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Outdoor Living & Recreation

Ideas & Tips to Make Your Small Backyard a Blissful Space

Ideas & Tips to Make Your Small Backyard a Blissful Space

A truly blissful backyard will make you feel as though you have entered another world, far from the everyday, just steps outside your door. Your small but tranquil backyard will give you that relaxed “resort” feeling without the hassle of travel.

Knowles Building Centre has gathered some ideas to inspire you to create the garden oasis of your dreams.

First, think about what is most important to you. Are you an avid vegetable grower? Do you love flowers and shrubs? Do you need shade or crave the sun? Is privacy your main goal? Are you a nature lover? Do you enjoy entertaining? Maybe you just want a comfortable place to relax at the end of the day.

Answering these questions will put you on the path to plan and create your dream backyard space.

Recognize That Small is Beautiful

Gardening in small spaces has many benefits. You won’t need to buy as many plants, and you’ll need less time to maintain them. This will give you more time to sit back and relax in your new, peaceful, personal paradise.

Declutter What You Can’t Use

Before you get started, give away or discard any broken or unneeded garden tools, patio furniture, structures or decorations. Prune your shrubs, trees and plants if they are diseased or damaged, and remove invasive ground cover and weeds.

Plan Your Space

Design your garden with all your senses in mind, and for all seasons. Take stock of what your small backyard already offers and work with its strong features to form your plan. Perhaps there is a view you want to focus on, or a perfect slope for a rock garden.

If your backyard is a strip of grass or a patio, you have a clean slate to begin planning your oasis. Sketch your ideas on paper or use an online garden planning tool to envision your garden.

Create a Cozy Nook

You’ll want a private, shady spot for lounging or reading a book on a hot summer day. There’s nothing that says relaxation more than a hammock between two trees or on a stand. A lounger or day bed with comfy cushions and a soft blanket will invite you to truly unwind.

Combine Comfort With Practicality

Opt for streamlined furniture to make your space look and feel larger. Multi-purpose furniture will also save space; a bench seat becomes a daybed and can store items in its compartment. Stools can be used as side tables as well.

Think of Natural Privacy

Tall cedars and plants that grow to three feet or taller will help block out a neighbour’s view into your garden. You can also install a trellis, screen, or small pergola with vines to gain more privacy.

Find Shade

If your backyard is already shaded by a tree or your house, you’re all set. When you’re in need of shade, use a sun umbrella or sun sail, or install a retractable awning from your house to shade the patio.

Light up the Night

  • Add instant ambience and a feeling of more space with romantic hanging lanterns and solar lights along your pathways and in plant pots.
  • String lighting with soft bulbs will give your garden a warm glow. Hang them along the entire length of your fence to make your small backyard feel bigger.
  • Fill mason jars with fairy lights and place them in unexpected places in your garden.
  • Place votive candles on narrow shelves mounted on your fence to save space.
  • On warm summer nights, you can enjoy the outdoor life with a small table top stove if you don’t have space for a fire pit.

Trees and Plants for Your Sanctuary

Be aware of how large shrubs and trees will eventually become, so you won’t have to remove them later if they take up too much space.
Keep it simple! Don’t overplant, and avoid planting too many different types of plants and colours.
Select perennials that stagger their blooming so you have colour all summer and into the fall.

Make it Personal

To make your garden a truly personal sanctuary, think of flowers and trees from a special time and place in your life. Like that beautiful bouquet from an important anniversary, or the tree that used to grow near your dorm.

Plant Vertically

Tall grasses hide walls without taking up much space, and they make a beautiful sound in the summer breeze.

Plant towering sunflowers and tall canna lilies for a splash of colour.

Focal Point

Plant flowers and shrubs in a raised bed in the middle of your yard to draw the eye inward.

Ornamental plants and trees will give your small garden a focal point.

Welcome Nature

Attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds as well as friendly chickadees and colourful cardinals with water features and native, drought-resistant plants.

Choose Colours for Serenity

Planting deep green boxwoods or other evergreen hedges with white blooms will give your eyes something to rest on all year round.

Aim for All Seasons

Keep your garden interesting in the winter months by planting a mix of dwarf conifers, small evergreens, deciduous trees with interesting bark, and by leaving grasses and faded blooms in place.

Choose Your Heavenly Scents

Your garden will be bursting with scent at the first sign of spring if you plant hyacinth, muscari, tulip and daffodil bulbs in the fall.

Choose from a multitude of native and drought-resistant perennials to ensure long-lasting colour and fragrance throughout the seasons.

Plant flowering bushes like the butterfly bush, dwarf honeysuckle and peonies near your windows and along pathways.

Your garden wouldn’t be complete without some aromatic herbs like rosemary, thyme, fennel, lemon verbena and lavender to bring your favourite dishes to life.

If you have the space, plant a magnolia tree, crab apple or lilac for glorious spring blossoms.

Tempt Your Tastebuds

An edible garden will add to the wonder of your small and blissful backyard. Enjoy fresh cherry tomatoes with basil and other fresh herbs. Plant some easy-to-grow beans, radishes, onions and lettuce in raised garden beds for an instant feast.

If your yard has a sunny corner and rich fertile soil, plant strawberry plants and raspberry bushes for the ultimate summer treat.

Opt for a Tender Touch

Prickly bushes and thorns are not the best choices for a blissful space, where you are bound to brush against them, so select thornless varieties.

Find Your Soothing Sounds

Trickling water from a small tabletop fountain will muffle the sounds of traffic and attract songbirds and dragonflies to your small garden.

If space allows, install an in-ground pond or larger fountain with a pump and water lilies for peaceful reflections.

Work on Creating an Illusion of Space

  • Draw the eye upward by planting vines and flowering climbers on walls, trellises and arbours
  • Make smaller, hidden “rooms,” with creative planting and different hardscape materials such as pea gravel, flagstone or brick
  • Add steps and various levels in your small garden
  • Hang mirrors on the fence at the back of your garden and they will give you the feeling of having more space
  • Make a winding pathway, tapering into dense foliage at the back of your garden
  • Choose a few large-leafed plants that will make your small garden look less cluttered than a lot of small plants with tiny leaves
  • Paint walls and fencing in light colours to brighten your garden space and make it look larger

If you need help choosing materials for your backyard project, drop into Knowles Building Centre. We're always ready to assist you!

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