Only the luckiest, or those in the furthest ’burbs, can hope to have the huge garden space of their fantasies. We see them on ‘dream home’ television, young folks with budding families and bigger wallets, who besides the mandatory granite counters and vast decks for entertaining, want a garden you can hold a circus in, and maybe already have it mind for Platinum Kiddie.
But most of us must choose between getting to work without a helicopter (meaning living in town) and getting the vintage features or closet space we need over fantasy gardens, and moreover with the work schedules we keep today, who would have time to look after them?
Alas the average mini-yard is no sight to behold, with a few pottery plant holders, a scatter of shrubs and a rusty barbecue. “Too small to bother,” many will say, “and besides, we’re overlooked by neighbours. Why bother investing in landscaping when we’ll hardly spend any time out there?”
Small Touches for Big Effect
The fact is, the smaller the space, the more well chosen details will stand out and not get lost among the trees. The overall effect can be rich indeed, providing a feeling of intimacy that a bigger yard will never match.
First off, get rid of that pokey excuse for a lawn and make way for a well designed patio. Even if your summer is short, you will want to entertain here and get out of the house. Use a variety of stones, from tiny beach pebbles to marble or even old bricks. Between, or even in them, small mossy plants can grow, or cacti can lend that minimalist desert feel.
Larger flowering plants also show to greatest glory surrounded by stone patios and walkways, like the rich and earthy Indian sandstone or silvery, circular Craggstone from www.easypave.com. Crushed brick or gravel is also an attractive and low-maintenance paving option for small gardens, as well as cheaper than flagstone or brick, as long as you have first laid landscape fabric beneath it keep the weeds out. Gravel also allows rainfall to slowly penetrate the soil instead of causing run-off problems.
An Extra ‘Room’
For outdoor entertaining, nothing beats a freestanding pergola, the airier answer to an atrium or conservatory. Whether on gravel, tile or old brick, a pergola makes your garden seem much bigger than it is and lends a sense of enclosure that makes the patio seem a lot larger than it actually is. Try wrought iron for a French effect or old stones for something more medieval. If you live where grapes can be grown, vines and leaves make a shady green bower and bring the fruit right to your table with a quick snip overhead.
Pergola seating should also be special, whether sleek black or red for a contemporary look feel or in folksy wooden detail for a more craftsman effect.
In fact all kinds of sectioning work well in a tiny garden to create visual interest and create a sense of space. Consider each part carefully for its intended use or appeal, from outdoor grilling to private seating and a special place for kids to call their own.
Lastly, don’t forget the power a few vintage items can lend to your small garden and patio. Even an old watering can, wicker bird cage or hanging cow bells can create a museum feel to your space and can be moved around or brought back indoors with ease.