Landscaping is an important feature of any home, no matter the size. Both large and small homes pose landscaping challenges. Always keep the overall goal in mind and consider how much space is needed for children or animals, how much maintenance you're willing to do and what your budget is. Consider drawing a scaled-down version of your home and yard to evaluate how much space is available and how you'd like to see it develop over time.
Landscape hardscaping includes all of the non-living features of a yard, like patios, porches, driveways, walls and fences. Expand the perceived size of a small home by incorporating outdoor living space on large patios and extended porches. A backyard patio with dining space and cooking areas automatically creates more livable space. Arbors, trellises and other decorative structures, when well-suited to the style of the house, add vertical interest and visually extend the boundaries of the house. Be careful when choosing plants for arbors and avoid those requiring constant pruning to keep growth in check. Clean lines and well-shaped vegetation reduce the chances of overpowering a small house.
Plants and Trees
Avoid over-planting around a small home. A lot of small plants, scattered here and there, look disjointed and lack cohesiveness. Use border shrubs and bedding plants around the perimeters of the space or perhaps in one well-designed front garden bed and keep some areas open, creating a feeling of spaciousness. Large tree species will dwarf a small home and make it seem even smaller than it really is. Look for medium-sized trees and shrubs and note well their height at maturity. A well-placed shade or specimen tree at the corner of a small house provides enjoyment for many years. Choose a tree appropriate for a space where it will grow to reach its full potential without needing severe pruning.
Xeriscaping is a type of landscaping where maintenance is minimized. Plants should be easy to care for--often native types, well suited to the environment. Turf areas are often minimized or grass-alternatives take their place. In areas where grass isn't needed or desired, low-growing ground cover is useful, as well as gravel and other hard surface materials like mulch. Xeriscaping a small house and yard is easier than a large, expansive landscape. But if the house is situated on a large lot or acreage, focus on living space in close proximity and let the outer zone naturalize with tall ornamental grasses, wooded areas and native plants.