Some­times smaller is bet­ter

Right plant, right place is very im­por­tant in tight space

South Shore Breaker - - HOMES - CAR­SON ARTHUR editor@southshore­breaker.ca

Be­lieve it or not, my favourite out­door spa­ces to de­sign are the small ones. I love cre­at­ing pre­fect vi­gnettes where all the de­tails work to­gether in a vis­ual snap­shot.

For me, suc­cess in a small gar­den de­sign is when you can see every­thing at once with­out hav­ing to move or walk around.

Large ex­panses are amaz­ing, but small court­yards and lit­tle front yards are my jam.

Over the years, I have cre­ated a lot of small-space gar­dens for home­own­ers as houses con­tinue to get big­ger and lots start to get smaller. This was es­pe­cially true in ur­ban cen­tres but it now ap­plies to many sub­urbs as builders con­tinue to build gi­ant homes right be­side each other.

Here are my key points when plan­ning a small space.

Start with the pur­pose of the space. What are you re­ally go­ing to use it for? Too of­ten we try and make our small yards do every­thing. A small yard should only have one or two pur­poses, like a spot for read­ing or a place for the kids.

When we try and pack a small space with a din­ing table, lounge chairs and chil­dren’s play struc­tures, it quickly be­gins to feel claus­tro­pho­bic. I know you want every­thing (who doesn’t) but re­ally syn­the­size your needs down to that one use for your space and plan from there.

Be bold in your de­sign de­ci­sions. Small spa­ces ben­e­fit from strong lines, big stone slabs and even bright colours. Don’t think that mak­ing a bold state­ment will over­whelm a small court­yard. The op­po­site is true.

Bold state­ments de­fine a space and help to give it vis­ual pur­pose. I love go­ing with a large struc­ture like a per­gola over a small yard to cre­ate the per­fect out­door room.

I even will use over­sized paving stones to cre­ate a large pa­tio and to re­duce the amount of joint lines in the space.

Be selec­tive with your plant choices. A jun­gle in a small yard is very dif­fi­cult to make look vis­ually bal­anced. More than in any other yard, right plant-right place is ex­tremely im­por­tant in a small space.

Choose plants that pro­vide a long sea­son of in­ter­est. The longer they ‘en­ter­tain,’ the less other plants you need to add to your gar­dens.

Also, go with plants that have a vase shape, mean­ing they are nar­row at the bot­tom and wider up top. Th­ese plants will fill your area with­out crowd­ing each other in the bed.

Many de­sign books and ex­perts say that less is more in a small gar­den, but I to­tally dis­agree. A small space can have lots of im­pact if done prop­erly. Just make sure to edit your­self when choos­ing your el­e­ments.

One or two pur­poses, one large de­sign de­ci­sion, and a cou­ple of great plant se­lec­tions is all you need to have a per­fect lit­tle back­yard space.

As seen in

Car­son Arthur

Small spa­ces ben­e­fit from strong lines, big stone slabs and even bright colours. Don’t think that mak­ing a bold state­ment will over­whelm a small court­yard.

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