There are two rules you can follow to make even teeny-tiny garden spaces seem bigger, bounteous and beautiful.
Rule One: Use your intuition.
Stand facing your garden space. Empty your mind. Now walk to what draws you. Was it the center of the garden? The railing? A tree? The route you took is what some call the “path of desire.” You don’t necessarily have to build it; just keep it in mind as you decide where to put what.
Rule Two: Guide the eye.
Beauty is, like, an illusion, man. Use these guidelines to design your space and you can trick the eye into seeing abundance, expanse, order and balance.
Continue. Create lines, or visual paths, that carry the viewer’s eye through the space. A small garden only looks that way in relation to the other visible spaces. Use plantings, structures or moving elements to soften or hide the outline or perimeter of your garden area, and the spaces visible beyond it. That will draw interest inward.
You can also draw the eye outward to “expand” apparent size. Planting vertically will draw the eye upward, and doing so on walls and fences makes great use of that often overlooked garden real estate. Setting up dividers and screens — whether they be trees, hedges or interrupted fencing — within your limited space might seem counterintuitive. But if you can see through or past them to space beyond, you’ll gain the impression of larger grounds, just as a path that “disappears” around a bend or a garden bench half-visible in the shade suggests more “mystery space.”
Cluster. Randomness is a luxury of nature (and of childhood, come to think of it). Your small space will “come to order” if you create functional areas for growing, gathering, kids’ play, work. Order gives the eye places to rest and amplifies spaciousness. As you group like items, look for visual elements that your outdoor and interior spaces have in common, and use them to tie the two together.
Copy. Practicing the subtle art of repeating elements — texture, shape, position, color, size, scale, motif, even purpose or context – within your garden will both engage and calm the eye. You can achieve a simpler kind of harmony by grouping similar plants, but don’t skimp: Mass plantings should contain enough individual plants to stand out and impact your garden’s “big picture.”
See what a difference this makes?