A small yard may not be the best place for an Olympic-sized swimming pool, but it has some advantages. The key is to understand how to make the best of the space that you have instead of trying to fit a plan for a large yard into your small space. Keep focused on the big picture and your small yard can be a real gem.
Take Advantage of Your Small Space
Materials that are very expensive per square foot will not add up to too much in a small yard. You can create amazing effects by adding hardscaping to all or most of a small yard. Add a decorative fence to give your yard the air of a cozy hideaway without adding the bulk of a line of hedges. If you have enough space, you can subdivide your area into separate garden rooms with low walls or an arbor. Each room can have a different mood and a different function in order to expand the potential of your yard.
Just as big cities go up when they can't go out, your small garden can go vertical. Train vines up walls, trellises or fences. Think functional and train fruit trees to grow flat in an espalier style. If the idea of doing the training yourself intimidates you, pre-espaliered trees can be purchased from many garden stores.
Use raised beds to give your plants some protection from roaming feet and wheels. Depending on the size of your yard, you may wish to do container gardening instead of having dedicated garden beds. Containers also give you the opportunity to swap out plants for different seasons. Use tropicals in the summer and evergreens in the winter. Try using garden hooks to provide more room for hanging plants, birdhouses and bird feeders.
Keep It Simple and in Scale
Just as with a small living room, you do not want to overwhelm a small yard with overly large lawn furniture. Add a charming bistro set instead of a full-sized picnic table. This approach can be carried over to the landscaping as well with dwarf fruit trees, fairy roses and a self-contained fountain rather than a full-scale water feature. Avoid clutter by using one exceptional specimen tree rather than a variety of less interesting shrubs. You can also avoid visual clutter by keeping your color palate simple. Coordinate plant colors by keeping to just a few complementary colors. Use one type of material, such as wrought iron or natural wood, for your yard furniture or one color for painted furniture. Finally, choose multi-functional furniture, like storage benches, whenever possible.