How to give your small garden the wow factor all year round

Many of us are not able to have a large, spacious garden. We simply don’t have enough space in our backyards or the turmoil of every-day life obligations don’t leave us with enough time to maintain large quantities of plants. There will be those  (especially garden writers) who will call these gardens ‛too small’, hinting that they’ll never be able to reach the ‛wow factor’. But if your garden is big enough to produce a lovely view from the house and has enough room for a few plants and a place to sit – it could be just perfect.

The secret was never in quantity but in quality. There are many people with huge gardens that look lifeless and dark soon as the cold days of winter arrive. If you know how to treat it right, no matter how small, your garden will be able to boost interest and color all four seasons.  We will take you through some simple steps to bring that ‛wow factor’ to life and make it stick around throughout the year.

The Point of View

Before you start redecorating you should get a clear look at the bigger picture. The biggest mistake a gardener can make is to make decisions while he’s in the garden, looking around. That should be reserved for finishing touches. You will enjoy your garden the most by looking at it from inside the house, so that’s the best perspective to start with.

The Fairy-tale Kingdom

One of the best ways to secure the ‛wow factor’ in your small garden is to structure it like a fairy-tale kingdom. Those magical places of fairies and dwarfs are always depicted small, but full of variety. The first thing you should do is to compartmentalize – dividing your garden into sections will create the hidden areas that will enhance the feeling of magic. Although it sounds contradictory, dividing the space will actually make it seem bigger because you can’t see all of it at one glance. Building a simple arch can separate garden areas even in smallest spaces.  

In order to get the feel right, you need to be careful about the geometry you use. Although everyone recommends using curves in order to bring softness to the garden, all outdoor spaces soften up fairly quickly so it’s always better to create the contrast with crisp and clean edges. If you want your small patio to stand out you need to go for bold geometric shapes and it would be best to stick to straight lines. Same goes for the paving, but here these straight lines shouldn’t be laid with a flat edge towards the house. It’s best to make your flooring diamond-shaped in order to create the optical illusion of a bigger space.

The Magical Number

As you are well-aware, fairy-tales have certain rules.  And the most magical among them are the numbers, three being the most frequent one. We know that there are seven dwarfs in the ‛Snow White’, but the point is to keep it simple. So when it comes to flooring materials, the combination of grass, gravel, and sandstone is the further you should go. This magical number should be applied to the colors, too.  Don’t paint your fences into a rainbow and keep your furniture and accessories inside a chosen palette, but don’t forget about the color of your plants either. Of course, you can try a wider variety of materials and without a color palette restriction, but keep in mind that this way you probably won’t be able to create the consistency and coherence needed to make your small fairy-tale kingdom breathtaking. And be careful not to ruin the whole effort with unnecessary furniture. Choose the tables and the chairs that you can fold up and put away because otherwise, they’ll turn to clutter.

Going Up

Space can appear as a much bigger problem if your garden is a courtyard one – meaning it is enclosed by walls on at least three sides. This could make its appearance damp, dark, and tiny and overall uninviting, making them seem like the most difficult ones to make right. But the fact is that those walls (along with fences and garages) are the good places as any. You easily decorate your inside walls with mirrors, pictures, and cupboards, don’t you? Why not do the same with outside ones? If you’ve ever seen green walls than you know how stunning they can look. All you need are some climbers and creepers, and you can get additional blooms higher up with the use of different types of containers, from baskets to window boxes. They will definitely make your small garden space appear bigger by drawing the eye upwards. Additionally, if most of your plants are on the wall, the floor area remains free for lounging and dining, with a benefit of a living garden staying intact.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Now that you’ve made the space bigger, it’s time to make it shine. As you all know, Shakespeare has written a lot of plays that depict fairy-tale lands whose magic has been destroyed by conventional theater halls. What makes the magic still alive in the Globe theater is the presence of the traditional open stage that allows the transition from daytime to nighttime during the show. That moment when the lights slowly kick in has the effect of the true fairy-dust.  And this same effect can be easily accomplished in any small garden. Your garden will without a doubt look dazzling under the bright rays of sunlight, but that look will vanish as soon as the clock struck four on a winter evening. That’s why lighting is mandatory. If you’re worrying about overpowering your electricity bill there is a much simpler solution in the form of durable led garden lights which provide a great amount of brightness. They are perfect for layering that will guarantee that magical look we’re looking for. In the first layer simply light the paths, steps, and sitting areas. The second layer should cover all the additional features such as small trees, fountains, or interesting wall surfaces. Finally, the third layer should be a subtle one at ankle level that will make the whole place glow.

The Everlasting Life

Now that the structure and appearance are all set, the remaining thing to do is to grant your plants the everlasting life. You don’t need to go as far as the genetic engineering – all you need to do is to choose carefully. The foundation lies in the evergreen trees and perennial shrubs for they are the ones that will provide you with the rich texture during warmer months and bursts of color during winter. The next step is the flowering shrubs such as hydrangea, weigela, and pussy willow. Warmer colors in the winter months will be guaranteed with the use of evergreens – Daphne will provide softer pink and yellow tones while Photinia will take care for that striking and vibrant red.

In addition to these all-season plants, you’re gonna need to choose the others that flower at different times of the year.  Gorgeous bright colors of spring can be found in flowering bulbs such as daffodil, pansy, tulip, and peony, while daylily, rose, blacked-eyed Susan, and zinnia are perfect summer blooms. Mums, sedum, pansy, and asters look particularly breathtaking in the autumn, while your best colorful winter display consists of snowdrops, camellia, chokeberry bushes, and hollies.

Winter doesn’t leave many flowers around, but there is some fabulous foliage to make up for that, which comes in all sizes, shapes, and colors. The biggest show stoppers for a small garden are festival cordylines in their burgundy shades, but the Pacific Coprosma is also a glossy head-turner. Try to combine opposing textures and colors, but don’t forget about the magic number.

You’ve built your small paradise on earth. You’ve found the perfect balance, added some bright fairy-dust and populate it with an everlasting life.  Now sit in that comfy chair and watch it bloom.


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