If you love to garden and have a large property, that’s just great. For most of us, though, the options are more restricted. Even if your backyard is truly tiny, believe us when we say there’s a garden just waiting to emerge. Small gardens have special appeal – in fact, many home owners use them to divide expansive yards into a series of more intimate outdoor “rooms.”
Even a petite garden can:
- Significantly expand living and entertaining space, across seasons and even year-round
- Provide a sanctuary for quiet contemplation or simply a warm sit in the sun
- Surround you with an ever-changing panoply of colors and textures and scents
- Bring out your inner expressionist
You can have whatever you want
Just less of it. Or a scaled-down version of it. For instance, what if you’re pining for a tree? You can grow an exquisite Japanese maple in a container. These multi-season beauties are compact in size, and the selection of varieties is amazing.
Or pick a fig. If you don’t like the fruit you can give it to some other lucky person, but figs bring your garden wonderfully interesting leaves and unusual pale bark and branching that provide striking visual interest in winter.
Smaller trees are nice because their comparative height makes your small garden seem larger without creating a total eclipse of the space available. To draw the eye downward and around your garden, use smaller shrubs and pint-sized evergreens, perennials, and annuals. Don’t forget succulents, which are powerhouses when it comes to small-space gardening.
Choose your favorites, but consider three things:
- Some plants require more work than others – only you know how you feel about this.
- Too many different things will make your small space look cluttered instead of inviting. (The eye has to have someplace to land.) For greater serenity, stick to a few colors and plant them in groups for a stronger visual impact. Think waves or blocks of color, not rigid rows.
- Focus on choices that offer multi-season or year-round interest to make the most of your space.
You can grow a kitchen garden in just 16 square feet. Or you can mix edible plants in with other plants. Think speckled lettuces, gray-green eggplants with their purple fruits, peppers of all colors. An espaliered tomato along a wall (where it will appreciate the extra warmth).
Built-in planters can help shape your space, both vertically and horizontally. Make them boxy for a modernistic look, or make them curvy to soften the lines and draw the eye around your garden, making it feel more spacious. Or use portable containers you can rearrange when the mood strikes.
A small patio sets the stage for a table, seating, and your grill. A fire pit adds inviting coziness. If you don’t have a fence, a vine-covered lattice will give you privacy.
What pulls it all together? Grass!
Artificial grass, of course. Why mar your small-but-gorgeous garden with a lawn you can be sure will be moody and hard to mow. Faux grass is always gorgeous and toe-wiggling fluffy, no matter where you plant it. It can be any size or shape you want. And it’s virtually maintenance-free. It’s dog-friendly, too, so don’t let your dog be an excuse not to embrace the small garden in your backyard.
Inspiring, isn’t it?
If you need design ideas, it’s easy to find examples of small gardens online. This lengthy Sunset article covers a lot of ground, so to speak, with photos and descriptions of gardens to solve any space challenge and fit any taste.
No matter how small your backyard, embracing that space is the first step toward transforming it into a garden you love. You’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.