If you don’t have the luxury of a sprawling yard, you may think that you’re out of luck when it comes to beautiful landscaping. But whether you’ve got acres to play with or a few square feet and a postage stamp lawn, there are many ways to create an outdoor living space that fits your lifestyle.
Try these simple landscaping ideas for small yards and you’ll be able to create your own private oasis no matter how much space you have.
Get Creative With Screening
Sometimes a small space can leave you a little too cozy with the neighbors. If you’re tired of looking over the top of your favorite novel into someone else’s kitchen sink, your small yard can benefit from some naturalistic privacy screening.
Where fences can seem a bit too enclosed, a natural wall of bamboo can feel intimate and give the illusion of depth as you catch glimpses of the space beyond. Plus it will create a nice barrier all year long, and grown correctly, it can thrive in a few spare feet of space along the edge of your property.
Work With Texture
When creating landscaping for small yards, use a combination of textural materials for visual interest and differentiation. The smooth surface of a ceramic bubbler beside the craggy texture of a natural stone pathway creates contrast that draws the eye and makes an otherwise small space seem alive and exciting.
Different textures can also be used effectively in different areas of your yard to create “zones” that will help create the illusion of more space. Vary textures from one location to another so it seems as if you have mini-spaces within spaces.
Break It Up
As with textures, you can use colors or architectural materials to create multiple zones within your yard.
It may seem counterintuitive to break up an already small yard into even smaller spaces but creating these smaller points of interest will actually give the illusion of depth. It will also keep the eye and other senses busy. The longer you need to take in all the beauty of the yard, the bigger it seems.
Where a single, uniform space seems to shout out its limitations, a couple of visually unique areas will make your garden grow from one delight to the next.
Even the tiniest of yards still has the blue sky above, so take advantage of all that space and use it wisely.
A tall fence or trellis can be used to differentiate space, create a view or host a vertical flower garden. Pergolas and arbors can be used to frame a view, giving a sense of depth and drawing the eye up toward grander spaces.
Even retaining walls can be used to great effect, allowing you to garden at varying heights, whether you’re fond of petunias or potatoes.
Work With Color
Color is one of those misunderstood elements of landscaping that can work for or against your small yard. Wild explosions of color may seem like fun and you may even think that they add visual interest, but be careful – too much color can actually make your space seem smaller.
A good tip for landscaping in small spaces is to choose one main color to dominate. This will create a primary focal point and let the rest recede into the background – and when you’re working with small spaces, “background” is usually something you’re short of. Creating the illusion of depth through color can help.
And don’t be afraid to go bold. Big, bright colors are great for visual interest and will help to create that sense of depth you’re looking for.
We’ve talked about creating spaces-within-spaces and adding visual interest, but be careful not to overdo it. Think in practical terms – what purpose do you want your space to serve? Whether water or vegetable gardening, relaxing or entertaining, design each area with a purpose.
You may consider creating one area with a bistro table for seating and brunch, another with a pathway for walking among your favorite blooms, perhaps a third for stretching out in the afternoon sun where you won’t be disturbed. You can accomplish all of this in a small yard if you plan the purpose and design around the function of each space.
And remember, “visual interest” is not the same thing as “clutter.” Keep your areas simple and organized, minimize distractions, use color wisely and create simple contrasts of materials and textures that draw the eye but do not overwhelm it.
How’s this for a landscaping idea for your small yard: think big! Just because your space is small doesn’t mean you should skimp on design.
Choose plants with big, bold foliage, which can actually help make your space seem bigger.
Perhaps most importantly, don’t skimp on walkways or patios. You may be tempted to scale them down to be narrower and smaller but that only has the effect of making them feel narrow and small.
Remember, working with a small yard is, in large part, about creating the illusion of space. Small features will simply look small. On the contrary, big, bold features will actually help expand an otherwise small space.
Engage All Your Senses
Space is more than what the eye sees. You can add another dimension to your yard through sound. The bubbling of a water fountain adds an audio dimension to your space the same way that color and texture add visual depth.
Remember what we said about scale, and how “scaling down” can work against you? The same holds true for water features. You may not have the physical space for a pond but you can still have a wonderful fountain or pondless waterfall that will give you the visual interest you need as well as the added audio depth and a soothing, peaceful place to relax.
Use All The Space
Are there spaces you’re overlooking as you gaze out over your tiny landscape? A side yard that has been long-neglected? How about that forgotten space in the corner beside the electric meter?
With a good master plan you may discover useable space where you thought none existed. Every inch of ground, wall, fence and border can become part of the view.
You may even be able to borrow from your neighbors. If you don’t need a screen or fence, your landscape can be designed to flow into the next, using shrubs, trees and flowers to blend seamlessly, making your small yard look naturally expansive.
In a small yard, every detail counts – every inch, every bloom, every stone is more likely to be noticed.
Every size yard can be enjoyed year round, but in a small yard it’s even more important to pay attention to those tiny details that could easily go unnoticed in a larger space.
Choosing the right plant materials for 4-season interest, adding texture, using sound, inviting wildlife – all of these things contribute to the experience. From first frost to last bloom, you can enjoy the space you have to its fullest.
If you want more landscaping ideas for small yards and would like to know how we can turn yours into the perfect outdoor living space, contact us for a consultation and we’ll visit your home so we can put a plan together for you.