Small-Space Landscaping Ideas
Start from the Ground Up
Add style to small spaces by mixing complementary paving materials together. In this tiny backyard, irregular shape bluestone slabs are highlighted with pockets of polished blue-gray river rock. Besides adding color and style, the stones also create a sense of space that wouldn't be possible if it was a solid bluestone patio.
Bolder is sometimes better when it comes to small landscapes. For example, this tiny entry garden became much more impressive after the owners painted a once-drab wall an eye-popping canary-yellow. They also added a green lattice door that gives visitors a peek at the garden beyond.
Grow Some Privacy
Keep privacy in mind as you design your small space. No one wants to have the neighbors (even if they are great people) looking over their shoulder when they relax outdoors. That's why a fence or screen to shield the view is essential. But don't just put up a fence and leave it at that. Grow something over the structure to add color and dimension. Here, English ivy trained in a diamond espalier pattern turns a plain screen into a piece of living art.
Divide and Conquer
The trick to gardening in a small yard is to break up the available space into a series of mini beds rather than trying to squeeze in one large border. In this garden, brick pathways are used to create a series of little perennial borders around each of the brick pillars. The smaller beds also allow easier access for weeding and planting activities.
Create a Destination
When you plan your garden, be sure to add a focal point that also serves as a place to stop and admire your garden. It can be as simple as a comfy chair tucked into a private nook or as elaborate as this arbor and bench combination. Choose plants that are as fragrant as they are colorful so you can enjoy them close up.
Consider Side Yards
If backyard space is limited, give your side yard a makeover. Often neglected, side yards offer tons of potential for outdoor living. Here, for example, a once barren piece of ground was transformed into outdoor living space by using concrete pavers to create a lovely garden path. Then, a mixed planting of perennials and trees were added and mulched with black Japanese river rock.
Just Add Water
Even the smallest landscape will be improved by the mellow sound of trickling water. If you don’t have enough space for a water garden, add a fountain or two in key locations in the yard. Be sure to have an electrical outlet nearby to plug in the fountain. In this slice of a brick courtyard, an ornamental wall-mounted fountain acts as a sparkling focal point.
Imagine sitting in your private courtyard and reaching out to pluck a luscious strawberry or ripe cherry tomato. It’s easy if you include edibles in your garden plans. Here, a simple raised bed was painted white and then packed with a delightful mix of flowers, vegetables, and herbs. All you need is a spot that gets at least six to eight hours of sunshine a day.
Fool the Eye
Terracing is one of the most effective ways to make a small space look larger than it really is. By creating different levels, you’ll feel like you’re stepping into a separate garden with each level. Here, the owners of this narrow backyard created two stone patios, one that’s several steps lower than the other one. The finished product looks twice as big as it did before the renovation.
Pick a Palette
Color plays a huge role when designing small spaces. Your goal should be to pick a palette that pleases you and stick with it. When space is limited, the last thing you want is a hodgepodge of colors fighting for attention. Here, drifts of pink flowers such as yarrow, rose, fuchsia, cosmos, and astilbe, complement the home’s blue door and shutters.
Dress Up Work Spaces
If you don’t have the space to hide potentially messy work spaces, try incorporating them into your landscape design. In this tight backyard, the homeowner opted to keep her potting bench, garden tools, and containers in full view. To keep the area looking great, she chose a stylish potting bench that she decorates with leftover pots and plants.
Stay in Scale
When selecting outdoor furniture for an undersize landscape, look for smaller pieces that are in scale with their surroundings. Don’t try to squeeze a huge sectional into a tight spot or buy oversize chairs that you have to wedge into position. This teak dining set is a good example of furniture that doesn’t swallow the patio. The smaller chairs fit well in the cramped space and they also fold up so you can store them when not needed.
Flank an Entry
Add a double dose of color to small spaces by flanking an entry or garden path with narrow flowerbeds. By pairing thin borders, you’ll be able to create the look of a full-fledged garden in a fraction of the space. This postage stamp-size front yard looks much larger than it actually is because of spring beauties planted on either side of the brick path.
Keep comfort in mind when you choose furniture for your small backyard. No matter how lovely your landscape, no one wants to spend time teetering on an uncomfortable metal chair. Look for pieces with deep seating and wide arms that invite guests to sit and chat a while. Here, teak furniture with thick cushions and pillows encourages long talks.
Even the smallest backyard getaway can become a tropical retreat when you tuck in a few large-leaf jungle natives. Plants, such as banana, bird of Paradise, croton, elephant ear, canna, and palm, love hot weather. It only takes a plant or two to make a big statement for a small yard. Their large leaves also act as a natural privacy screen. In this terraced yard, two banana plants create a hidden retreat for sunbathing.
Rely on Containers
Add color to even the tiniest garden corner with flower-filled pots and planters. Containers are easy to maintain, and you can move them to where you need color the most. Just don't go overboard. You don't want to crowd your space with a multitude of tiny pots that get in your way every time you pull out a chair. In this tiny backyard, small clusters of pots are set well away from the dining area so people can enjoy them without tripping.