Small backyards can be found throughout Houston in neighborhoods like Upper Kirby, Rice Village, West U, and Bellaire. Houses in these neighborhoods can be very small, consisting of only one story and two or three bedrooms at the most. Many townhomes and patio homes are also found in these parts of town that have extremely small backyards which require exceptional landscaping design skills to effectively develop.

The challenge inherent to working in small backyards of any kind lies in the limited amount of space available to design structures and forms. Outdoor rooms and structures have to be scaled down to reflect the size and architecture of the home. Trees and gardens must be also be smaller so as to not dwarf the home and consume what little open space there is. Hardscapes and decorative elements must be built in such a way as to create the illusion of a much larger yard than is actually present.

Perspective is the key to creating this sort of complimentary relationship between hardscapes, outdoor rooms, patios, garden design, and home architecture. In a small backyard, all landscaping elements are much closer to the house and consequently will bring a much greater visual impact to bear on its aesthetic. Patios are typically highly customized and tend to be constructed using very unique materials whose powerful visual appeal will offset the smaller size.

Furniture tends to also be smaller as a general rule, and walkways and paths must be very narrow in order to enlarge the appearance of the surrounding lawn. For example, bisecting a small backyard behind a townhome with an 18″ wide, winding pathway creates the optimal illusion of a larger yard by dividing a single space into two.

In a similar manner, organic design must also be scaled down to proportions appropriate to the size of the house and surrounding lot. Certain popular garden styles such as French, Italian, or Mediterranean styles most likely cannot be installed in their purest, most traditional forms. Custom modifications have to be made to them so that they may be scaled down to the proportions of their environment.

Large trees cannot be planted in a small backyard with limited space. However, a multitude of smaller species exist that will thrive in the Houston climate. These trees can be planted in rows to create organic walls of greenery, or they can be planted individually in key locations and areas of interests. When proportionally scaled against the home itself as a frame of reference, even smaller trees can be made to look like large ones if different species of different heights and foliage types are integrated into the landscape and garden design.

Another way to enlarge the look of a property is to build a decorative wall around the property. While this might appear at face value to work against to the idea of expanding space, the opposite holds true. Small backyards appear dwarfed when one can see beyond them into a larger lot next door. By enclosing the space, and then creating a landscape design within that enclosure, the yard will actually appear much larger as a self contained environment separated from the outside world.

Decorative elements can then be used to further decorate these walls in any number of ways. Planters can be built into their sides that can be used to grow anything from herbs to seasonal flowers. Decorative urns and pottery can be used to punctuate wall corners and adorn adjacent patio areas, and wall fountains can be integrated into vertical hardscapes to add a sense of tranquility by day and illuminated movement at night.

Jeff Halper has a passion for landscaping and landscape design, for more information visit Exterior Worlds you can read more about Samll Backyard Design or Landscaping Design

Full backyard design
By Field Outdoor Spaces on 2010-08-05 06:21:51
tags[wpr5-amazon asin=”B00957T4LU” region=”com”]

Step 1 – How to Design a Backyard Garden

Step One in my SEVEN STEP GARDEN DESIGN GUIDE – a DIY Garden Design Guide that will take you from ideas in your head to a PLAN of action!
CLICK here for the Introduction Video:…
This video looks in depth at finding ideas and inspiration for your very own backyard garden design.
It is broken down into three sections:
– Garden Styles
– Activities & Features
– Resources

It’s a simple process to get the ball rolling and help you determine what you want to do in your backyard garden, what you want to see and what materials or garden design style you want to pair with your house.

There are two main resource options available to you when sourcing ideas and inspiration for your backyard or garden.
– Imagery: Videos or Photos
– Reality: The physical world around you

You rely on Imagery to get ideas from places you can’t physically go, while you rely on Reality to get a more in depth understanding on how different spaces and materials make you feel.

Imagery is best found online. Design blogs, specialty sites, social media like Pinterest or Facebook, Youtube, or even just Google Images. Videos are also good resources because they show the garden in motion, and offer viewpoints you won’t get from still images.

Getting ideas from Reality is very important. It gives you a better understanding of the size and scale of items – furniture, trees, plants, materials – and spaces – large, empty, isolating, cold or warm, inviting, mysterious, intimate. Using your body to measure a space will give you a much better idea of the kinds of dimensions you find comfortable and want to replicate in your garden. It also tells you what you don’t like, and can therefore avoid.

Be careful of falling in love with generic ’38 Garden Design Ideas’ type articles. These articles offer “solutions” to problems, but are very inflexible. They may not answer your specific questions, or tailor the answer to your specific situation. Use them as idea generators, but be sure to let your environment and landscape determine how they come together in your design.

Step Two will explore “How to Define What You Want” to help you develop criteria for your design.
Links Mentioned In This Video
Garden Design Ideas – Context Is Everything:…
Garden Design Ideas – Tip #2 Clients:…
Garden Design Ideas – Tip #3 Design and Construction Process:…
Garden Design Ideas – Tip #4 The Image Itself:…

Follow Us At:

If you look beyond your specific condition, it is possible to draw ideas and inspiration from any number of different sources. And you can see that the internet is full of examples, tips, tricks and ideas for any number of garden types or areas, such as:

Vegetable gardens – raised beds, companion planting, interior gardens, herbs…

Specific garden styles – Japanese gardens, French provincial gardens, English gardens, Cottage gardens, Mediterranean gardens, Modern gardens, Contemporary gardens, Native gardens, Formal gardens, Coastal gardens, Low maintenance gardens, Desert gardens, Tropical gardens, Drought tolerant gardens, Tuscan gardens, Country gardens, Xeriscape gardens, Colonial gardens, Southwest gardens, Spanish gardens, Winter gardens…

Small gardens – small balcony gardens, apartment gardens, interior gardens, courtyard gardens, raised garden beds, pot plants…

Specific activities – swimming pools, ponds, water features, bonsai, trampolines, backyard entertaining, outdoor dining, hammocks, cubby houses, playgrounds, basketball hoops, tennis courts, water slides….

As you can see there is a ton of information out there, as well as all sorts of decorating tips and tricks to try out if you’re on a budget. The BIG PROBLEM is that they are all individual, separate ideas, with no connection or relation to each other. This guide solves those problems, getting you to look past the ‘thing’ and focus on how to make the ‘concept’ flexible and adaptable for your garden.
This presentation contains images that were used under a Creative Commons License. Click here to see the full list of images and attributions: