top of page

Living Large in a Small Garden

When you have a gardening space that is on the small size, it can be frustrating trying to figure out what plants will stay small and work well in your space without overcrowding. Many homes and townhomes today have less yard space than they used to, and this is a frequent challenge homeowners ask us about at Riverbend. Many times homeowners only have approximately a 10′ x 10′ yard to work with, or smaller. These suggestions and tips below will help you make your own teeny space transform into a bright, cozy, intimate area that you love spending time in and sharing with friends and family.

Tip #1: Sunlight is always a first question to ask yourself when thinking about what to plant. If you have full sun (6+ hours of sun a day) to mostly sunny (full afternoon sun), these plant that stay small would be a great place to start.

Full Sun to Part Sun Plant List

Sky Pencil Holly

Little Lime Hydrangea

Purple Pixie Loropetalum

Blue Chip Jr. Butterfly Bush

Black Eyed Susan Vine

Happy Returns Daylily

Yellow Lantana

And if your small landscaping space is part shade (morning sun with full afternoon shade) to mostly shady, here are some great small scale plants to look into for your space:

Part Shade to Mostly Shady Plant List

Variegated Gold Dust Aucuba

Mini Penny Hydrangea

Golden Tiara Hosta

Platinum Rose Lenten Rose

Coral Bells

Impatiens and Shade Begonias

Tip #2: Provide a canopy over part of your small space. Japanese Maple trees are very slow growing trees that generally do not grow very large. There is a variety called ‘Bloodgood’ that can tolerate full to part sun, while most of the other varieties available love shadier spots.

Tip #3: So, once you have figured out what kind of sun you have and done some research on plants that would work (bring pics of your space, your dimensions, and the list above of plants- we would love to show them to you and offer other suggestions as well!), it is time to design a bit and think outside of the box. Where could you add a trellis (against the house)? Is there enough room that a small arbor could be built? To add interest, going vertical will bring you eye upward and away from the small square footage, making your yard seem more expansive and add to the cozy appeal. Adding container pots of varying sizes is a great way to add interest and intimacy, as well. Be intentional about the color of container pots you use, however. In such a small area, having several colors of pots as well as several colors of plants all together could seem confusing and not evoke unity. Try sticking with one color for your pots (and that can be varying shades of the same color- such as navy blue and turquoise blue pots), and you will see a more cohesive look at completion.

(photo courtesy of

Tip #4: Your small garden can host a number of different butterflies and birds! Invest in one or two staked birdhouses that are fun and add interest to your small space! The lists above contain many plants that butterflies are attracted to; in addition, butterflies tend to love brightly colored flowering shrubs/plants. Since your area is small, be intentional with the color you add. Stick with colors of flowers that look great together (some examples are lime green/purple/yellow or pink/yellow/orange) or a color scheme that reads monochromatic (such as lime green/white/yellow).

Tip #5: Add a seating arrangement. Even if your space can only fit a small outdoor bistro table with two chairs, go for it! Outdoor spaces instantly become more inviting when we can utilize them to eat and gather with a friend. Imagine a cozy dinner with your significant other or coffee and cookies with a dear friend. If you’d rather your space be one for solitude and rest, opt for a comfortable lounging chair and small side table instead (it sounds so nice to lounge and read a good book or magazine while sipping a cool sweet tea, doesn’t it!?). Whatever best suites your lifestyle needs.

We would love to help you design your outdoor space using shrubs and plants that will suit your needs and work for your space! What questions do you have for us regarding your landscape? Spring is a great time to plant!

106 views0 comments
bottom of page