No matter how tiny your yard, put every square inch of it to work. Grow plants vertically, in hanging planters and containers. Choose only two, or at the most three, colors for the flowers, trees and furnishings. Too many colors create a cluttered look. Planning is the key to a small garden that lives big.
Privacy and Shade
Gardens in urban areas often lack privacy. The neighbors in the houses next to you, or in the condos above you, peer right into your space. Create both privacy and shade with small trees or tall shrubs. The Judas tree grows to only 15 feet tall, has pink flowers in the spring and heart shaped leaves. Cornelian cherry reaches 16 feet and has attractive flowers and brilliant colors in the fall. Witch hazel blooms in the winter. The petals of its flowers unfurl in warm weather and curl up tight in cold weather.
Take advantage of vertical spaces by growing vines up the walls, trellises or lattice work. Choose deciduous vines if you'd like to let in winter sunshine. Pick the vine that's appropriate for the location and the support you plan to provide. Climbing roses need lots of sunshine and a sturdy support to tie the canes to, as does bougainvillea. Ivy needs a flat surface like a block wall to cling to. Clematis and sweet peas send out tendrils that wrap around the support. Jasmine and hyacinth bean twine around the support.
Decide how you want to use your small garden and define spaces within it for those uses. Place a glass bistro table and two metal chairs in a corner for a dining spot. A bench under a shady tree with a side table becomes a reading nook. Segregate the outdoor rooms with plantings. If your small yard is mostly hardscape, make liberal use of containers. Four large pots, each containing a standard topiary underplanted with bright flowers, sets off the dining nook. Place one pot in each corner to surround the table and chairs.
Create a Focal Point
Inside your home you've created focal points for each room. Perhaps the focal point is the fireplace in the living room, window treatment and view or a piece of artwork. Your eyes are drawn to the focal point. Do the same thing in your small garden. Your eyes are drawn to the focal point and the rest of the yard seems larger. The focal point could be a specimen plant like a Japanese maple, a birdbath, water feature or planted urn on a pedestal.