Small gardens have a lot more potential than you realize. This collection proves just that. Whether dealing with a long narrow space behind a vintage home, a cramped backyard that lacks privacy, or a shabby garden at the rear of a brownstone the possibilities are endless. So don’t write off your 40-foot by 20-foot outdoor area just yet — with the right design, it could be an incredible garden.

Small Backyard, White Roses, Barberry Hedge
William Morrow Garden Design
Washington D.C., 7 Steps to Transform a Small GardenSee how an enclosed backyard in Georgetown makes the most of limited space.
Container Garden Pictures
Scott Shrader
West Hollywood, CAContainer GardensDress up your tiny garden with these ideas for gorgeous planters full of flowers, veggies and more.
Flora Grubb Gardens
San Francisco, CAVertical GardensWhen you're short on space, even the walls can be turned into a garden bursting with succulents, air plants, and more.

11 Excellent Small Garden Designs

 Sitting Garden, Tree Aloe, Boxwood
Scott Shrader
West Hollywood, CA

Richard Bloom

Airy Outdoor Rooms Extend a Seaside Home's Living Space

Size: limited | Location: Coronado, CA

Design Tip: Include built-in seating in a corner to keep your garden from feeling crowded.

Entry Garden, Cambridge Garden
Julie Moir Messervy Design Studio
Saxtons River, VT

Susan Teare

Modestly-Sized Garden Has Mighty Impact

Size: 80-by-80-feet | Location: Cambridge, MA

Design Tip: Use a living wall to add lushness where ground space is limited.

Small Garden, Tropical Garden, Patio
Lillyvilla Gardens
Portland, OR

Claire Takacs

A Tropical Makeover for a Small Garden

Size: 6,500 square feet | Location: Portland, OR

Design Tip: Step back and look at your garden with fresh eyes, then simplify and tidy.

Small Garden, Garden Fireplace
Scot Eckley Inc.
Seattle, WA

Alex Hayden

Terraced Garden Serves as an Urban Sanctuary

Size: 46-by-100-feet | Location: Seattle, WA

Design Tip: Even if your outdoor space seems overwhelming, pick just one thing that you most want to change.

Small Garden, Vietnamese Urn
Minor Miracles: Jewel Box
Mosaic Gardens
Eugene, OR

Marion Brenner

Simplicity & Structure Rule in This Small Garden

Size: tiny | Location: Eugene, OR

Design Tip: Think big. Ample pathways and gathering spaces are inviting, and large features are engaging in any size garden.

Outdoor Living Room, Retaining Walls
Garden Design
Calimesa, CA

Darcy Daniels

Going Beyond the Straight and Narrow

Size: 65-feet-wide | Location: Portland

Design Tip: You can maximize the livability of a small yard by taking advantage of changes in terrain to segment the space into different living areas. Dividing a garden, even when small, often has the paradoxical effect of making it seem larger.

Small Garden, Big Interest
Garden Design
Calimesa, CA

Small Garden, Big Interest

Size: 18 feet wide by 150 feet long | Location: Philadelphia

Design Tip: In small gardens where space is too limited for major focal points, compose a series of mini views within the garden itself, offering interest in every direction while using plants to provide a framework.

At Home with Scott Shrader: Photo Gallery
Garden Design
Calimesa, CA

Lisa Romerein

At Home with Scott Shrader

Size: 24-by-45-foot | Location: West Hollywood

Design Tip: Divide the garden into outdoor rooms that echo and expand upon the home’s interior, giving both inside and out more purpose and making everything feel larger.

The James Beard Garden Makeover
Garden Design
Calimesa, CA

Robin Blair Riley

The James Beard Garden

Size: 45 by 22 feet | Location: New York City’s Greenwich Village

Design Tip: If you plan to entertain groups, keep the furniture and plantings along the perimeter of the garden to allow for mingling in the center of the space.

A Garden Grows in Brooklyn
Garden Design
Calimesa, CA

Alexandra Abuza

A Garden Grows in Brooklyn

Size: 25' x 21' | Location: Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Design Tip: When selecting plants for a relatively small space, don’t go color crazy - stick with a more monochromatic scheme of cooler colors (such as blues, violets, yellows and silvery greens) - otherwise you may end up with a garden that feels close and confined.

Dry Stone Wall, Water Tough, Small Garden
Daniel Shea

Daniel Shea

London Garden Calls Day and Night

Size: small townhouse | Location: Barnsbury, London

Design Tip: Don't forget lighting to extend the use of the garden well into the night.

More Small Gardens

Garden Design
Calimesa, CAGarden LaboratoryA small courtyard in Venice serves as a showcase
Garden Design
Calimesa, CAFrom Dull to DistinctiveA small suburban lot becomes a colorful oasis
Growing Locally and Sustainably in Chicago
Garden Design
Calimesa, CAGrowing Locally and SustainablyA small Chicago garden deters from the norm

Rooftop Gardens

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