According to University of Florida Extension, advance planning can result in an attractive and functional landscape that satisfies the needs of the entire family, yet requires minimum maintenance time and cost. Following this guideline as you landscape a small yard is key. When designing a small yard, remember that less is more. Keep the design simple, and pick plants you admire and that are low-maintenance. Simplify the yard by eliminating thirsty plants that will require a lot of maintenance. Slow-growing plants are also an ideal variety because they require less pruning over the years.
Create a "blueprint" or sketch of the small yard to refer to as you go along and help to home in on the design as you go along. Don't be afraid to tweak the design as you plant.
Determine the maximum size of each plant you plan to use to ensure enough spacing between the plants and to prevent overcrowding, something you don't want in a small yard.
Choose plants that are native to the area to keep things like watering, fertilizing and pruning down to a minimum. Pick flowers and shrubs that are heat- and drought-tolerant, especially in arid climates where water is limited.
Plant small flowering shrubs in the back or side of the small yard to create a focal point but without overpowering the garden. Plant drought-tolerant blue spirea, a shrub that grows 2 to 3 feet tall and wide, to bring color to the garden with its bright blue blooms.
Grow an evergreen ground cover like creeping thyme or liriope in place of high-maintenance grass. Remember, ground covers are often tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, and they keep their color all year long.
Create an easy and accessible walking path in a small front yard by spreading a 2-to-3-inch layer of low-maintenance and long-lasting stones like pebbles or crushed gravel. Refresh the path as needed. Stones don't much upkeep and last for years.