Sometimes it seems hard to live large in a small space, but you don’t have to sacrifice sophistication to live small. A yard or garden of any size can be a relaxing space and escape from stress. It’s all about good design.
Frame it, box it, shape it
One of the best ways to create the illusion of space is creating shapes. Geometric shapes mark boundaries, create spaces and channel focus. A central path can make a short garden seem longer or a square boundary box can create a modern courtyard feel. The combination of lines, angles and simple shapes create a clean, uncluttered look.
Use concrete landscape curbing to create shaped gardens or to edge paths made of pebbles and stones. Creating different texture with raised bed gardens or patios will keep the eyes moving, and create the feeling of space.
Add bamboo for privacy
Small spaces and city living go hand in hand. Even the friendliest of neighbors want privacy sometimes. Everyone needs a peaceful place to relax and reboot, and there's no better place than a garden. Instead of building higher fences, plant bamboo. Bamboo can be grown in strips along a fence or in bunches in containers. Bamboo grows fast, and depending on the type, can grow 20-30 feet tall. Even if you don’t need privacy, bamboo is a great way to provide shade in a small space.
Put a little light on the subject
Turn your small yard into the ultimate outdoor living space, by making a place to dine, grow and relax — any time of day or night.
Create a cafe ambiance by stringing up lights or place eco-friendly solar lamps along paths or in planters. Set up battery-powered lights in lieu of candles - you'll get all the ambience without having to worry about gusts of wind or wax drips. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, set up candle or lanterns. They can be used anywhere, but do keep safety in mind. When hanging candles or setting up torches, make sure they're in a safe area where pets or children won't be harmed.
Creating a garden on a budget can be a challenge. Mirrors are an inexpensive way to add depth and light to your yard or garden. Hang wide or long mirrors along your fence to instantly open your small space. Place mirrors near dining areas to reflect light and create ambience. Use small mirrors to reflect flowers and plants from interesting angles. Set mirrors of different shapes in corners or plant beds to add sculptural elements to your garden.
Any kind of mirror will do, just remember that they will be exposed to the elements. Wood frames can be used outdoors, but should be treated with sealant to prevent warping or rotting. Stone mirrors will resist water and weather better than wood, but may be more expensive. Metal frames are durable, but prone to rusting, so consider spray painting the frame with rust-resistant paint to extend its use.
Create vertical gardens
The biggest challenge with a small yard is the lack of horizontal space. The solution? Go vertical. Raised planting beds and differing heights not only create beautiful patterns, but also open up usable space.
Think hanging planters and tired plant stands. Want an herb garden but don’t have the gardening space? Consider repurposing a cloth shoe organizer and filling each pocket with soil and an herb of your choice. Hang planters on fences, posts or from windowsills. Place succulents or other plants with shallow root systems in trays and mount them to walls. Add wooden frame for a more artistic look. Repurpose rain gutters or shutters with slates - salvaged finds can make for beautiful and functional gardening systems. Just make sure there's the proper drainage, and if you're planting something edible that your container is nontoxic.
Derek is currently blogging for whirlconstruction.net, a concrete landscape curbing company. When he is not blogging, he enjoys doing weekend projects around his house.