14 Smart Small-Space Landscaping Ideas
Many of today’s newer homes come with smaller yards. And condos and townhomes often have little or no gardening space at all. Fear not. Here are 14 landscaping ideas for even the smallest outdoor spaces.
Leave Some Space
When considering landscaping ideas for a small yard, remember to leave space. It’s easy to overcrowd things and inadvertently create a claustrophobic effect. Here, a seating area has a clear view to the garden, courtesy of a small patch of grass and some unobstructed hardscaping.
Create a layered landscape—just like nature does. Think of a forest with low groundcovers, ferns, shade-tolerant understory shrubs and trees, and the tall overhead trees. You can do the same thing on a small scale, as seen here with the groundcovers, bulbs and crevice plants. It’s a good way to maximize space. And it looks good, too!
Walls and Fences
Sure, you want the privacy. But your landscaping ideas can also involve surrounding structures such as walls and fences. Vines are the perfect answer—just be sure to pick one that is not invasive or a garden thug. Check with your local cooperative extension service for recommendations for your area.
A popular trend is to garden vertically. There are many off-the-shelf products that allow you to grow plants vertically, such as the wall planters seen here. Or you can create something yourself. Either way it creates gardening space out of thin air.
Speaking of landscaping ideas, here’s a clever way to maximize space with DIY hanging planters made from plastic bottles. Of course, if the style doesn’t suit you, there are plenty of preplanted hanging baskets at the garden center and grocery store.
A more traditional way of maximizing gardening space is with window boxes. Naturally, you can attach them beneath your windows. But other landscaping ideas include placing them on a porch, around the perimeter of a patio, or hanging from a deck railing.
Growers are continually introducing new cultivars with special characteristics. One of those is a dwarf habit. When considering landscaping ideas, you can grow a pine that matures at 1 foot or 80 feet. When you choose the former, you end up with enough space to add companion plants.
While you’re considering size and growth characteristics, think about habit as well. Columnar plants, such as this upright pear cultivar, grow straight up. There’s more room to the side, and more light at the bottom for a greater variety of plants. And yet you still get the blooms and the fruit. Win-win!
Here’s another shape that will help when looking for landscaping ideas for a small yard. You can run trailing plants down the side of a planter, as seen here, or let them trail from the top of a wall. Either way maximizes space and softens a hard surface to help it blend into the landscape.
Crevices are ubiquitous to most gardens, so you might as well make use of them. Sedum and other succulents such as hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum) are perfect for these spots, which are often on the lean and dry side. They make the space prettier and the hard surfaces less imposing.
Along with crevices, most gardens have narrow strips that lack soil and moisture. Rather than fighting the conditions, work with them. One of the landscaping ideas you can implement is to plant some tough, vining groundcovers and let them sprawl over the area. Use ivy in shady areas, succulents in sunny spots. A mulch of gravel is a nice low-maintenance addition that keeps plant foliage clean.
Let’s not forget containers when thinking of landscaping ideas. They’re more popular than ever—and not just because they maximize gardening space. Containers add greatly to a garden’s character. They allow you to show off your favorite plants. And if you coordinate their color and arrange them in odd numbers, you create a dashing focal point.
As you saw earlier, a small lawn can be helpful to a small-space garden because it opens up the area and makes it feel less claustrophobic. Well, if you’re not going to be walking on the lawn all the time, you might consider substituting a groundcover. You not only avoid mowing, you also integrate the area into the landscape. With a groundcover, your lawn becomes the garden.
Bonsai and Miniature Gardens
The smallest yard in the world has room for a garden when the plants are miniaturized. Examples include bonsai, miniature fairy gardens, and terrariums. Although usually kept indoors in cold climates, they can vacation outside for the summer in a protected location where they’re not exposed to too much direct sunlight.