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Need some help transforming a small, cluttered landscape into a beautiful, functional outdoor space? Contact us today for a free consultation or call us at 772-4722.

Landscaping Ideas For Small Yards

Creating a landscape design for a small yard can be a little challenging. The object is to make the space welcoming without feeling cluttered or claustrophobic. Visit any garden center or nursery and you’ll see it’s easy to be overwhelmed with all that’s on offer. Limiting the number of plants and other features that you will put in your space can be agonizing. Below are a few simple ideas when designing (or embellishing) your small yard landscape.

PLANT SIZE: A small yard really isn’t a problem as long as you select plants with a MATURE size that are in proportion to your yard and your house. As a general rule: For the taller plants in a foundation bed, select large shrubs or trees that will grow to a mature height equal to or less than 2/3 of the height of the eaves of the house.

BUYER BEWARE: Plants that you buy at a nursery or garden center are usually quite young and will look small giving the false impression that they will not grow to be very large in 5 to 10 years time. And, fairly often, the plant tags may not indicate how large the plant will become.

When you are at the nursery or garden center, identify the plants that you are interested in and – if the plant tag doesn’t give complete information – research their features including the mature sizes of the plants on a reputable Website. (Be sure to look up the complete plant name as different varieties of the same type of plant can significantly vary in size.)

It may take a little longer to plan your landscape design, but a little time spent researching now could prevent a big headache 10 years down the road.

Also, keep overhead utilities in mind. You don’t want the utility company coming to your house and topping your trees or shrubs after it’s grown too tall. (Just as important: Don’t forget to have underground utilities marked before you plant.)

GARDEN ROOMS: Your small yard may also benefit from a design principle known as garden rooms (also called OUTDOOR ROOMS). A garden room is a defined space in your yard that will usually have a specific function(s), such as:

  • A paver patio for outdoor dining defined by planting borders or flower boxes,
  • A turf area for lawn games defined by an edging of groundcovers or shrub borders,
  • A terraced area for relaxing bordered by shade trees, etc.

You can choose to define a garden room with wooden or stone structures, such as privacy fencing, stone wall, overhead pergola, or arbor. Or you can use plants to give definition to the “walls” or “ceiling” of your outdoor room.

Dividing a small yard into multiple rooms – if done properly – can lend a feeling of depth to a shallow space. Multiple garden rooms can also help make a long narrow yard more appealing.

THINK VERTICAL: Generally speaking, vertical elements are usually taller than they are wide (or deep). This is important for small beds or landscapes as they take up less square footage than mounded or rounded plants of the same height.

Vertical elements can be living, non-living, or a combination of these. For example, a living vertical element can be an upright evergreen shrub or tree, a non-living element could be an arbor or pergola, and a combination of these can be an arbor or wooden fence with a trailing vine growing on it.

Individual vertical elements, such as a fountain or upright evergreen, can – when used judiciously – serve as focal points in an overall landscape design. On the other hand, a group of vertical elements, such as a row of upright evergreens planted as a hedge or a long wooden privacy fence, can lend a sense of enclosure or boundary to a space. Additionally, vertical elements, whether used individually or in groups, can add a great deal of interest and variety to a space.

A NOTE ABOUT VINES: Be sure to select vines that will not destroy the structure you give them to climb on. Some vines have tendrils that will take hold of wood or mortar and can cause damage or look unsightly when the vine is cut back or removed. Also, Wisteria – while quite beautiful in bloom – is such a vigorous grower that it has been known to crush wooden structures over time.

To maximize the planting space in a small yard:

  • Select plants that stay small without frequent pruning or plants that are taller than they are wide. If you don’t have space for full-sized shrubs, use dwarf varieties or plant low-growing groundcovers, upright grasses, and perennials instead.
  • Plant vines along fences or on a trellis rather than planting a shrub or row of shrubs. (If you’d like to have foliage color for an extended period throughout the year, select a vine that is evergreen or semi-evergreen for our area.)
  • Select embellishments that are in proportion to the size of the plant bed or garden area. Instead of a stand-alone fountain, consider a flush-mounted fountain that adds the sound of flowing water but doesn’t take up as much space.
  • Double your pleasure. Look at how you can use overhead space to add plants or other design elements. For example, if you already have a garden bench, consider adding an arbor (over the bench) planted with a flowering vine.
  • Keep hardscape elements in proportion to size and use. This includes not only the square footage of a patio or walkway (or height of a wall) but also the size of the pavers, flagstones, or blocks that are used to create those elements.

Need help with designing and installing a welcoming and functional landscape design? Contact us for your free estimate or click on the following links to visit our other Web pages for more information on the design, build, and installation services we offer: LANDSCAPE DESIGN, BUILD SERVICES, and LANDSCAPE INSTALLATION.

We Provide Services to the Following Cities, Towns and surrounding areas in VA:
  • Blue Ridge, VA
  • Boones Mill, VA
  • Botetourt County, VA
  • Cave Spring, VA
  • Cloverdale, VA
  • Daleville, VA
  • Fincastle, VA
  • Franklin County, VA
  • Garden City, VA
  • Hardy, VA
  • Hollins, VA
  • Moneta, VA
  • Roanoke, VA
  • Rocky Mount, VA
  • Salem, VA
  • Smith Mountain Lake, VA
  • Troutville, VA
  • Vinton, VA