Landscaping Ideas for Small Backyards

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Not everyone can boast with a big, beautiful backyard, but just because you live in a place that has a small outdoor space, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy its benefits. It all comes down to applying smart design on a smaller scale. 

Whether you live in a townhouse with a narrow strip of land behind it, or an apartment with ample indoor space and not so much outdoor space, you can still create a dreamy backyard with lush trees, colorful plants, a seating area, and maybe even a water feature. 

There’s practically no limit to garden ideas and styles, and there’s a backyard solution for every inch of your land, no matter the size.

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Hot tub and barbecue area

If you’re yearning for a private, cozy outdoor space but your backyard measures around 1,500 square feet, you can easily set up a hot tub with a bespoke, comfy bench, overhead string lights, vertical planting, built-in barbecue, and a fire pit for romantic evening soirées with your loved one.

To add more interest and depth, create a winding pathway of stone or concrete pavers that lead to a screened lounging area surrounded by rocks and boulders and accent lighting.  

A family-friendly backyard

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If you have a larger family, you’ll need to accommodate the kids as well, so a family-friendly backyard is a perfect solution. Section your backyard into different areas – a dining and seating area for family meals, a low-maintenance fescue grass patch for the kids to play on, some interactive sculptures and custom-designed benches with under seating storage to put away the kids’ outdoor toys when they’re not used. You can also put up durable fencing with plum pines for added privacy and softscaping. 

Vertical backyard

Urban backyards are often shared with several apartments so it poses a challenge to design it well so it can be accessed easily from each home. Also, there’s typically no outdoor water supply, so it’s best to plant drought-tolerant plants and then play with various upgrades to create interest and symmetry – fencing with vertical planters, an artificial lawn, a stone patio with comfortable seating and lightweight furniture.  

With raised wood planters, the tenants can even grow herbs and vegetables as the plants grow in good-quality soil and are protected from critters such as mice and squirrels.

Focal points

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With limited outdoor space to work with, creating focal points can completely transform any small backyard. For instance, a garden bench is mere decoration, but if you build a gazebo, it automatically adds a focal point that invites you to spend time outside enjoying a cool lemonade and a chat with your friends. You can opt for a modern, rustic or ornate gazebo and dress it up with vines, plants and comfy cushions. 

Another great focal point is an island garden in the lawn – a lovely and vibrant area where you can plant eye-catching plants and ornaments that range from tall ones in the center and cascade down to colorful, ground-level flowers. Being viewed from all sides, such an island will be a joy to look at, inspiring an air of abundance.  

To add more drama to this area, choose a variety of tropical plants of different sizes that you can combine (please visit Jim’s Mowing for more information). They will also add more texture and interest to your small yard and it almost doesn’t matter what the surrounding plants are since these tropical varieties will act as true backyard divas! 

With a few additional ornaments and brightly colored furniture, you’ll set a tone for your backyard even when your plants are not in bloom. This is when a small garden has an advantage as you can create great visual impact from only a few well-chosen items and plants. 

Miniature Versailles

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If you love the French style of class and elegance, create your own mini Versailles with clipped hedges and parterres with intricate geometrical details divided by pathways. It takes very little maintenance – good spring pruning and some touch-up in mid-season will capture the vibe of a castle with a formal garden.

Street style backyard

As it often happens in an urban setting, there might be no yard at all, but you can still create a tiny garden – a simple table with a few chairs, large clay containers with plants, some tiny lemon or orange trees, and you’ll have created a lovely little gathering spot for you and your neighbors. Somewhat reminiscent of either French bistros or narrow Greek island streets. 

Tiny orchards

If you can’t stand the sight of barren, wood fencing in your small backyard, there’s a perfect solution that will satisfy both your aesthetics and the love of fruit – an espaliered tree! It’s attractive and very tempting to see it spread out on your patio fence. It may seem very complicated at first, but to grow a trellised fruit tree you only need some wire, hooks and patience. In a few years, you’ll have a tiny orchard within arm’s reach from your patio – an abundance of apples, plums, peaches, or pears! 

If you’d rather use containers, rest assured as almost anything can be grown in them! Surround your deck with appetizing plants such as dwarf citrus trees. These require a relatively small pot and stay small, but as they can’t withstand cold winters, you’ll have to bring them indoors, but that only means you’ll be able to enjoy them all year long. 

Grandeur in a tight space

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A small backyard doesn’t mean it can’t be luxurious and grand. Instead of building a standard small deck with an unattractive umbrella table and grill, consider a stone-paved patio and a built-in tiny water feature surrounded by lush, low-maintenance plants. Water is always a welcome element in any garden adding a cooling effect. To make the most of the soothing sound of trickling water, put up some oversized, comfy chairs around and enjoy the warmth of the afternoon sun under a bamboo shade. The combination of lush plants, gentle water sounds and comfy seating will create a perfect flow and balance making your tiny backyard a true Zen space.

The less backyard space you have, the more intentional you need to be when designing it. This doesn’t mean you have to work harder but rather smarter to maximize the footprint and create an oasis of beauty and tranquillity. Hopefully, the tips listed here will inspire you to redesign your tiny backyard and spend the summer entertaining your guests and soaking up the sunshine!

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