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Small Garden Design - Creating Illusions of More Space

While designing small area gardens does have some of its own special challenges, the opportunity for creativity is multiplied within these small spaces. It is possible to create more atmosphere and impact with less.

And while most people do a great job of creating beautiful gardens within confined areas, balconies, rooftops, and courtyards, the greatest challenge is still in making small gardens feel larger than they really are.

Because most small gardens are surrounded by boundaries, vertical surfaces, and can generally be viewed in a single glance, they have a tendency to feel confined, boxed in, and...small. So some designers use a few techniques and "tricks" to create an illusion of more space. Try one or more of these ideas if you’re challenged by a confined area.

Screen unsightly boundaries and hard vertical surfaces with plants or structures. Not only does this hide the element, but can also create the illusion that there’s more beyond and not just your neighbors wall or yard. Try to hide obvious boundaries.

If your garden is confined by walls, the color of your walls can actually have some impact on how spacious your garden feels. Darker colors alone have more depth. When used behind planting schemes, they blend and help make the boundary seem invisible. Overall, darker color elements help create more depth in confined areas.

Adding curves to your walkways, flower beds, walls, etc. can give the illusion of more distance and travel. The human eye can detect that there actually is more distance involved and so the mind interprets the actual occupied space as being greater.

If you have unused hard corners, make good use of them. An arch or entryway into a corner that otherwise goes nowhere is a nice element and opportunity to frame a focal point in the corner. It also creates the illusion of something more beyond.

Creating levels can give the illusion of more space. It creates vertical surface and appears to create even more horizontal surface. If your floor area is limited, otherwise unused hard corners are a great place to add a second level flower bed or element.

A little creativity might even enlist the use of mirrors. Think about it. A mirror or two placed in the right spots could actually make a garden seem twice as large as it really is. I hope this helps.

Written by Steve Boulden. Steve is the owner of S&S Designed Landscaping and the creator of For more free landscaping ideas, plans, and pictures, visit his site at

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