When designing small gardens, often designers think big. Most people would think designing a small space is easier than one much larger. That is not the case by any means when dealing with a space measured in square feet. Every square foot needs to count.
Large gardens are viewed at a distance, where in small gardens, one gets up and personal. Every weed becomes visible. Changing patterns of shade from dappled to deep and pools of sunlight, filtered or strong contribute to create the ambiance of a space.
The best small spaces are those that are bold and strong. Large furniture is used to add punch to a space and keep everything from looking trite. Trying to achieve too much in a tiny area can backfire.
So a balance has to be struck.
In a small garden, success is in not noticing all the individual components, but having it become the sum of its parts. But that is not to mean there is not standout plants in the small garden, especially those big-leaved plants.
Ornament or art should be well placed, giving the space a feeling of the unexpected.
Paths are a critical element to good design, but don’t have to be made from expensive materials. Even found or reuse materials make interesting foot paths. They can be softened and enhanced by having plants spill into the path. Not every garden depends on the splash of color either – some depend on the textural qualities of the space and the massing or contrast of the plants.
Sometimes the big splash is made deliberately by being understated. Click each gallery to see why these gardens make a splash.
Some of the difficulties of small space gardening is that it needs to look good all year long, even in winter where both built and plant structure, and hardscape really are the focus. Often a small garden is multi-sensory in sound, fragrance and circulation through a space filled with year-round color, texture and form.
Tiny gardens that do the things mentioned create the big splash to make them memorable.