Landscaping a small yard can be tricky but, if done well, it can create an illusion of a bigger yard. To create a feeling of expansiveness you’ll need a good plan and possibly the guidance of a landscape architect.
When planning your landscape you might feel compelled to stick with small plants since the space is small, but that will just end up making the yard seem smaller. If you have the space, consider carving out distinct garden areas that will form outdoor rooms and keep from revealing the entire yard at one glance. This will create a magical ambiance as well as provide separate areas for relaxation and entertaining.
For front yard landscaping consider adding a picket or lattice fence about a foot from the property’s edge to create dimension and texture without giving a closed-in feeling. The fence will create a frame in which to garden and create privacy. On the street side, plant low-lying Hostas, Autumn Joy sedum, Japanese painted ferns, and creeping phlox. Plant taller Casa Blanca lilies, butterfly bush, foxglove, and false indigo on the house side of the fence. Add a dogwood tree to provide shade as well as a focal point.
Landscape your backyard with layers of plants in various heights and textures to add depth. Besides green, choose two to three colors and stick with that; otherwise your yard will seem cramped. Stay away from straight paths, straight garden beds, and straight borders – they’re not only uninteresting they’ll make your yard appear even smaller.
Whether front or backyard, when it comes to hardscape features (e.g., fences, paths, trellises, fountains, etc.), keep the scale and proportion in check with your surroundings.
Use the walls of your home, garage, and backyard fencing for vertical gardening. Creeping fig and Virginia creeper are excellent fast growing plants that will create serenity, add charm, and keep your home naturally cooler in summer months and warmer in winter (and won’t pull the stucco off). Train roses to grow along the fence. Attach a ready-made trellis to your house to support a clematis vine. A “Belgian fence” espalier against a wall creates interest, especially in narrow spaces – apple, pear, and fig trees are excellent choices.
An arbor placed over a window creates a focal point, softens the façade, creates shade, and invites yet another opportunity to add to your small yard landscape.
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