10 landscaping ideas for a small backyard

The great thing about creative landscaping is that it can really transform any space. Many home owners feel hopeless with a small backyard, but there are so many things that can be done to make a small backyard feel anything other than small!

By being strategic about what plants that you purchase,  how you plant them, and thinking outside of the box to what installations would make a small space come alive, the sky’s the limit with what you can do. You will want to really take some time to think of what you want to use your backyard for, as each plan will vary based off of your desired functionality. A backyard for hosting is very different than a backyard for sitting out with the birds in a lush garden. So, think of what you need and want and design accordingly. 

The best thing about landscaping is that you can manipulate the space with foliage, flowers, stone and wood to give your space added depth and design.

Here are a few ideas to transform a small backyard with landscaping:

1. Simplicity is best

When it comes to small spaces, the principal “less is more” is extremely relevant. You don’t want to have a backyard overgrown with big bushes or messy gardens, or a massive tree that shades the entire thing year-round. The cleaner and crisper the landscaping is, the bigger the space is going to look. Create a plan and work with professionals to discuss a design that will really open up your small space and create the illusion that your yard goes on for miles (or at least feels like it). 

2. Grass, stone, or wood finishes

You want to decide how much grass and how much stone or cement pieces you’ll want as the floor of your backyard. Designing your backyard takes as much thought as designing a room; the finishes you choose will determine what style you get.

Think about what you’ll be using the space for and go from there, and how you want to feel when you’re back there, and go from there. If you want more of a natural garden escape, then use more grass, foliage, and flowers. If you want a more modern, minimalist backyard for entertaining, then you might want to go with stone over grass and add seating and a fire pit on top. A big wooden patio is never a bad choice if you have the space, and can add some character to a cramped backyard. 

3. Create a live wall

Use fixtures to install or hang plants on the side on the house, or install planters and lattice on a fence to drape vines. You can create the illusion of a bigger space by going vertical and planting upwards. You can even install pots on the side of the fence or home to create an herb garden. Tack some mason jars onto a wood backed wall and plant herbs like basil, cilantro, mint (for mojitos in the summer!), and parsley to give yourself a never ending supply of fresh herbs. 

4. Install a fountain

A fountain is a great addition to any backyard, as the trickling water can make your backyard feel like an exotic oasis. A fountain can be as small as a waterfall down the side of your home or fence, or a little bird bath. Or, it can simply flow over a few stones. Your fountain doesn’t have to be a huge installation to make the trickling sound that adds some serious zen into your yard.

5. Add hanging planters

Hanging planters are a great way to have plants that don’t take up floor space in the yard. You can install slim metal rods to hang planters off of, or use your existing fence posts to extend planters off of. Having a planter hanging from each side of the doorway into the backyard is a great way to create a nice welcome into the space. And, the great thing about planters is that you can easily store them in the winter and they require no upkeep other than replacing them each spring. 

6. Play with shrubs

Shrubs and other perennials can frame a small space by adding different heights to the outline of your yard. Things like shrubs and bushes are easy to care for, and the popular Hosta is requires little to no upkeep (and they come in many different colors and sizes). A Weigela is a nice shrub full of color for your yard that’ll attract hummingbirds, while a Spirea blooms in spring, summer, and fall and can withstand the elements. Falsecypress is an Evergreen that you can have any way you like – tall, wide, or short. You can prune it to fit your space.

7. Make your yard the place to be

A cozy backyard can feel like a luxury with the right patio furniture, a BBQ or a fire put. Big, comfortable couch-like seating is so inviting, and can last forever when you store it properly. Place your patio furniture on top of stone to make it really stand out, and add a pathway if you have the space. A colourful umbrella or a canopy makes it an escape for the sun (and drizzle).

landscaping ideas for a small backyard

8. Frame to your garden beds

Gardens that are framed by stones, wood, or other intentional separation from the grass or patio can really make a space pop. It makes the garden look tidy and controlled, which is important when space is tight. If space is really limited, use wooden planters either raised or low to add some flower or vegetable beds. 

9. Add levels

Play with wooden or stone ledges in a one-sided pyramid on a side of the yard to get more into a cramped space. You can DIY these planters, if you’re feeling creative or get the pros to do it. A tiered planter makes a backyard look taller and more private, tricking the eye into thinking that the fence or wall is higher than it really is. Plus, it allows you to get your flowers or vegetables closer together while still being separate enough to grow healthy.

10. Play with curves

Using a curving garden bed, bushline, pathway, or edge to a patio can make a space feel bigger than it is. Any way you can add a creative touch to your landscaping features is going to give the illusion that your small backyard isn’t as small as it actually is. Use rocks, stones, gravel, or a carefully pruned hedge to create a garden that looks like it can go on forever.

Planning and creativity is key

The most important thing about landscaping a small backyard is that every item in it is intentional. When space is not to be wasted, you want to make sure that every flower, bush, tree, shrub, or piece of decoration and furniture is thought-out and intentional.

It’s important to stay on top of your landscaping upkeep when you have a small space, as overgrown bushes, weeds, and poorly kept grass will be more noticeable than ever in a small space. Choose the right greenery for your level of interest, and make sure to fertilize and have your yearly or seasonal check-ups from your local landscapers so your backyard can thrive.

Are you ready master your client’s small backyard landscaping tasks? Take a Tour of Arborgold and get ready to watch the small backyard clients roll in.

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