Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern Coasts
February, 2004
Regional Report

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Daylilies dominate this tight space and soften its hard lines.

Small Space Gardens

Your garden may be small in size, but it can be huge in impact and personal expression. And even the largest gardens have small spaces within them. Solve a problem or seize an opportunity, but beautify that small space with plants and accessories that suit your style.

Design Elements
The basics of line, shape, and color come together in pleasing, small-space designs. Strong lines define and lead the eye. Use a contrast of lines to give depth to a small space: where a sharply defined rectangular courtyard exists, plan to add curves in beds, pots, or artwork. A small square patch of lawn is too often surrounded by sharply edged beds that are also too small. Let the lawn flow to the edge of the property and install a curvy island bed in the center for a decidedly more appealing result.

The shape of a rounded centerpiece planting soothes, adds more growing space, and provides a focal point that you can highlight with a sculpture or bird-feeding station. Control your color urges in small space to keep eyes and spirits calm. Better to focus on two colors in several shades combined with greens and greys than to try to paint a rainbow.

Problem Solvers
The space between the driveway and the sidewalk, and the dead zones between closely spaced houses are perfect examples of small areas that need attention. Too small to mow, too big to keep clean with a string trimmer, they can still shine and be simple to maintain. Fill the sunny spots with spreading petunias, or place an obelisk in the center and send up a vine too vigorous for it to hold so it spills about.

Shade can host bold textured plants and hues of green, like cast iron plant and southern shield fern. But add a white column, pedestal urn, or mirror to that shady nook for huge impact fast. The contrast of color and material surprises and adds depth.

Small spaces offer big places to show off favorite plants and garden accessories that reflect your style. Line the deck with a row of pots that match to unify the setting, but pick a diversity of plants. Select some to trail, some to grow upright, others for flowers, and still others for colorful leaves. This classic approach to flower arranging works in the vase and in the small-space garden, too.

Perhaps best of all, small spaces can be intimate, encourage conversation, and offer quiet, contemplative moods. Put a chair in a corner, or a bench if you want company. Arrange an assortment of pot shapes, plant colors, and lines that lead your eye in to the scene. See yourself there, and enjoy the comfort of a small space garden.

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