Turn Your Small Yard Into a Glorious Garden With These 5 Simple Ideas


In our last blog, we offered tips and ideas for upgrading your backyard to make it a space you can really enjoy this summer. This week, we’re talking about gardening. Many renters and homeowners neglect to landscape a small yard because they’re worried their options are too limited, or it won’t make a difference. Fortunately, they’re wrong – a magnificent garden can bloom in and elevate even the smallest yard. These ideas can help.

Section Off Your Space

A clear plan is the first step to success in any endeavor, and landscaping is no exception. Before you start digging, take stock of the environment. Are any corners of the yard particularly bright or shaded? Is there a spot where you’d like to place a chair so you can sit and admire your handiwork? By designating a two-by-three-foot space for a particular function, you’re making the most of the square footage you have and setting your garden plan up for success. Grab a piece of notebook paper and sketch your dream yard ahead of time, section by section – you won’t regret it!

Consider What’s Already Growing

Unless you plan to spend days or weeks ripping up every existing plant, it’s much easier to work around what you already have growing in your small yard. Research the plants that are currently in the space, and plant around them. If your yard primarily consists of low plants along the edges, like ground coverings, intersperse something slightly taller for visual variety.  If your yard is too shaded to sustain much in the ground, consider potted plants that can be moved into the sun as needed. Pots and planters can add texture, color and variety, while sustaining their own unique needs.


Taking stock of your yard’s existing flora can help you decide what new plants to introduce.

For maximal viability and cohesion between the old and new, do some research and learn what the best neighbors for your existing plants might be. While companion planting mostly applies to edible plants, including fruits and vegetables, there are floral examples (like lavender and wallflower) as well. Well-matched companions can shield one another from pests, provide one another with nutrients, improve the soil and more.

Think Small…er

It’s important not to accidentally plant something that will outgrow the space; plants with high growth expectancy will require constant pruning to maintain in a small yard. Smaller shrubs and trees like the vibrant coral bark Japanese maple will remain on the dainty side without compromising color and presence in the landscape. For a fuller, greener effect, try a dwarf conifer like a Norway spruce, bald cypress or dwarf Colorado blue spruce. These plants are best positioned in a corner of the garden, filling space without wasting it.

Incorporate The Fence

The difficulty level here is a sliding scale, depending how far you want to go. The simplest option for beautifying a fence is with hanging boxes. They can be mounted with S-hooks, nails or hanging brackets, depending on their shape and size, and filled with everything from perennial flowers to ferns.

It’s fairly easy to attach lattice or wire to a fence for vines such as clematis or honeysuckle, as long as you’re comfortable with trimming them every so often to avoid invasive behavior.

For the aficionados in the audience, however, there is also the option for a full-blown living fence, a favorite among environmentalists and homesteaders. A living fence is made by planting shrubs an equal distance apart and twisting their growth together into an organic lattice that will grow to be a literal fence of its own. They can be planted in lieu of or in front of an existing fence and can look absolutely incredible while taking up only vertical space in a yard.

No matter how you might choose to embrace your yard’s perimeter, decorating your fence with florals or greenery can change the mood of the space and make a small yard feel more alive.

Spotlight Color

A small space allows for beautiful flower choices to be showcased in full view, and many perennial florals are vibrant and uniquely shaped. Perennials check off several boxes

Colorful flowers can bring life to small spaces.

for those looking to populate a small yard with color and texture that won’t shrivel at the first sign of weather. Here in Thurston County, we’re in USDA Hardiness Zones seven through nine, and it’s important to choose plants for your garden that can thrive accordingly.

Here are a few unique perennials that can steal the show if you let them:

  • Bleeding Heart (Hardiness Zones 2-8) – these beauties will thrive in the Pacific Northwest, as they love regular water and shade and dislike extreme heat.
  • Asiatic Lily (Hardiness Zones 3-9) – this gorgeous flower can thrive in the ground or in a pot and loves regular water and partial sun.
  • Garden Phlox (Hardiness Zones 4-9) – While it enjoys full sun, this flower comes in a variety of colors and thrives in a compact situation.

Ready To Plant Your Own Garden?

These local retailers can help you find the plants and greenery that will suit your small yard perfectly:

If you’re looking for a new yard altogether, consider one with a landscaped lot from Rob Rice Homes. Connect with us to join our pre-sale list to be the first to know about homes for sale!