backyard, pots of geranium (scented and standard) and marguerite daisy provide the bulk of color surrounding a welcoming teak bench. A large terra-cotta bowl acts as a reflecting pool and birdbath.

  • 13 of 17

    Consider the Seasons

    When you plan your garden, think about how it’s going to look in all four seasons. Many gardens look terrific in the spring and early summer, but by fall they fade. Choose perennials and annuals that offer late-season color and shrubs and trees that bear colorful berries or interesting bark in the winter. In this tiny front border, a bevy of tulips provide plenty of spring color. After they fade, they are replaced with summer beauties such as geranium and verbena. Holly shrubs, which flank the front door, develop showy red berries that keep the landscape looking good after frost.

  • 14 of 17

    Rehab a Shed

    If the view from your backyard faces an ugly shed or garage, think about incorporating it into your garden design. On this narrow lot, the only view was of the homeowner's ugly garage. But with a can of paint and an inexpensive French door, they turned an ugly duckling into a swan. In fact, they were so happy with the transformation, they added a Mediterranean style patio right up against the new garage doors.

  • 15 of 17

    Color Your World

    Shady backyards are a great place to spend a hot summer afternoon, but too often, they can be a bit dark and dull. Brighten the view with colorful pillows, fabrics, outdoor rugs, and pots in a variety of colors and patterns. This shady deck is now a colorful spot for family fun.

  • 16 of 17

    Camouflage Trash

    Nothing ruins the view in a small backyard faster than a set of garbage cans blown over in the wind. Instead of having your garbage in plain sight, build a wooden surround to keep them contained. Here, a set of stylish wooden panels camouflages the homeowners garbage with a little space left over for bags of potting soil and extra garden tools. When the gate panel is closed, everything is completely hidden.

  • Next Slideshow Outdoor Plants You Can't Kill

    Outdoor Plants You Can't Kill

    Whether you're planting your first-ever seeds or you're a gardening mogul, seeing your hard work go to waste when your plants die is no fun. We've put together a guide of easy-to-grow plants that can withstand almost any condition.
    Begin Slideshow »
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