16 Small-Space Landscaping Ideas to Make the Most of Your Plot

fire pit area view of layered deck landscaping
Photo: Ed Gohlich

Just because you have a smaller plot doesn't mean you can't make it stand out. Maximize the impact of a minimal landscape with these small garden, front yard, and backyard garden ideas.

01 of 16

Create a View

wood deck seating area with raised garden beds
Kritsada Panichgul

A wooden pergola gives this small garden landscaping an elevated feel. Arbors and pergolas are classic small yard landscaping ideas and great ways to frame a view, but you can do the same with shrubs, small trees, or even pieces of garden art.

02 of 16

Create Small Backyard Zones

fire pit area view of layered deck landscaping
Ed Gohlich

This small yard landscaping idea may seem contradictory, but we promise it works: Break up open areas of a small space so it feels larger. Here, different furniture groupings and paths divide a small backyard landscape into attractive and restful seating nooks.

03 of 16

Make It Cozy

seating area along white fence flower garden
Mike Jensen

It may seem counterintuitive, but boosting intimacy actually helps small backyards. Why? Creating escape nooks for reading and resting divides up a space and creates specific zones. Here, a mid-height fence and lots of pretty plantings help to screen out the view beyond.

04 of 16

Use Color Effectively

front home exterior flower garden landscaping
Richard Felber

This small yard landscaping idea adds function and beauty: Place bold, bright flowers right in view. Because your eye automatically goes to them, the rest of the small garden landscape will seem to recede and feel larger.

05 of 16

Use the Power of Perspective

flower garden backyard fire pit landscaping
Sue Sikorski

Long, straight lines trick your mind into thinking a small garden landscape is bigger than it really is. To take full advantage of this illusion, subtly slant the far ends of the lines toward one another and create a focal point that joins them together. In this small backyard idea, a fence does the job and is enhanced by repeating rows of flowers and a pergola.

06 of 16

Boost the Intrigue

backyard patio area with outside furniture
Bob Stefko

There's no better way to up the visual interest of a landscape than mixing it up with unexpected elements. Here, the mixture of paving materials, lawn, hardscape, and container plantings adds enough flair to a small backyard garden that you hardly notice the landscape's size.

07 of 16

Create Unique Small-Space Vertical Features

brick patio with table and landscaping
Bob Stefko

Create a truly original space by implementing a series of small space landscape garden hacks. Espaliering is one trick that isn't as complicated as it looks (and it's elegant, too). Use it to dress up a plain shed or house wall in a small backyard.

08 of 16

Borrow Views for Your Small Backyard

flower garden yard landscaping
Peter Krumhardt

If your neighbors aren't into gardening like you are, take advantage of their nearby spaces to create the feel of a vista in your small garden landscape. This small backyard is packed with color and texture—but the open views and soaring trees next door keep it from feeling cramped.

09 of 16

Make Your Small Backyard a Destination

above view of fire pit back yard seating
Bob Stefko

The highlight of this small garden landscape is the fire pit with welcoming chairs. Placing the seating spot just next to a paved patio, as well as creating a secondary seating spot near the fence, helps the small backyard feel more spacious.

10 of 16

Take Advantage of Foliage and Texture

brick patio garden plants and trees
Emily Minton-Redfield

Big, bold tropical plants create a lush feel, especially in a small landscape. Their large leaves can manipulate the scale of a small backyard to help it feel larger, and their unusual shape helps to boost the "cool" factor of the area.

11 of 16

Keep Plants Vertical

flower garden horizontal landscaping
Lynn Karlin

Horizontal space can't be taken for granted in a small backyard. That's why it's good to look for shrubs and trees that grow up, not out. Try dwarf varieties if you don't have enough room for regular-sized plants, as well as more columnar evergreens (bonus—they brighten up long winter days, too).

12 of 16

Create a Small Backyard Focal Point

outside wood chair and table with fence planter
Jay Wilde

A focal point is a great small yard landscaping idea to draw attention and help outdoor spaces feel put together. Here, a simple seating area and vertical planter take centerstage and offer a restful nook.

13 of 16

Conquer Dead Landscape Nooks

home exterior corner garden with flowers
William N. Hopkins

In a small-space backyard, it's easy to ignore the areas that are out of view—such as the corners of the house or garage. Turn those spots into unexpected showstoppers, with this small backyard idea: Add a centerpiece tree, an oversize container, and flowers and foliage plants for interest.

14 of 16

Skip the Lawn

front home garden landscaping
Stephen Cridland

If you really love plants, don't need a lawn, and are limited by a small backyard, consider this idea: Get rid of the grass. Stagger your plants for height and include walking paths so you can tend things in the center of the space. Remember: Our homes and yards should reflect the things we love.

15 of 16

Raise Planting Areas

raised garden beds landscaping steps
Laurie Black

You can give your small backyard a sense of height by raising up plantings, even if only by a foot or two. Try retaining walls or more formal raised beds integrated with other hardscape features, such as stairs. This will help direct the eye up and create a pretty distraction from the lack of square footage.

16 of 16

Streamline a Small Backyard

brick path along landscaping to home deck
Kritsada Panichgul

Reducing visual clutter is another small backyard landscaping idea that cultivates a sense of calm and order. The easiest way to do that is to maintain a routine and devotion to either just a few plants or just one color. Here, hydrangeas and boxwood line a path to a small deck in the backyard.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles