Small-Space Gardening

You Don't Need Lots of Space To Have An Amazing Garden

Even those fortunate enough to have a huge yard may have a small side yard or patio that needs an intimate design for a smaller space. Or you may desire to create an inviting vignette within a vast space. And condo and apartment dwellers can grow an array of plants on a deck or balcony.

Keys to Design
Consider the various ways you look at your garden. The vignette from your kitchen or dining room window or the views you encounter as you walk to and from the garage should be factored into your plan. Often, you can take advantage of a neighbor’s tree as a visual element for your own space. The areas you see most often can be designed as all-season beds and include an array of plant types, including evergreens, deciduous shrubs with interesting branch structure, and early- and late-blooming perennials.

Just as in a small interior room, clutter can make an outdoor space feel cramped, so keep accessories to a minimum. A mirror in the garden is one décor element that really pays off, as it reflects light and adds a multiplier effect to the plants and colors in your space. Painting perimeter walls or fencing dark green also can create an air of expansiveness.

If garbage bins or a neighbor’s kitchen window intrude in your space, plant a compact screening hedge. Or build a lattice corral for the bins and enhance it with a short vine or small evergreen shrub. If you use a common variety of conifer for a screening hedge, plant the fewest number needed. If three will do the job, it will leave you with room to plant a diverse selection of ornamental shrubs and flowers that provide ongoing interest. Short screens are just as useful in pots on a deck as they are in the ground. Use a long, rectangular container for a formal display of three plants or a single specimen tree planted in a good-sized pot. If you lack room for a large screening plant but need to camouflage a blank wall, apply creativity. Woody vines, such as climbing hydrangea or shrubs such as pyracantha can be espaliered on a trellis to provide a fan-shaped design.

Choosing the Right Plants
For a compact garden to look its best, plants must be allowed to grow into their natural form, so choose plants that fit. Although you might love a wide-spreading tree, it will suffer if it is planted in a too-narrow space. Dwarf cultivars of large species offer many of the same traits, such as leaf shape or flower color, that you admire in larger plants.

Evaluate how much sun reaches your garden. To ensure color, take advantage of whatever sun does appear, choosing part-shade plants for partial-sun areas. Then plant denser shade sections with variegated selections, such as variegated hostas, that will brighten the darkness.

Gardening in Containers
A well-placed container can be a focal point in the landscape throughout the year. For a pulled-together look, avoid a hodgepodge of pots. Instead, use containers of varying sizes in a single color or a complementary color scheme.

The most important consideration is ensuring containers are large enough for the plants you want to grow. The good news is that there are many dwarf plant varieties on the market that are ideal for containers or specimen plants in small gardens.

Don’t be afraid to use different types of plants in one large container. You can use a small tree or shrub, an ornamental grass and several perennials with no trouble. As an alternative, use one plant per pot and then move the pots around depending on what is in bloom. You will get a new look for the garden with little effort — a garden that will be pleasing to you on more than one level.


Categories: Garden Guide, Gardening, Tricks of the trade