How To Make The Most Of A Small Backyard
Written by Guest Blogger: AJ Earley
It would be nice if we all had a huge backyard (and an even huger budget) to work with. Imagine all the possibilities… a stunning garden with curving pathways, terraces, maybe even a bush maze! With endless space come endless landscaping possibilities.
Yes, that would be lovely, but not everyone is that lucky, especially those of us that live in urban areas where space is limited. Just because you have a small backyard doesn't mean you can't have the outdoor space of your dreams. One that’s perfect for gardening, entertaining, or relaxing: whatever you fancy. You just have to be a little more creative to achieve your ideal outdoor oasis. Luckily, I've got some tips to help you make the most of even your tiniest outdoor spaces.
The first step is to decide how you want your area to be laid out. All grass? Small stone porch? A garden along the back wall? Once you have your plan in place, you'll know exactly what kind of space you're working with and every other step will be much easier.
If you don't spend much time outdoors, you'll probably be okay with all grass. However, if you entertain a lot, some sort of porch or sitting area is definitely ideal. If you constantly have people trampling over the grass, moving chairs and tables and grills everywhere, your turf will get trampled and you'll end up with mud pits and patchy areas. Concrete porches are fairly inexpensive to have installed, especially if they are small. You might also consider using brick pavers to create a beautiful, custom entertaining area that will keep your lawn safe.
If you've got a green thumb or just enjoy the relaxing and healthy hobby of gardening, there's no need to fret! You actually have a couple of great options for creating a lovely garden in a tiny space.
First off, make more use of a previously unoccupied area and follow one of the hottest trends in urban landscaping by designing your own vertical garden. You can install a vertical garden along any wall or fence you have in your yard. You can even DIY your own vertical structure by re-purposing an old bookshelf, media rack, even a rickety-yet-shabby-chic ladder. This is a great option if you want to grow a lot of plants but you just don't have the square footage to support them all.
Second, you can make more use of minimal ground space by designing a terraced garden. Elevated steps won't allow you any more surface area than you started with (unless your backyard is uneven or contains a small hill,) but they do add dimension to make a small space appear larger. They also make it easier to show off a variety of plants than if they were all scattered about the ground.
If you've got those DIY muscles and they need to be stretched, you can also make your own space-saving gardening containers by using a shoe organizer to create an herb garden, or fashioning upside-down tomato planters from plastic soda bottles. We want to keep as much plastic out of our oceans and landfills as possible, so it's always a good use to re-purpose plastic containers whenever there’s an opportunity to. If you're an eco-warrior, you can also use any of these tips for creating an eco-friendly outdoor living space in any backyard, large or small.
Once you've got your "floor plan" down, it will be a breeze to utilize the rest of your space to its best advantage. There are lots of great ideas for getting the most out of a small outdoor space, including installing a small pergola or gazebo to add shade and dimension, or using folding tables and chairs that can be put away when not in use. It's also a good idea to make sure your outdoor furniture and knick-knacks are made of UV resistant materials so they last years and years in any weather.
Another great way to make a cramped area feel more open and inviting is to light it up. There are many types of landscape lighting at your fingertips: solar LED lights are a great option that is environmentally friendly and low-maintenance, as are low voltage and line voltage setups. If you want your backyard lighting to stand out from the rest, consider wrapping string lights around tree trunks or poles to create a whimsical glow, or DIY some mason jar or wine bottle lanterns.
My last tip for making a small backyard seem bigger is to create a focal point. Sometimes, this can be a tree or large plant placed near the center of the yard, If this is the case, you'll want something tall and thin and not short and wide, or it will actually close everything off. You can also find a statement piece, like a statue, birdbath, or fountain. Another great way to create a focal point that is useful is to install a fire pit or small fire feature that you and your guests can gather around to stay warm when the sun goes down or during the chillier months.
I hope these tips have been helpful for city dwellers, suburbanites, and tiny home pioneers alike. If you have any of your own suggestions, or just want to show off photos of how you’ve maximized your backyard square footage, please leave them in the comments!
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