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Mar 11, 2013
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Creating a Backyard Garden in a Small SpaceA wonderful opportunity to create a sensational garden is small backyard. A restorative green space to sit, relax and entertain is almost a necessity with more and more of us living in urban environments. It doesn’t matter how small the space there are ways and means of creating your own backyard paradise—whether it’s an apartment balcony or a tiny backyard.

Getting Started

When space is at a premium, planning is essential. In order to help you visualize what you want, it’s worth mapping out the available space. Get busy with the tape measure and create a scale plan of your backyard. It can be done on graph paper. Be sure to mark in doors, windows, fences and gates. If you have a sewer line or gas meter, then mark them in too.

One major mistakes people make when designing a small garden is cramming too much into the space which results in the garden feeling crowded and even smaller. Every plant, paver and piece of furniture has to be an important part of your outdoor retreat. Elements that can work double duty should be used such as: a bench with in-built storage, a decorative vine that bears fruit or a shade plant that acts as a privacy screen.

Layout Design

It’s important to design it for maximum use when your outdoor space is limited. Determine how you spend most of your time in the garden. It may be a place to barbecue, a play area for the kids, a quiet retreat to read a book or a social hub to catch up with friends. Whatever the purpose is, design to fulfill the garden’s primary role.

When all the elements are in place, you can work out the feel of the garden.

  • formal, highly manicured garden or more of an informal area
  • plants that suit the space without taking over the area
  • welcoming garden with enough room to feel light and airy not crowded

Ground Options

A patch of law is always great, but if grass is an impossible choice due to excess shade or lack of room, then paving or decking is an attractive option. Paving should be simple and free of strong geometrical design. Highly patterned areas make the space seem smaller. Another option is synthetic grass. It can work in conjunction with a paved area, is extremely hard wearing, and gives the kids somewhere to roll around.


Simplicity is the golden rule when it comes to planting a small garden. A few well-chosen, optimally-positioned plants around the space is the way to go. Trees are usually too big for small gardens. If you choose to plant trees, think carefully about their placement. That sapling might look great next to the back door, but in 10 years’ time, could be a nightmare

Tall, leafy shrubs work well in small gardens. If space is really short, you might consider adding a trellis to a wall to sustain climbing vines. A dull exterior wall can be transformed into a riot of color and greenery with a vertical wall.

Terraced outdoor shelving which hold different sized potted plants help create a lush look.

A corner dedicated to herbs can add color and make meals even more delicious.

If your outdoor space is a balcony or concrete slab on a rental property, you can still transform it into a green space. Use potted plants, hanging baskets or planter troughs to fill the area with greenery. They come in a large selection of shapes, sizes and textures to help create any feel you desire.

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