5 Ideas for Making a Big Impact in a Small Outdoor Space

Creating an outdoor space for a small yard or patio can be challenging; however there are several ways to make every inch count. No need to despair because space is limited. You can still incorporate many of the design elements used in larger outdoor spaces in a small outdoor space if you know a few simple design tricks.

Here are a few big ideas for a small yard to get you started:

1. Remember Less is More
Small Outdoor Space Furniture
Godden Sudik Architects Inc

Focus on quality instead of quantity. A few well-chosen key pieces of furniture are better than cluttering small spaces with unnecessary, pint-size objects. Look for multi-functional furniture that addresses different needs. For example, stools can be used as side tables or built-in benches can double as storage. Use a minimal approach with just a few well-placed plants and ornaments to make a statement. Dwarf or flowering trees can add greenery and color without overwhelming a small area and many varieties can be grown in containers.

2. Think Up
Small Outdoor Space Pergolas
Pedersen Associates

Add vertical elements. Changes in levels add dimension, make the space feel larger, and divert the eye from the yard’s boundaries. Overhead structures such as pergolas, arbors, or canopies add height and structure. Climbing plants, trees, or window boxes can add vertical interest and greenery without taking up precious square footage.

3. Create a Focal Point
Small Outdoor Space Fountain
WA Design San Francisco

Showcase a favorite sculpture or other garden art to divert the focus from a small yard and make it feel more spacious. A small fountain or pond can give your small space an elegant intimacy. Or construct a gently curving path that seems to “disappear” at the garden’s edge to suggest that more lies beyond. Laying paving stones or tiles diagonally can elongate the dimensions of a yard, add a focal point, and create visual interest.

4. Keep the Color Palette Simple
Small Outdoor Space Color Palette
Interior Originals

Sticking to two or three colors throughout an outdoor space will have a unifying effect and visually expand the space. Try using bright, bold colors in the front of a small landscape to make the rest of the yard recede and feel larger. Sometimes, especially on a small patio, all you need is one just-right accent to make the whole space come to life. A pot of bright red geraniums on a small coffee table may be all you need for that extra burst of color.

5. Define Outdoor Spaces
Small Outdoor Space Wall Seating
Outhouse Design

Carve out distinct garden areas and outdoor rooms for a feeling of expansiveness. A multi-level deck, steps, platforms, or terraces can be used to create intimate spaces. Or build low stone walls that define outdoor rooms and double as seating. Landscaping such as potted plants, shrubs, or a small lawn will also do the trick. Water features can not only help define a space but the reflective quality of water will make a small area appear larger.

Create a Delightful Cozy Environment

Whether you want a quiet spot to read and reflect or a place to entertain, use these tips to create an intimate outdoor sanctuary in your small backyard. The right design, furniture, colors, plants, and accessories will help make your outdoor space feel bigger and create the perfect oasis for you and your guests to enjoy year round.