Photo: Hannamariah (Shutterstock)
Planning a garden or patio that will be both functional and beautiful can be difficult if your yard is small. Creating an outdoor space that feels airy and expansive might seem impossible if you are pressed for space, but there are a number of things you can do to achieve a larger feel even if your square footage is limited. Here are six strategies to give your smaller yard a spacious vibe.
Layering your plants can create a feeling of depth while taking up less space. Plant them in layers by size, going from the shortest in front to the tallest in back. Place an herbaceous border around a path or patio, and use a trellis to create height. A trellis can also form an archway or a screen to blend away neighboring structures, or plant hedges to serve as a barrier between adjoining yards.
Let the light in
Allowing light into your garden is a must if you want it to feel less crowded. Make sure not to install tall plants or trellises on every side of the yard, lest they block too much natural light. Prune trees and shrubs regularly to keep the sunlight streaming in. If you don’t always get a lot of sun, placing string lights, solar path lights, and other small twinkles here and there will help keep the space feeling bigger even at night.
Keep furniture to scale
Choose and arrange seating so it fits the scale of your space. If your yard is small, using smaller furniture and sparingly adding tables and other fixtures will keep it from looking cluttered. Approach your outdoor furniture planning with a minimalist perspective in min, keeping only the items you use and love the most.
Keep plants to scale
Smaller versions of larger plants will give your yard the same character without taking up as much space. Consider junior versions of evergreen shrubs like dwarf spruce or bird’s nest spruce; these options give you the vivid greens and the general shape of a shrub, but are much smaller than their full-sized counterparts. (Hydrangeas and blueberry bushes also come in tiny sizes.)
Add lots of texture
Adding some texture to your yard is a good way to make it feel larger, even if you only have a small space for textured plants. Choosing crevice-loving species like stonecrop or Auburieta (Cascade blue) for stone walls, stepping stone pathways, or any rocky area can help to add dimension to your space. Plants like Dichondra (silver falls) or running cedar will likewise creep or cascade over edges and spread their textured leaves. You can also use gravel for pathways or as a garden bed base to keep surfaces looking softer and more textured.
Employ lots of curves and soft shapes
Keeping softer shapes and curves in mind when designing plantscapes and even choosing furniture and fixtures can help your smaller space feel larger. Use sculpted hedges like topiaries to create curved lines and select plants that have natural curved features, like hostas. Building a curved pathway or growing long, trailing plants so that they form some aerial curves will also help—and rounder shapes will also help to keep your plants looking layered instead of flat.