4 Landscaping Ideas for a Small Backyard
Sometimes, good things really do come in small packages. Having a compact yard means less maintenance and lower plant costs, and it doesn’t necessarily require you to sacrifice your vision of the perfect yard.
In fact, Cassy Aoyagi, president of Los Angeles-based firm FormLA Landscaping, urges homeowners to look at the positive side of having a small backyard.
“People often ask how to make the most of a petite outdoor space,” she says. “Keep in mind that your small space has advantages! Outdoor living spaces should have a coziness factor, which is much easier to create in a smaller space.”
So, yes, having a postage stamp of a yard can be a good thing, if you know what to do with it. Here’s how to approach landscaping your small space.
Maximize Square Footage
Don’t waste precious space with oversized chaise lounges or Adirondack chairs with big footprints. Aoyagi suggests building custom seating to suit your yard’s specific needs.
“Built-in seating can define small spaces and even be used to claim otherwise unusable space,” she says. A contractor can create bench seating against walls or fences, giving you and your guests a place to hang out and enjoy the yard while leaving most of the space free for greenery and flowers.
Your house itself can be a part of your landscaping plans, too, says Desiree Thomson, expert gardener at Gardening Services London. “Window boxes not only provide you with additional room for growing, but also beautify any part of your home. In window boxes, you can grow everything from flowers to herbs and vegetables,” she says. “Even if you have zero outdoor space, window boxes are the perfect solution to give your home a bit of greenery and let you enjoy gardening.”
Be Strategic About Layout
You have lots of landscaping options to consider, even if space is tight.
For instance, you can plant grass in the middle of the yard and use flowers and shrubs as a border. But because having a small patch of grass is almost more trouble than it’s worth (do you really want to pull out the mower every week?), many homeowners opt to devote their small yards entirely to other plants. How you lay out your chosen plants can have a big impact on how spacious your yard feels.
Design on a diagonal, suggests Theodore Beasley, a professional landscaper at Landscaping London. “A diagonal pattern visually elongates dimensions and makes tiny spaces look expansive,” he says. “Paving stones and tiles laid in a classic diagonal or herringbone pattern – even better if extended from the ground to the walls of a deck or a patio – will draw the eye across the space, making it appear larger.”
He also suggests bringing levels and layers to your yard to create visual interest and fit more plants and decor into the space. “Raised decks, walls and plantings easily break up the mundane and liven up a dull rectangular plot,” Beasley says. “With different spatial and textural effects, a small space has a more diversified appeal and won’t look cluttered or crowded if you decide to incorporate various elements.”