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.

Landscaping Roof Terraces
Garden Design
Calimesa, CALandscaping Roof TerracesWhen it comes to design-as long as your roof can bear the load of furniture, foot traffic, and plantings-the sky’s the limit
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.

Five Excellent Small Garden Designs

Outdoor Living Room, Retaining Walls
Garden Design
Calimesa, CA

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.

My Garden: 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.

My Garden: 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.

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
My Garden: Growing Locally and Sustainably in Chicago
Garden Design
Calimesa, CAGrowing Locally and SustainablyA small Chicago garden deters from the norm

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