Oct 27, 2009

Landscaping Small Spaces, Part 3

As much as I love the possibilities afforded by designing larger estate landscapes (as in, trees! I actually get to spec trees!), small gardens hold a special place in my heart as well. Here's the third of five bite-size tips to make the most of bite-size spaces:

Think big. Small spaces get cluttered quickly, so resist the temptation to landscape on a petite scale. Instead, make a statement with a chunky, oversized pergola; boulders large enough to sit on; or a dramatic container that takes command of the space. Mirrors (or polished steel plates) can be used to reflect light and enlarge views; and large gates or doors, either freestanding or mounted on fences or walls, create the illusion of additional space beyond. Limit your planting palette to just a handful of species; it's far more effective to use a dozen each of three different plants, than three each of a dozen species. And if there's not enough space for all the full-size dining chairs you'd like, consider framing the dining area with a wood bench that will both define the room and provide additional seating when it's needed.

Next, I'll write about my fourth tip for landscaping small spaces: Get wet.


Lynne said...

Loving this series, and your approach to small spaces. I used to be a judge for my city's "beautiful gardens" competition, and I can honestly say that the gardens which charmed me the most were the small ones. I think it is easy to create a beautiful big garden, but capturing several nuances in harmony within a small space is so much more challenging.

John said...

Lynne, you're absolutely right, and I love your word "harmony." I believe nature is a chaotic system, which means every element we add will fall out of tune over time. Big gardens are the symphony, with lots of places for mistakes to hide and trumpets to cover the strings' off notes. Small gardens are the woodwind trio: whether you hit the notes or don't, everyone knows it.