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Transform Your Small Yard Into a Captivating Outdoor Space

Small yards may be challenging, but they also offer exciting opportunities!

Landscaping a small yard can be challenging. Having limited space may make it seem impossible to create an outdoor space that is functional and visually appealing. However, small yards also hold immense potential to become intimate and cozy spaces that are perfect for entertaining and relaxation.

In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the creative ideas we use at Unique to transform small yards into captivating outdoor spaces. You’ll see that there are many ways to maximize space, enhance privacy or add some great features… so get ready to be inspired and discover the endless possibilities for landscaping your small yard.

Creating the illusion of space

Experienced landscape designers use some clever techniques to create the illusion of space and make small yards appear larger and more open. Here are a few ideas that you can incorporate into your own yard to achieve this illusion.

  • Strategic plant placement — Place taller plants or trees towards the back or sides of the yard, gradually decreasing in height towards the center or foreground. This layered effect gives the impression of depth and makes the space feel larger.

  • Use reflective surfaces — Placing a mirror on a wall or fence to reflect the surrounding greenery will make the yard appear larger. Adding a small water feature like a pond or fountain will also reflect light and create a sense of depth.

  • Ensure clear sightlines — Remove any visual barriers that make the yard feel cramped, such as overgrown shrubs or trees. Clear pathways and create open lines of sight to give the impression of a more expansive and connected space.

  • Choose a light colour palette — Light colours reflect natural light and create an atmosphere that feels airy and spacious. Use light-coloured furniture cushions, outdoor rugs and accessories to create a sense of harmony.

  • Be mindful of scale — Oversized or bulky items can make a small space feel even more cramped. Opt for sleek and compact designs that fit well within the available space, allowing for easy movement and a sense of openness. 

Remember, the illusion of space is all about careful planning, strategic design choices and using optical tricks that work harmoniously together.

Choose your plants carefully

When choosing plants from a nursery, make sure to read the tags so you know the mature size of the plant you’re buying. If you don’t leave them enough space to grow, you may end up with weak plants that are susceptible to disease and pests. Overcrowded plants also tend to look messy and unattractive.

You don’t have to limit yourself to alpines because you have a small space. You can incorporate larger plants, keeping these factors in mind:

  • Select compact varieties — Look for compact or dwarf varieties of large plants.They are just as attractive as their larger counterparts, but in a more manageable size.

  • Placement — Consider the placement of large plants in relation to the overall layout of your backyard. Position them strategically to create focal points or to frame specific areas. 

  • Pruning — Regular pruning helps control the size and shape of the plants, preventing them from outgrowing the available space. 

  • Multi-functional use — Select plants that offer functional benefits along with their visual appeal. For example, consider trees that provide shade or privacy or shrubs that double as a visual screen or windbreak. 

Make use of vertical space

While we’re on the subject of plants, vertical gardening techniques are very effective in small spaces. Walls of lush vegetation create a stunning display and provide privacy. They can be trained to grow on trellises, pergolas, pavilions and along fences. 

When selecting plants for vertical gardens, consider those with trailing or climbing habits, such as ivy, clematis, climbing roses and wisteria, to name a few. You can also plant certain vegetables and fruits, including grapes, cucumbers, pole beans and peas.

Make the most of your small space

Landscaping a small yard may be challenging, but they also offer exciting opportunities for creativity and innovation. By employing clever design strategies and making the most of the available space, small yards can be transformed into beautiful and functional outdoor retreats.

  • If you really want a water feature, consider a pondless waterfall or even a bubbling rock or basalt column instead.

  • No room for a pool? Perhaps you could install a swim spa, and get the benefits of a hot tub too!

  • Install patios, decks and shade structures to create specific zones and make better use of the space. 

Those are just a few ideas. If you have a small yard, book a consultation and tell us what kind of challenges you’re facing. And feel free to check out some of our featured properties for inspiration. Garden Oasis, in particular, makes excellent use of a very small backyard space.