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Outdoor Living

10 benefits of a tiny garden

  • 876_houzz_TinyGarden1.jpg

     (Little Miracles Designs/Houzz)

  • 876_houzz_TinyGarden2.jpg

     (KR Garden Design/Houzz)

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     (Jenny Bloom Garden Design/Houzz)

Gardens on a grand scale can be gorgeous, to be sure, but they are not without their drawbacks. They can be pricey to install and labor-intensive to maintain, and they need huge amounts of water to stay green. A small garden, on the other hand, can be just as charming and rewarding to spend time in, but with far less effort. If you have a tiny garden to call your own, here are 10 reasons to count your blessings.

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1. A tiny garden can offer your own patch of green in the city. If you live in an urban area and are lucky enough to have a bit of outdoor space to call your own, it makes sense to make the most of it. Treat yourself to some garden therapy by outfitting your urban outdoor space with as much greenery as you can fit. Add grass or a cushy ground cover, potted plants and even a vertical garden or climbing plants on the fence.

2. A tiny garden allows for bigger splurges. The good news about designing a pint-size garden is that with less area to cover, you can afford to shell out a bit more on materials — or even a professional landscape design — that wouldn’t be feasible in a larger space. What sort of garden have you always wanted? Consider ways to translate what you love into a small scale.

3. A tiny garden is the perfect size for beginners. When you are just starting a garden for the first time, it’s easy to cover too much ground — those seed catalogs do look so tempting —and end up with too many garden chores and not enough time. A tiny garden, on the other hand, is ideal for beginners as it forces you to start small. You will be glad you did.

4. A tiny garden is just the right size for one (or two). A little corner of outdoor space can make the perfect spot to get away, unwind and relax, without the commitment of a large yard. When lined with lush plants, even a tiny patio or deck can feel like a secret garden made just for you. To maximize privacy from neighbors, consider adding tall trellises or potted trees to create a green canopy.

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5. A tiny garden can be magical. A small space begs for a dramatic touch. Why not follow your heart and add a really special piece to your compact garden? Consider a moon gate, fountain, sculpture, mosaic path or a special rare flower or tree specimen.

6. A tiny garden can feel surprisingly large. By softening the edges of the space with greenery and unifying the hardscaping, even a small patio or courtyard can look and feel much larger than its actual size. That’s the wonderful thing about plants — there is something about them that has a sort of magical space-opening effect. It’s as if some deep part of our brain sees the leaves and vines and decides it must be the beginning of a jungle.

7. A tiny garden can be a Zen oasis. Japanese-style Zen gardens are ideally suited to small spaces because they are designed to mimic the look and feel of a landscape on a smaller scale. And even if your outdoor space is too small to handle a complete Zen rock garden, it can surely hold a few beautiful potted bonsai.

8. A tiny garden can be lush. Fill in your garden with layers of plantings in different heights for a really lush look. Use a climbing plant along the fence (or use a trellis), plant a few larger shrubs in the background for structure and depth, and fill in the beds with perennials for year-round interest.

9. A tiny garden can be simple. Not so big on gardening? Even a few small pots of plants or fresh herbs on the balcony can make your outdoor space feel more welcoming and lively, without requiring any more care than a houseplant. Coordinate the color and finish of your planters with your other outdoor furnishings for an intentionally designed look.

10. A tiny garden can be whatever you make of it. Whether your little garden is in the city or suburbs, outside a townhouse or on the balcony of an apartment building, the square footage may be small, but your imagination need not be limited. You can use your balcony to grow strawberries and lettuce, turn your patio into a tea garden or plant a square of grass just right for picnics in your urban backyard.