Tips & Ideas

Create Charming Garden Spaces in Small Yards

Tips & Ideas

We often hear the following: “ I think the space outside my home/apartment is tiny, how large does an area have to be to create nice garden spaces where I can relax in?”

We tell folks that some of the nicest, most charming garden spaces we’ve seen have been on high rise balconies and cramped city rooftops. We feel small gardens (with their long list of obstacles and restrictions), makes designing easier and more straight forward. A short list of options seems to force one to push the boundaries of design and explore something more playful.


For us, a sense of enclosure is key for any garden space to feel comfortable, and that’s a great deal easier to accomplish with a small space than with a large one. We don’t know if the “seeing without being seen” feeling is rooted in our DNA somewhere, but we know a place feels significantly more comfortable when it gives the impression that it’s screened off from the outside world. Vegetative screening against a fixed element made from wood, masonry or composite is a great way to create privacy in a small area. If a significant screening element isn’t possible, planted containers of varying sizes can help delineate any space and can create a sense of privacy and separation.


There are a few tricks to creating the illusion of space. When designing for particularly tight garden spaces, we’ll try to create a number of small rooms that the visitor can move through. We typically create these “rooms” using custom planters, furniture or planting beds. We also use different surfaces to emphasize the act of leaving one space and entering another and whenever possible, we establish a change in elevation to emphasize transitioning from one place to another. Turning the surface paving on a diagonal pattern is an effective and fun way to create the illusion that your garden space is larger than it really is.

View our gallery of gardens and landscaping projects.



Let's Discuss Your New Outdoors

Whether the project is large or small, Cross River Design’s award-winning landscaping team is ready to bring every client’s outdoor living dreams to life.

Contact Us