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Garden Design Ideas for a Small Yard

If you happen to own or rent a house that has a small yard, there are ways you can transform that small outdoor space into your own oasis; your at-home getaway to relax, recharge, and enjoy all the beauty nature has to offer.

It takes imagination, creativity, and hard work to transform your small yard, especially if you’re doing all the work yourself. But it will be well worth it in the long run.

Before you pick up a shovel, study your yard. Take the time to get to know it well as that will get those design ideas flowing. It will also help you to determine the right design for your yard according to its natural environment, your needs, and desires.

First off, here are a few things that don’t work well in a small yard.

A Lawn

If you want a garden and an area for outdoor entertainment, a lawn most definitely won’t be the right thing for your yard. In any case, lawns and small, enclosed urban yards don’t go well together. That is owing to poor soil conditions and, in some cases, erosion. This is what makes lawns in small yards impractical.

Opt instead for a combination of washed pea gravel and stone for a patio, or just plain stone for your entire yard if your budget allows.

Trees and Shrubs

Trees and flowering shrubs accentuate landscapes and are often focal points in a garden. Trees are also used for shade, particularly during the hot summer months. But in a small yard, they only crowd the space. Another thing to keep in mind: Trees should not be planted too close to a house.

Ponds and Other Landscape Features

Ponds, fountains, arbors, and gazebos are aesthetically appealing and are also used as focal points in a garden, but they are far more practical in larger yards. That said, a small water fountain could work well as a focal point in a small yard if that is part of the design for your yard.

Now, here are some ideas that do work well in a small yard.


Container gardens are ideal for small yards because they maximize space and are easy to maintain. You also don’t have to restrict yourself to annuals either. You can plant herbs, vegetables, and perennials as well. If you want more than a few potted plants, consider installing or building a couple of raised beds.

Make the Fence Disappear

A 6-to-8-foot fence enclosing your yard can feel imposing, thus making your yard look smaller than it actually is. William Morrow, an American garden designer, came up with the idea of a “disappearing boundary” by painting an enclosing 7-foot-high wooden fence high-gloss black (Joanna Fortnam,

This is a nifty idea, but you can also plant the following climbing vines along your fence in order to make it disappear: Clematis, jasmine, trumpet vine, honeysuckle, or even a climbing hydrangea. Flowering vines add beauty and depth to a small yard, they also fill the air with a delightful fragrance and attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.

Decorate Your Outdoor Space

Add style and charm to your newly landscaped yard by adding a bird bath and small statues or pieces of driftwood – if the beach theme is what you’re after – in between potted plants. String up lights around the perimeter of your yard and, if the space permits, add a small garden bench or water fountain. When it comes to creativity, the sky is the limit, even for small yards.

Outdoor Furniture for Small Yards

Even though your yard is small, you can still transform it into an outdoor living space that is inviting, enchanting, and inspiring to guests.

Morrow suggests, “Iron furniture is a good choice for small gardens because visually it is light and airy,” he explains (Joanna Fortnam). You can also include a small enclosed fire pit if you want your summer gatherings to involve socializing around a campfire.

The Takeaway

You can turn a small yard into your own outdoor oasis and maximize your downtime spent in it throughout the warm months. The only limitations are the constraints you put on your creativity.

Sources Used

Fortnam, Joanna. Transforming A Small Garden: 7 Simple Steps. Garden Design, Accessed 19 April 2022.

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