Herself's Houston Garden

Conservation through cultivation

10 Landscape design tips for small spaces




Another wonderful talk I attended at the Master Gardener Conference was about gardening in small spaces. The speaker has put much of his knowledge into an online database of over 2,800 plants and 10,000 photos to help us poor ungifted souls. The Online Plant Guide officially goes online early May.

Some of us are designed challenged. I understand and accept that I was meant to grow things not to know where to put them. I am learning. Here are some of the better tips I heard:

I. The smaller the garden the more important the details become. Pay attention to all the small details. They really matter in small spaces.

II. Things you look through make a space appear larger. Looking past tree trunks half way between you and a fence rather than at the fence will make the fence appear to be further away from you.

III. Proportion and scale are extremely important in a small garden. There is a huge diversity of plant material available to gardeners now. Make use of it.

IV. Use all your senses. In a small garden smell, texture ( touch ), sound ( of plants rustling) all play a role in your perception of the garden.

V. To block a street view use a low barrier. Barrier rows of plants a couple feet tall will often block out the street while leaving you the larger view into the distance.

VI. If the space is dark, thin the plants. You don’t have to take a plant down, raising it up by trimming lower branches and thinning the canopy will often brighten the place up a great deal.

VII. If you are going for a minimalist look in the garden plan on a rough ratio of 3 to 1 hardscape to plants.

VIII. Conceal and reveal views. Create narrow openings and paths that widen into garden rooms. Strategically place things to block views. You don’t need an entire wall to block something narrow.

IX. Use your vertical surfaces. Plants or art or both can be placed on fences and walls.

X. Use tighter fuller plantings, rather than several lonesome plants.