9 Lessons Learned from Tiny Backyards

It’s a basic human desire to own a little plot of land. But what if your plot is really, really little? With some clever planning and a few spatial and visual tricks, you can still make a very modest outdoor space into an interesting, functional, and enjoyable spot to relax and entertain alfresco. Read on for 9 strategies for living large in a tiny yard.

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  1. Add a Bit of Decking


    When you can't spread out, spread up—varying levels can make a compact space seem larger. The raised deck (yes, even the smallest of lots can have a deck!) nicely defines a lounging area adjacent to a shed, which makes it convenient to stow away cushions when bad weather approaches.

    Related:  Get Inspired! 17 Sensational Deck Designs


  2. Use the Terrain Wisely


    Here again, this time achieved solely with landscaping, multiple levels can create the illusion of a larger yard. Instead of fighting against a sloping site, this homeowner created a sense of space and depth with a stepped pathway that meanders through a varied, textured array of plantings.

    Related:  10 Enchanting Landscape Lighting Solutions


  3. Think About Lighting and Props


    One advantage of a small space is that it doesn’t take much money or work to give it a major upgrade. Simply installing a fence and stringing up lights transforms what could have been a sad and bedraggled yard into a cozy, romantic hideaway.

    Related:  New & Notable - 15 Lighting Solutions to Brighten Up Your Outdoor Decor


  4. Define Distinct Zones


    The geometric forms of this modern home give shape to specifically designated spaces within the landscape design. Tall hedges surround the outdoor room and make the outer yard feel more expansive.  

    Related:  10 Ideas to Steal from Picture-Perfect Patios

    Zillow Digs home in Los Angeles, CA

  5. Create a Visual Adventure


    To add interest to a tiny yard, consider creating a pathway to visually expand the space. In this back garden, a stone path takes the eyes on a mini journey through pretty ground cover and a tapestry of green plantings, with a stone bench and a tiny pond serving as a final destination.

    Related:  No More Mowing - 10 Grass-Free Alternatives to a Traditional Lawn


  6. Complement Lush Plantings with Structure


    This thickly planted yard looks much more inviting with the addition of a graciously wide brick path to lend some air and openness. The slight brick deck—just wide enough for a doormat and planters—creates a graceful transition from house to yard without eating up much space.

    Related:  The Right Path - 15 Wonderful Walkway Designs

    Zillow Digs home in Edison, NJ

  7. Squeeze in a Wow-Worthy Feature


    Just because the yard is low on square footage doesn’t mean it can’t be a grand space for gathering. A fire pit or an attractive stone design—or both, as seen here—is a dreamy feature that takes up very little space considering the amount of entertainment it provides.

    Related:  8 Low-Cost Kits for a 21st-Century Log Cabin

    Zillow Digs home in Oakland, CA

  8. Focus on Multitasking


    Hardworking furnishings are just as important in a small yard as they are in a small house. To make the most of a minuscule patio area, this homeowner constructed a planter bench that combines guest seating with raised garden beds. The frame in this Instructables DIY is metal and required welding, but the same functionality could be achieved using a wooden frame.

    Related:  Double-Duty Furniture - 9 Affordable Favorites That Save Space


  9. Go Vertical


    Don’t neglect vertical space when looking for ways to expand the visual depth and functionality of a small yard. A fence or wall can be painted a vibrant color, used for storage, or even put to work as a growing space. These living wall gardens are filled with succulents, an excellent choice for a hot and dry spot.

    Related:  16 Sneaky Storage Ideas


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