It’s important to recognize that small gardens hold much more potential than one might initially think. Regardless of whether you’re working with a slender backyard behind an older home, a restricted outdoor space lacking seclusion, or a neglected garden located at the rear of a townhouse, the opportunities for transformation are limitless. Therefore, don’t dismiss your small outdoor area just yet. As with the proper design, it has the potential to become an extraordinary garden.
The size of your outdoor space doesn’t have to limit either aesthetics or functionality. However, it’s crucial to prioritize your preferences to ensure that every inch of the area is utilized to the fullest.
Are you fond of hosting gatherings for your loved ones?
Outdoor entertaining can create a more relaxed atmosphere for both hosts and guests. However, it can be challenging to determine how many people your outdoor space can accommodate. Do you need space for an intimate lunch for two, a sit-down dinner for eight, or an informal BBQ for twelve or more?
To make the most of small spaces, it’s important to incorporate versatile elements that can serve more than one function.
- Folding bistro tables and chairs are lightweight and easy to store when not in use, making setup a breeze.
- Extending patio tables offer versatility and can accommodate varying numbers of guests.
- A sturdy low table can serve as an occasional ottoman or stool with the addition of a padded cushion.
- Capped retaining walls and raised beds can serve a dual purpose as seating areas if they are at a comfortable height of around 17″ and are softened with cushions or a folded blanket.
- Bench seating at a rectangular patio table can seat more people than individual seats, making it ideal for families with small children.
- Instead of a traditional wood-burning fire pit, consider a gas fire table which can serve as a beautiful focal point even when not in use and can double up as a coffee table with its solid rim. This option saves space and is aesthetically pleasing.
What are your desired plants or crops?
Do you plan to cultivate cut flowers, your preferred herbs, or some vegetables in your limited space? It is crucial to identify which plants are worth growing and which ones are better to purchase from a local farmer’s market, especially when space is limited. Consider growing flowers and produce that are typically expensive, difficult to find, have a brief shelf life, or those that you use frequently. This approach will help you make the most of your small garden.
Is there a shortage of planting space in the ground?
While container gardens offer an uncomplicated remedy for limited in-ground growing, it’s essential to ponder over their dimensions and form.
- To maximize space on your deck or patio, avoid using wide, round containers and instead choose rectangular, oval, or elliptical shapes that can sit closer to walls or railings.
- Rather than cluttering the ground with many small pots, opt for a single large, tall container that’s easier to water and has a more significant impact.
- You can enhance the flexibility of your container garden by adding saucers with wheels underneath. This enables you to move them around to create a room divider on a long deck, a cozy reading nook on an exposed patio, or follow the sun’s pattern during the growing season.
- Seek out compact plant varieties: Opt for plants that won’t overcrowd your space, but don’t hesitate to incorporate moderate-sized or columnar trees to achieve the desired scale.
- Think creatively: Why not try vertical gardens, railing planters, or hanging baskets for strawberries? A living wall/vertical succulent garden is an excellent example.
- Establish a foliage foundation: Use plants with intriguing, colorful leaves before adding flowering plants.
- Maximize every inch of space: Focus on high-value trees, shrubs, and perennials that provide multiple seasons of interest with lovely leaves, seasonal blooms, unique textures, colorful bark, or exceptional fall color.
- Ensure privacy: While you may not have enough room for large evergreen trees or shrubs, consider using one of many columnar varieties that provide height without width. Alternatively, a row of narrow, columnar, deciduous trees or shrubs might suffice for seasonal screening. Climbers, such as jasmine or annual vines, can also be grown on a vertical trellis for a well-behaved solution.
- Consider eliminating the lawn: Does your lawn chop up your space visually? Would it make more sense to expand the patio? Choose outdoor furniture thoughtfully. Instead of deep armchairs with broad armrests, opt for sleeker profiles.
- Introduce a water feature: Water features are always a lovely addition to any garden. If a pond and waterfall are not practical, a simple recirculating wall fountain or bubbling tabletop pot might do the trick.
- Establish order: A tidy design brings an orderly feel to the garden. Rectilinear design can define spaces, while organic curves can soften awkward angles.
- Use diagonal lines: Since most suburban gardens are wide but shallow, a straight-on view often emphasizes the shortest dimension. To create the impression of a larger space, shift the patio, planting beds, and sightlines 45 degrees to align with the diagonal axis.
- Keep the color scheme simple: Two or three colors in various shades, along with green, will be less visually busy than a rainbow explosion.
- Borrow views from beyond your boundaries: Frame a distant tree, mountain, or unique architectural feature to create the illusion of more depth.
- Add outdoor lighting: Add drama and mystery while extending the garden’s use into the evening.
By taking these designer’s tips into consideration, you can create a beautiful and functional small garden that reflects your personal style and meets your needs.