With some tricks and the right choice of plants, small areas can be made to appear much larger. The best way to do this is to follow a few rules of thumb when first designing a garden.

Unclear boundaries

If the garden is divided up and can’t immediately be seen in its entirety, it will seem significantly bigger. Achieve this effect with the use of small hedges, thickly planted wattle fences or trellises. It’s also possible to make such optical barriers with individual bushes or high grasses. The newly created garden areas can be designed on a case-by-case basis.

More length or width

Leave the sides of a narrow garden open to make it appear wider. As long as you get along with your next-door neighbors, avoid high hedges or fences at the yard’s edges. If both parties are amenable to it, a simple bed or an unformal grouping of shrubs will suffice as a border between properties.

The arrangement of paths is decisive in how a small garden appears. A softly curving path makes a narrow area look unified. Emphasize the longer sides of wide gardens but, with square-shaped gardens, make diagonal paths. Differences in height will also open up the garden landscape. A more deeply laid path will make an area more spacious while a raised bed or an herb spiral provides room to create a variety of layers. Seating areas should be made as round as possible in small gardens to make the entire space appear larger.

Choose paving surfaces or ground coverings of small tile or stone and combine different materials with each other. But be careful not to mix too many materials and patterns, otherwise it’ll look cluttered. Water elements – fountains, wells, or ponds – will also lend bredth to an area.

The right choice of plants

Choose plants in bold, dark colors for the back section of a mini-garden, as they’ll produce optical depth. Light, pastel-colored flowers in the front section will also make the terrain look wider. A selection of foliage plants will give the area a fresh appearance. Try hosta or ferns, for example.

There’s no reason not to have a nice hade tree. Some good choices include small, round-crowned trees such as the southern bean tree (Catalpa bignonioides ‘Nana’) or the globe Norway maple (Acer platanoides ‘Globosum’).

Since a small garden can’t accommodate as much plantlife, it’s ideal when one variety offers several decorative elements. That might be an appealing blossom in spring, decorative fruits, or colorful fall foliage. Shrubs such as rock pear (Amelanchier), Flowering dogwood (Cornus) or a decorative apple tree (Malus) are ideal for small gardens.

If the area is limited, climbing plants are also a good choice. It’s especially popular in urban gardens to extend the limited green space up a building’s exterior walls. Ivy and wild grape are particular well suited to this, since both scale walls without any additional supportive structures. If you’ve got the benefit of a trellis or something similar, try wine grape, clematis, climbing rose, or wisteria. Don’t get carried away, though, with a small garden, since it’s all too easy to plant these too thickly and make them appear cluttered.


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