8 ways to work with a small, narrow or otherwise flawed garden

June 23, 2015

No matter the size and shape of your garden, there are ways to work with the space to turn it into a relaxing retreat.

8 ways to work with a small, narrow or otherwise flawed garden

1. Add levels

In a very small garden, different levels not only add interest, they give you more space for planting.

  • Instead of letting a lawn take up most of the yard, create terraced levels, including steps where you can cluster some pots, and rockeries against low walls.
  • Use containers of all kinds to increase your planting area.

2. Make your backyard look bigger

  • Plant shrubs at the far end of your yard.

This will disguise the length of a short lot by obscuring the boundary.

3. Avoid the tunnel effect

In addition to a curved path, broaden the look of a narrow yard with spreading or broad, rounded shapes.

  • Let a winding path meander into the distance and stagger plantings on each side so they are balanced but not truly symmetrical.
  • Soften the linear lines of walls or fences with climbing plants.
  • Install focal points, such as a small pool or pergola, to draw the eye horizontally.

4. Long, narrow yard? Distract from the back

Avoid anything that encourages the eye to focus on the far end.

  • Instead of running a long, straight path down the garden's length, use stepping stones in a curved line.
  • Place a trellis at right angles to the side boundaries partway down the garden and add decorative foliage plants.

5. Emphasize entryways

  • Grow flower beds, shapely shrubs and use attractive containers to dress up entryways.

Other landscape problems are easily overlooked if your entryways are attractive and inviting.

6. Work with slopes

  • On sloping ground, plan to have winding paths and steps, which are both convenient and interesting.

These handsome elements will make your maintenance work easier, and your garden will look more varied.

7. Fill difficult corners

Difficult corners can be filled with a large, bushy evergreen or a small tree, which has bark that's attractive in winter.

8. End isolation

If your house is at the top of a slope, don't isolate it further by surrounding it with a bare lawn.

  • Plant shrubs and perennials on at least two sides to unite the house with the garden and to soften the harshness of the setting.

With the right tricks and tools, you can transform a backyard of any size or shape into an inviting outdoor oasis.

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