Ricochet News

Creative thoughts for small gardens

Mar 15, 2017
Creative thoughts for small gardens

Mimi Rupp from Stone etc. believes with a little design know-how even the smallest lawn, the most petite of patios or the tiniest of balconies can become a beautiful space. “Trick the eye with a colour scheme or use clever lighting,” says Mimi. “You can make a feature of foliage, or simply adorn a small space with inviting accessories.”

Landscaping ideas

  • Long, straight lines trick you into thinking a small yard or small garden landscape is bigger than it is. To take full advantage of this illusion, subtly slant the far end of the lines toward one another and create a focal point
  • A focal point is a great small yard landscaping idea to draw the eye's attention and help outdoor spaces feel tidy.
  • Mix unexpected elements to offer dramatic visual relief. For example, mix paving, lawn, hardscape, and container plantings. It adds enough interest to a small garden so that you hardly notice the size of the space
  • A simple pergola gives small garden landscaping a grand feel. Arbors and pergolas are classic small yard landscaping ideas and a great way to frame a view, but you can do the same with shrubs, small trees, or even pieces of garden art
  • Break up open areas of a small space so it feels larger. Use different furniture groupings and paths to create attractive and restful nooks
  • Big, bold tropical plants create a lush feel, especially in a small landscape. Their large leaves can change the scale of a small backyard to help it feel larger, and their unusual shape helps to boost the "cool" factor of the area

The planting basics

  • If you really love plants, don't need a lawn, and are limited with space, consider skipping the grass. Stagger your plants for height and include walking paths so you can tend to plants in the center of the space. Remember: our homes and gardens should be the best expressions of us and the things we love
  • If you’re lucky enough to have access to a patio, balcony or rooftop that receives at least 5-6 hours a day of sunlight, you can use planters filled with patio, mini or dwarf roses to provide colorful blooms all summer long
  • Grouping containers together are not only visually appealing, it also helps to create a more humid mini climate for the plants, reducing moisture loss from both leaves and potting mix
  • When selecting shrubs for small gardens, it's important to keep the plant's mature size and growth rate in mind. Slow growers that maintain a small, compact shape, like a Japanese pieris 'Flamingo' are ideal
  • If your green thumb is a little, um, brown, a low-maintenance plant, like echeveria, is a safe bet. They store water in their fleshy leaves, stems and roots, succulents require very little watering — but they do require plenty of sun. Position the pots where they will receive at least 2-4 hours of direct sunlight each day and water sparingly only when the topsoil is completely dry, about every 10 days
  • Make the most of even the smallest amount of gardening space with tiered beds. Easier to maintain than a traditional garden as plants are at a more comfortable level to care for

A punch of colour

  • Place bold, bright colors to the front of where you'll view them. They will catch your attention first, making the garden beyond seem to recede, making it feel larger
  • Combining several small plants together in one pot is a great way to mix colours and textures. Plus, since young, small plants are typically cheaper than mature ones, it's also a budget-friendly option.
  • To make brightly colored flowers really pop, plant them in a terra cotta pot that has been painted a flat black
  • The container gardening fun isn't over when winter arrives. Blooming annuals, like pansies, ornamental cabbages and primrose will cheer up containers till spring arrives
  • If your small garden is shady, consider planting a hydrangea, like a lacecap hydrangea 'Bluebird' whose showy blue, pink or purple flowers (dependent on your soil's acidity) to add a splash of colour

Growing your own

  • Dwarf variety citrus trees are not only beautiful, given the right conditions, they can also be bountiful. Fill beautiful pots with these flowering fruit trees to give your outdoor space a sunny, So-Cal vibe
  • No outdoor space? No worries. All you need is a sunny windowsill to produce a season's worth of sweet strawberries for topping salads or yoghurt
  • A little planning and a few packets of seed are all you need to grow a bumper crop of homegrown veggie. Establish the seedlings indoors then transfer them to a waiting pot in a sunny spot for your very own fresh produce
  • Plant a hanging basket with cherry tomatoes and an assortment of herbs — like basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano or parsley — to keep fresh seasonings for an Italian dinner within easy reach

Think vertical

  • Urban living often means cramped quarters both indoors and out so make the most of the space you have by thinking vertically. Place shelves with potted plants up walls for example
  • Compact climbers, like jasmine and clematis, are great container plants. All they need to thrive is a pot with good drainage, a trellis or post for support and regular watering and feeding.
  • Perfect for the smallest of outdoor spaces, multi-pocket fabric wall planters offers a kitchen garden's-worth of planting space for an assortment of fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, chives and basil. Irrigation holes in each pocket allow excess water to drain away, ensuring plants stay moist but not overly wet
  • Look for shrubs, succulents and trees that max out interest and grow up, not out