Landscaping Ideas to Maximize Space in a Small Yard

  • 04 November 2011

Create a schematic design for your yard. Even if you are not artistically inclined, a good way to visualize your end project is to plan ahead. The scale and design of your plan may be simple or elaborate, keep in mind the overall dimension of your landscape and existing plant or hardscape material. You may already have outdoor furniture, equipment, or sitting spaces. Creating an entirely new landscape is one option or incorporating existing elements into your plan is a second option.

Design elements. There are seven design elements, but the five most important are: texture, color, size, shape, and direction. Consider theses elements when choosing plant species. Plantings can be grouped together or provide a nice border path. Purchasing plants that are dwarf varieties or have moderate growth would also benefit a smaller landscape.

Design principles. A few design principles are also helpful when planning your final design. These include: balance, rhythm/harmony, unity, contrast, focal points, and repetition. All of the natural and synthetic materials in your landscape should work together in a cohesive manner. You may want a specimen tree as the main focal point or create plant groupings throughout, leading your eye around a smaller space. In any case, plant height and placement are vital factors within your plan. Any hardscape materials used should compliment your new plantings.

What activities will be going on in the space? If you answer only one question this would be the most important. This will determine how the space will be utilized. Will it be a place for entertaining, gardening, relaxing, playing, or all the above? Keep in mind square footage and how much space is adequate for running around or how a 20′ x 20′ entertaining patio would be incorporated into the final scheme. Whatever the reasoning, plot out specific dimensions and leave at least a few feet along lot lines for future plantings or fencing.

Which plants would you like to see here? You may consider planting a fruit tree or shade tree in your yard. Another option would be seasonal gardens with evergreen borders. You may also consider an all native landscape. Whichever plants you choose keep in mind the light, water, maintenance, and growth requirements. You should also think about grouping similar plants with each other, maximizing energy efficiency and minimizing your maintenance routine. Sunlight, shade requirements, and drainage will also be determining factors in the final placement of plant species. Consider where each plant grows best and will thrive once planted.

Which plants should be kept in your landscape? You may have specimen trees, shrubs, or gardens in your yard. If they are in the way of your final design scheme, consider moving them to an alternate location in your yard. All because they were in one location to begin with doesn’t mean you have to keep them there or completely remove them from your landscape.