With property sizes getting smaller nowadays, homeowners are faced with a new challenge of creating a functional and beautiful outdoor retreat with very limited square footage. While a sprawling backyard might seem wonderful, there are definitely advantages to having a smaller outdoor space. With the right design, a small garden will be lower maintenance than a larger backyard. It also requires less plant and hardscape materials to achieve the look you want, which means you can create the design with a lower budget. It’s also a great space to be creative, as even the smallest additions can have a big impact with limited space.  Here are some ideas to turn your postage stamp yard into a welcoming retreat.

Think Vertical!

One way to create the illusion of space is to go upwards through vertical landscaping. Adding features like living walls, climbing vines and columnar trees and shrubs force the eye to take height into account and help to soften hard surfaces like fences and walls.  

You can also add hanging planters on a bare fence or below the kitchen window to maximize growing space and add visual interest. Espaliered and columnar fruit trees take very little space and can be grown next to the fences or containers while giving you delicious fruit as well!

Think Double-duty!

When space is at a premium, make sure what you have is working hard for you. Incorporate multi-purpose furniture pieces such as bench-planters, a bar counter with storage cabinets, or built-in seating that also serves as a planter or retaining wall. Low-center tables can be customized to open up for a fire pit or a sandbox. Narrow pathways that open to slightly larger sections can double as both a small patio space and as a way to get to different areas in the garden.  

Choose outdoor furniture that looks lightweight and airy, such as wrought iron or pieces with streamlined forms. Those that stack or fold while not in use are also great options to save on precious space in a small garden. You can also customize pieces like half-tables that can be placed against a wall or corner to maximize every bit of real estate you have.

Think Zones!

While it seems counter-intuitive to divide a small space, doing so can create a sense of mystery and trick the mind to think that there is more to see around the corner. Segmenting your space into “garden rooms” can actually make it seem larger than it is because we can’t see everything all at once. If we are able to scan the area as a whole, we quickly realize how little square footage there actually is.

Define the function of the space by thinking of the ways you’d like to use it. Do you need an area for entertaining and another for vegetable gardening? Do you want a water feature or a children’s play area? Divide and conquer!

Think Focal points!

You can change the perception of less space by giving the eyes strong focal points to land on. With small spaces, try to create mini-focal points or views for visual interest. They can be pots with bold colors, garden artworks, birdbaths, or even specimen plants with bold foliage. These elements all make you stop, go slowly through the landscape, and take note of all the wonderful details.

Think Simple and Harmonious!

Less is more when it comes to small yards. Select a limited plant palette.  Create harmony through repetition, be it through the type of plant, flower color, or hardscape materials. When there is only a small amount of space available, it’s easy for the eye to get overwhelmed and your space to appear cluttered. While variety is the spice of life, in this case, choosing a unifying element, such as the main color scheme, helps to create unity in the space.

With a little thoughtful planning, your small garden can be your ‘perfectly sized’ garden to enjoy for years to come. Additionally, if you plan to sell your house in the future, the right design can help turn a seemingly negative selling feature into a positive asset for your property.   At Blessing Landscapes, we can help with the smallest details and make these ideas into reality. Give us a call at 503-284-3557 to jumpstart your yard transformation into a charming little hideaway designed for you and your family.