Small Garden Design

 

With home developers and builders wanting to get the maximum number of houses on any piece of land slated for development, the property surrounding a house has been getting smaller and smaller. This can be true of even homes with large square footage. The bottom line is:  gardens—both the front yard and the back yard—are smaller than they were 50 or even 25 years ago.

 

Small garden design is a challenge for garden designers. Designing an effective small garden is not easy, but the same rules of good garden design apply, plus some extra ones:

 

 

Even in a small garden, you still need a focal point – The eye needs to be drawn to a focal point, whether that is a tree, a sculpture or a garden pool. A garden design without a focal point looks unanchored at best and disorganized at worst.

 

Trees – At DesignMyGarden.ca, we are very careful which tree species we select for small gardens. We don’t want you to have to deal with root systems of trees that are destroying your house's foundation, interfering with your pool, or interfering with the gas or water line.

Red Jewel Crabapple in Flower.JPG
Red Jewel Crabapple in Flower.JPG

Three seasons of interest is a good rule for selecting trees in garden design. Here, flowering crabapple 'Red Jewel' shows off spring blossoms.

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Red Jewel Crabapple.JPG
Red Jewel Crabapple.JPG

Three seasons of interest is a good rule for selecting plants for a garden design. Here, crabapple 'Red Jewel' provides winter interest with tiny fruit for birds to eat.

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Lichen on tree bark.JPG
Lichen on tree bark.JPG

Three seasons of interest is a good rule for selecting trees for your garden design. Here, lichens grow on the bark of a tree.

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A birdbath is a focal point.jpg
A birdbath is a focal point.jpg

A birdbath is a focal point in garden design. A good quality one is a delight to look at and sees lots of bird action.

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Weeping Purple Beech is showy.jpg
Weeping Purple Beech is showy.jpg

A weeping purple beech is an unusual tree and makes an effective focal point, or specimen tree.

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Statues make good focal points.JPGS
Statues make good focal points.JPGS

Statues make good focal points in a garden design. You'll be happier if you buy good quality ones rather than inexpensive resin ones.

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Everything in a small garden has to do triple duty – We are extra fussy about all plants we select for the small garden. Because part of a garden is watching the seasons change, our criteria is everything in a small garden has to more than pull its weight. We look for species with interesting bark and stems, flowers and fragrance, and fruit in the winter for the birds to eat. Selectivity is the key.

 

Crabapples, above, have flowers in the spring and fruit that attracts birds in the fall and winter. Dogwoods, below, have variegated foliage in the spring and summer, and stunning red branches for so-called winter interest.

 

Use the garden walls – Because space is at a premium in a small garden, we love species that can creep up on a fence or trellis.

 

Create illusions – At DesignMyGarden.ca, we can create optical illusions that give the impression that there is more space in the garden with pathways that meander off into the distance. Or, with trellises, arbours, pergolas, and garden gates, planted with ivy or clematis, for example.  

Witch Hazel.jpg
Witch Hazel.jpg

A witch hazel provides stunning gold fall colour in a garden design.

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Corkscrew hazel - photo Ruth Hartnup.jpg
Corkscrew hazel - photo Ruth Hartnup.jpg

The contorted branches of a witch hazel used in a garden design provide lots of winter interest, as the snow piles up on them.

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Dogwood - Cornus Alba - Winter.JPG
Dogwood - Cornus Alba - Winter.JPG

The scarlet branches of dogwood 'Winter Fire' provide a splash of colour in any winter landcape when used in a garden design.

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Clematis - Comtesse de Bouchaud.jpg
Clematis - Comtesse de Bouchaud.jpg

A garden design in Oakville, Ontario, uses a clematis 'Comtesse de Bouchaud' to grow on an east-facing fence.

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English Ivy.JPG
English Ivy.JPG

In a garden design, English Ivy can be used to grow up on a fence or trellis, as well a ground cover for shady spots.

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Clematis 'Rhapsody'.jpg
Clematis 'Rhapsody'.jpg

In garden design, a deep blue is hard to find. Here, clematis 'Rhapsody' provides a splash of Marjorelle blue to a garden in Oakville.

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Garden design and landscaping consulting in Oakville, Milton, Burlington, Mississauga, Etobicoke, and Toronto.