It is not always easy, when faced with such a wide variety of garden styles, to decide which one would best suit your small yard. It is hard too, when looking at a site, to envision how it can be transformed into anything stylish. Looking at your personal style, and that of the building you live in, will point you in the right direction.
Interpreting Your Style Outside
Seek to evolve a style outside that suits your personality, because your garden, like your clothes or your kitchen, should be an expression of your own taste. It may be that you go for the clear-cut look, or perhaps a relaxed, jumbled effect. An urban French couple, for example, might well find the randomness of an English garden hard to cope with, hating the apparent disorder, while, conversely, someone happy in this type of garden might find the clipped, classic order of a typical French garden too disciplined and restrictive.
Your garden design should be suited to your lifestyle, too. Ask yourself how much time or inclination you have to tend plants. If you are green-fingered and enjoy nurturing plants, then provide yourself with plenty of greenery, room for your gardening equipment, and a table for potting.
If, on the other hand, you have a hectic schedule that leaves little time for gardening, or you spend a lot of time away from your home, you would be better off with a landscape design that requires little maintenance. Such a garden relies on the textures and colors of its structure, and perhaps a trompe l’oeil, a piece of sculpture, and a few large plants in pots to provide the interest.
Using Your Space
Decide also how you want to use your outside space. For instance, do you enjoy entertaining outside and want a table, chairs and a barbecue grill, or do you need space for your children to play or even a small dog to run in? There are many ways of styling outside space so you can get maximum use from it. You might, for instance, have a space that gets little sun and is not very conducive to daytime use, but when planted with lilies and other scented plants makes a fragrant evening retreat.
Or perhaps you have an urban roof space that gets full sun, but howling winds, too. Style a space like this to give you some shelter and also an air of privacy.
Looking at Buildings
We live in a bewildering variety of structures, from urban townhouses to condominiums to apartment buildings, including every size of unit, and the infinite variety of suburban housing. The style of your home will probably have already influenced your choice of interior decorations and furnishings. Let it do the same for your garden.
Every architectural style has idioms that can be expressed in the line and form of the garden’s layout, whatever its size, and the selection of materials from which it is made, be it stone, cement, brick, or wood. The choice and grouping of pots and furnishings can be an extension of that style, as can the plants that soften the overall effect. You can be purist in your selection and historically accurate in each and every detail, or simply engender the general mood of a style.