Plan Your Space
You might think that keeping a small yard open and loosely planned would make it feel bigger, but the opposite is true. The key to a more spacious feeling is all in the organization. Define the spaces in your small yard and make their purposes clear. Delineate a dining or lounging area with a stone patio, or separate the play area from the dining area with plantings. All of a sudden, it looks like there's so much more space.
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Play Up the Side Yard
Side yards are often ignored, or just relegated to garbage can storage. Used correctly, however, this precious square footage can help you expand your usable space. Incorporate the side yard into your landscaping plan by planting a culinary herb garden, or add a slim cafe table for a morning coffee retreat. Surely, you can find room for those garbage cans in the garage.
Create a Destination
A small yard will feel more grand if you turn it into a destination. Create an outdoor room with a nicely arranged patio set and grill. Or add a special feature like a fountain, fire pit, or cozy reading nook to make this tiny spot worth the visit.
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Frame a View
Architectural features like arbors or pergolas are perennial favorites in small yards. Use one to frame a view, hang a swing, or even plant a climbing garden. The height of these backyard structures gives the illusion of more space, while the features themselves add interest and character.
Choose the Right Trees
You can plant trees in a small yard so long as you choose ones that grow up instead of out. Taller, thinner shapes, such as columnar evergreens, and dwarf varieties of shrubs will give you lush landscaping without eating up all your space.
Incorporating terraced landscaping helps to designate spaces, making a small yard look bigger. Elevate your dining area, or sink a conversation pit around an outdoor fireplace. Terracing can also carve out more space for plantings, while a lower wall can double as bench seating.
Skip the Fence
With the neighbors close by, you may feel the urge to put up a privacy fence. Try to resist. Your yard will appear bigger if the eye can take in the plantings and trees beyond your property line. With a continuous view, the unobstructed greenery can all seem part of the same landscape.
Related: 11 Ideas for Better Backyard Privacy
Attention plant lovers: filling a small yard with shrubs and flowers is a surefire way to clutter the space. Instead, grow your garden vertically with hanging baskets, wall-mounted flower pots, or stacked crates of greenery. You’ll add color without taking up precious real estate on the ground.
Stick with Small Furniture
When shopping for a small yard, always buy patio furniture that’s versatile and functional. For example, collapsible chairs and portable fire pits can be stashed inside the garage whenever you need more space. Double-duty pieces (like a bench that converts into a picnic table) also create less clutter, making your yard appear bigger than it is.
Related: 8 DIY Pick-Me-Ups for a Plain Patio
Texturize Your Yard
It’s true that layers of plants, shrubs, and garden features add interest to a yard. Thankfully for homeowners with limited space to spare, texture also creates the same eye-catching affect. Select a handful of plants with a variety of textures, like wispy ornamental grasses, coarse Canna lilies, and delicate cosmos. When arranging your flower beds, place the bolder varieties near the front to create an illusion of depth.
Straight garden features sometimes look blunt and unsatisfying. To add depth and dimension, rely on winding and curving lines instead, whether it’s for a garden path or landscape edging. The swirling shape draws the eye, creating a sense of movement and opening up the space.
Store Items in the Garage
If possible, don’t impose on your yard with clunky sheds or storage bins. Keep clutter at bay by stashing yard tools, outdoor equipment, and children’s toys in the garage instead. As a result, your property will look larger and more streamlined.
Blur the Lines
Take a cue from warm-weather dwellers by blending your indoor and outdoor living spaces. Transitional features like large glass windows and sliding doors create a seamless boundary, giving the illusion of a bigger backyard.
Bigger and Better
You can have big beauty and big fun, even in a small yard.
Give the special gardener in your life a little love this holiday season! Go now to see Bob Vila's best gifts for green thumbs.