Blueprint to Maximize Small Backyard Space

In recent years, there have been many new regulations relating to impervious versus pervious coverage passed, as well as rules relating to waste water management. These regulations control how much space you are allowed to cover with surfaces such as brick paving. The rules vary from each municipality and it is well advised to check on your particular zoning codes. Once established what you can legally do with your small space, you are ready to begin creating your dream outdoor living space blueprint. Embrace the backyard space you have and use the following tips to transition your small space to your own oasis.

Choose your Garden Design Style

Laying out your narrow backyard or tiny yard and keeping it functional and beautiful is not an impossible task. There are endless small patio ideas and styles to choose. Each garden is unique and has its own style. What is your style? Does a formal landscape look appeal to you? Perhaps you are intrigued with a quaint country garden design look. Maybe you always dreamed of a backyard with a classic country style that has a Pennsylvania Bluestone patio or your taste leans toward a Japanese inspired garden retreat. Whatever your landscape design style is, you can easily adapt it to a smaller yard setting with some advance planning and forethought.

Divide the Space into multiple rooms

Dividing the backyard space into distinct zones creates unique destinations, thereby maximizing the entire yard space. Keep the small space very functional, by each outdoor living room or nook having its own purpose. For example, a small courtyard could be your outdoor sitting area with a fireplace and a separate area for unwinding in your hot tub. This configuration would allow you to fully use the outdoor space during the colder seasons. How do you want to spend your time in your small space? Do you want to cook, dine or entertain? Do the kids really like to play or maybe you need a peaceful spot to meditate? Dividing the garden up into different rooms will check some of the boxes on your wish list while working in a small footprint.

Consider your View

Attract the eye upward by using vertical and overhead space. Incorporating some of the following elements is great use of vertical space: tiered planters, trellises that conceal and let light in, lattice planted with climbing vines. One of my favorite climbing vines is Mandevilla. This vine is very easy to care for and puts on a vigorous flower display. I plant Mandevilla vines on tall trellises and in flowering baskets to cascade downward. A well positioned structure such as a pergola is a fabulous use of overhead space and adds dimension to a small area. Hanging flowering baskets draw attention to a particular spot you wish to highlight. I have flowering baskets that hang down from a tall bell pole to provide height in the space. Window baskets planted with colorful annuals add to the garden view and take no space.

Create a focal point to attract attention such as a lighted water fountain, edible herbs and vegetables in containers or a stunning tall garden statue. The use of water and garden art are great additions as a centerpiece in any flower garden or small backyard plan.

Plant a privacy screen to block unsightly views and distractions. You will joyously sip your morning coffee if you are secluded and do not have to interact with the neighbors constantly. Position the plants to make use of symmetry and balance while achieving great blockage, this will create a calming feeling. I recommend using Green Giant Arborvitaes for a property border screening. Green Giants grow fast are very hardy, plus deer resistant.

Add Variation using Contrast and Character

Differentiate and contrast your space by incorporating varied shapes in the furniture or your patio shape – for instance, use both rectangular and circular shaped patios. Mix it up with a counterpoint for interest. Use something unexpected like a unique texture in the plants & flowers. Bright patterns on accent pillows and throws will provide contrast. Think fun filled décor for the kids with a brightly colored painted picnic table or an old wagon bursting with flower blooms.

Character is key in your small space – outdoor furnishings are the final finishing touch; the icing on the cake. An attractive outdoor rattan sofa can be purchased cheaply at estate sales or craigslist to provide sophisticated character. Layer character into your space with these elements: a bold outdoor rug, whimsical outdoor art, illuminating lanterns for a cozy glow or a stately outdoor chandelier. My favorite patio set is constructed of wrought iron, it is sturdy, easily refurbished and can be purchased cheaply secondhand. Spray paint is a wonderful thing. Patterned outdoor cushions and pillows can be added to give a custom look tailored to your taste. Have fun and enjoy your new small space!

“When deciding how to layout your small backyard space and develop a backyard landscape garden design the first critical step is to check your local ordinances for zoning codes.”
Rich Caddick

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