Creating Outdoor Living in Small Spaces

Creating Outdoor Living in Small Spaces

Paver small fountain

When we talk about reinventing paradise, many people assume a large space is required to create quality landscaping. This could not be further from the truth. While it is true that some elements are best left for larger lots, a lot of our favorite designs have been done in small yards or small intimate spaces. There are special considerations and a fair bit of editing is a good place to start. If you can limit yourself to one or two really cool elements, a small yard can still generate a good bit of garden envy from the neighbors. (we mean this in the nicest way possible, after all, what is beautiful landscape without friends and family to share it with?)

Pavers Stairs and walkway

Looking at Your Space

Small spaces are often very unique. We suggest you start by assessing what you have. One very important factor may be the shape of your yard. Is it long and narrow, stretching out away from the house, or short and wide, running right along the back wall? Either way, looking at the available space as an asset, rather than an obstacle helps to open up the possibilities. Long narrow spaces lend themselves to walkways with elements along either side, while short wide spaces may be best decked or paved in to extend the house outward, making the most of the available entertaining space.

Setting the Stage

To seed, or not to seed? In most American neighborhoods, a lawn is almost a prerequisite, but in small spaces, it may not be your best idea. Pro: small lawns are easy to maintain and you could have a really nice one, with a little time and effort. Con: trying to fit a lawn and deck, or patio in a small space can leave you without enough of either to make them satisfying.

This is your space, so make the choice that suits you. If you long to spend the weekend in a comfy chair with the grass tickling your toes, plant a lawn. If you long to lounge with friends around a fire pit, or grill, consider paving or decking all, or most of your small yard.Whatever you choose as the foundation, it will serve to help you in the other choices that need making.



Once you have decided on what type of yard you want, hard-scaped, or soft, the issue of scale should be next on your agenda. When adding elements to a small yard it works best to select elements that fit the scale of the yard and the house. While you may have always wanted a full-scale reproduction of your favorite Italian town fountain, something smaller will probably fit better, and give you a much better look and feel in the long run.

For narrow spaces, taller elements with less depth, such as wall or fence mounted fountains, trellises and thin items, such as cut out metal sculpture work well. Beds, which are typically 4 feet or deeper out from a wall or fence, can be as narrow as you need, and most types of tree and shrub can be found in dwarf, or smaller varieties, giving you a similar feel, in less space.

Even furniture and items such as grills and firepits come in varying sizes and using scaled back pieces can make your small yard feel much roomier. There is one caveat to this, do not sacrifice comfort for scale. A smaller chair does not mean Lilliputian, so choose items that make sense, and make you comfortable.

In part two of our Garden Envy Guide for small yards, we will discuss perspective, and ideas for creating even more intimate spaces inside a small yard. Stay tuned for more, and be sure to share this post if you got something out of it, or know anyone who owns a townhome, or patio home!

Like what you read? Give us a call, we would love to consult with you on your design! Call Jerry @ 405-615-0939