2817 - 47th Street • Moline, IL 61265 (309) 762-6226

How to Increase Garden and Leisure Space in Small Yards

Even a small yard can be a place of beautiful abundance. There is no shortage of landscaping ideas to help you use the limited space that you have. Multipurpose storage and furniture items, vertical gardens, strategic lighting, and compact plants—to name a few—can put tight quarters to efficient use and even make your yard feel larger than it is. 



Lighting for Small Backyard Spaces

When the night comes on, backyard lighting lets you enjoy your small yard into the evening and can even create the sense of expanded space. The key is to only light certain areas, like a pathway, or sitting areas, while leaving the edges of the yard in shadow. Good outdoor lighting also conceals the source of light, uses multiple styles, and takes advantage of people’s tendency to gather around pools of light. Here are some examples: 

  • String lights: repurpose those white Christmas lights into year-round string lights. Hang them overhead, on your pergola, or even around a tree. It’s optimal if they are hidden from view during the day. 
  • Pathway lights: they are a practical benefit for you on a dark evening, while also a beautiful way to light the landscape for guests. 
  • Hanging lanterns: they lend charm and make the evening more magical.  
  • Flameless fire pit: fairy lights laid on a centerpiece of logs can give the allure of a fire without the smoke and ash.   
  • Spotlights: I’m not talking about a stage light beaming down on you, but rather spotlights along the ground, on paths, or on walls to illuminate some areas while leaving the rest to the imagination.


Built-in Storage

Multi-purpose storage units always help maximize yard space. On the top of the list is the outdoor storage bench. Laid over with cushions, it serves as an attractive seat. But open the lid, and you’ll find a storage chest for garden tools or the kids’ toys. A similar unit might serve as a table, too. The crawl space beneath your deck is another obvious storage space. If you don’t want to crawl, you can install a trap-door style hatch above or a drawer extending from the side. The faux planter is another option, with storage underneath, and grass or flowers on top.    



Vertical Planters

When you run out of room horizontally, it’s time to grow vertically. Vertical planters are a series of pots that attach to a sturdy fence or wall. The pots are angled outwards so the plants have room to flourish. A shelf of planters is a similar idea, with wooden shelves and plants on each level. Vertical gardening of any kind, including vines and climbing species like pole beans, can significantly increase the growing space of any yard.


Compact Outdoor Furniture

You don’t need a reclining sun chair to enjoy the fresh air outside. For a minimalistic approach, consider using tree stumps with added cushions. They can also serve as rustic coffee tables. Folding chairs and tables provide more comfort, while giving you the option of clearing your patio when needed. A sitting bench can often be more narrow than you realize. A swing or hammock can easily hang above a garden, as long as there is a small footpath to access it.


Tiered Garden Beds

Tiered garden beds help you take advantage of slopes, preventing water and soil from washing away. But you don’t need to have a slope to use them. Putting plants on different levels gives them more growing room and better access to sunlight, which might be at a premium in a small yard. A tiered garden also makes plants in the background more visible to you. Unlike excess furniture, which can easily clutter a space, more visible plants, and more plants in general, can make a yard feel larger. How so? They relieve our stress and give us more visual interest, satisfying the senses that long for beauty and open spaces.  


Container Gardens

Container gardens come to the rescue when you’ve run out of garden space entirely. They let you add greenery and flowers to your porches, patios, pathways, decks, and driveways. Plus, you can change the planters through the seasons, or whenever you’re ready for new landscaping ideas, and you can even dress them up in the winter



Compact Trees and Shrubs

 Not all yards are able to have a towering oak or sycamore. Still, many yards have plenty of space to enjoy smaller trees, like lilac, serviceberry, eastern redbud, crabapple, paper birch, Japanese maple, hawthorn, and dogwood. For evergreens, you might try a dwarf spruce, mugo pine, or arborvitae. As for shrubs, you might consider a rose or hydrangea, and even smaller options, like a spirea or potentilla. Any dwarf variety of tree or shrub will typically serve you well in a small yard.   


meyer CTA


Good landscaping in a small yard expands your room for gardening and leisure, without changing the dimensions of your property. Vertical gardening, tiered beds, and container gardens increase your growing space, while multipurpose infrastructure lets you better use the space that you have. Sometimes better lighting makes your yard feel larger than it is, and adding plants gives you a sense of more abundance. If you need more landscaping ideas, feel free to contact our landscaping service or drop by our garden center in Moline!   


back to article library