Part of the joy of having a garden is expressing your love of plants and being outdoors in a peaceful and relaxed setting. But how do you make the most of a limited space? Here are six tips for turning a small garden into a unique and delightful place to spend time.
1. Sketch out a plan
There are number of questions to consider, so you might want a pen and paper. Before driving a shovel into the ground, access the area. Is it square, narrow, rectangular? Is it sunny or shady? Where the sun falls determines what type of plants will grow best.
Next, determine your wish list: Do you like the look of tightly pruned foliage and strong lines and borders or more wild and natural planting? Do your tastes fall somewhere in between? Do you prefer to grow flowers, shrubs, vegetables or some of each? Whatever motif you choose, stick to it. This will keep you from doing unnecessary digging or investing in the wrong plants if you get a sudden shift in inspiration. Keeping to the plan saves you time, energy and money.
2. Create pockets
Bring character to a garden by interspersing it with pockets of plants. Nothing is duller than one filled only with grass. Contrast texture, shape, color and sizes.
- Group together shrubs and flowers, sturdy leaves with wispy, short plants with taller upright ones.
- Border plant beds with timber, river rocks or flagstones.
- Combine pots and containers for a versatile option. Move and reconfigure them depending on the season.
- Keep pot types—clay, glazed, metal—together or mix and match as long as shapes and colors are contrasting and complementary.
- Even number groupings create straight lines and angles, so gather in odd numbers if you’d like to keep the pocket informal.
- Make sure plants in your pockets have the same light and watering requirements. They’ll be easier to take care of.
3. Level up
Creating levels is great way to take advantage of vertical space in a small garden. Place pots on a garden ladder, which can be found at most gardening stores, or make your own. Paint a wooden ladder. Screw boards or plywood into the rungs to make shelves. Position pots on tree stumps, stands and old wooden stools and chairs of differing heights. If you have a trellis, add a hanging plant or two. Too many will chop up the view, making your garden seem smaller.
4. Go for seating
Large pieces of garden furniture will overwhelm a tight space, so opt for a wrought-iron café chair and table or a small bench. Leave pieces of iron furniture distressed and weathered for a rustic feel or apply colorful rustproof paint to give your garden a lively pop. Accent seating with patterned pillows or cushions in water-resistant fabric.
5. Add charming touches
Rusted watering cans, worn gardening shovels and spades positioned at angles on a fence, wall or staked into the ground create whimsy and intrigue. Scour garage sales, second-hand stores, flea markets or your grandmother’s shed. Find a vintage wagon and use it as a plant container, turn a metal fence panel into a trellis. These touches make your garden fun and unpredictable.
6. Make it look bigger
Mirrors create depth inside and outside. Attach one or a group of contrasting shapes and sizes to a fence or wall. Nestle a large mirror with a scrolled frame among shrubbery. It’ll be a visual surprise and create the illusion of space. Circular shapes trick the eye into thinking a space is larger than it is. A rounded path beckons the eye to follow it, giving a small garden a sense of expansiveness. Fool the eyes some more by keeping the scale of containers, pots and pavers on the smaller side. The surrounding areas will appear bigger.
A garden doesn’t have to be large to be beautiful. With a few techniques and personal touches, your garden can be lovely—no matter what its size.