It’s hard to come across great backyard landscaping ideas for a small-sized yard. It’s always nice when I can walk into a backyard, and there is ample amount of space for a landscaping proposal, but that’s not always the case.
I have come across many clients who have a small backyard but feel very limited in their options. Often times, they have no landscaping ideas for their small space and feel that their dreams of outdoor living is non-existent.
On the contrary. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
It’s challenging – I’m not going to lie – but as a landscape design expert with academic training and years of experience, I feel confident enough to go over 5 tips with you should keep in mind when you’re trying to design easy landscaping ideas for your small Calgary yard.
Idea #1: Choose your destination and make it cozy!
In Calgary landscape design, one concept I’ve always stressed is the importance of choosing your destination points. These points are often categorized as either cooking, dining, lounging, or play.
In a small backyard space, it may be difficult to fit all of them in so you may have to choose just one.
Ask yourself: above all else, what do you like to do outdoors? It could be as simple prioritizing an open green space because you value giving your kids the ability to run around. Perhaps you just need a small space for the occasional weekend fire pit party. Whatever the case, you need to choose a limited number of destination points and get ready to make it your cozy nook.
By bringing a private intimate feel to your small backyard landscaping design, you create an escape for yourself from the daily rat-race. This makes that destination point so much more meaningful. You’ve now connected an emotion to your little alcove.
Tip #2: Think vertically when it comes to small backyard landscaping.
Many people often look at Calgary landscaping in a horizontal plane or axis. Think about it. If you had ample space in your backyard, you would say something like: “Patio here, garden beds on the left, grass on the right,” and so on and so forth.
You are thinking about landscape design in a horizontal manner – there is nothing wrong with that, I do the same. But when you’re dealing with smaller spaces, the horizontality of the space can be somewhat limited. Therefore, we have to start thinking outside the box and look at the space on a vertical axis.
Columnar trees are best. Swedish Columnar Aspens, and if you’re wanting a year-round coniferous option, Columnar Blue Spruce is a great choice. In terms of shrubs, I always recommend Karl Foerster Grass because they are very hardy, look wonderful year round, and are columnar.
Landscaping structures like pergolas, privacy screens and arbour scan do wonders for your yard. The main thing they do is draw your eyes up, and anytime your eye links the landscape with the sky, it’s a wonderful feeling. Trust me, look at the sky next time you’re looking at a beautifully done landscape, it invokes an internal emotion.
Tip #3: Choose a focal point: Hardscape or Softscape
You have to make a decision. Do you want more landscaping or more softscaping in your backyard?
Sure, technically you can do both, but (depending on size) ultimately one will dominate the space. Your destination point will dictate that answer.
For example, if you want a lounging area, chances are that you are going to have a deck or a patio dominate the space. As the rule of thumb goes: 12’ x 12’ for comfortable seating whether it’s cooking, dining or lounging around a fire pit.
Conversely, if your destination point is to play, you have to decide if you want your kids being able to play sports (which sport?), or if you’re investing in a play structure. This will dictate the overall soft landscaping required in your small backyard.
Make a choice, stick by it. That destination point – hardscape or softscape – is the focal point in your small backyard landscaping design.
Tip #4: Form follows function
All design fields, both interior and exterior, have always adhered to a famous concept propounded by American architect Louis Sullivan. He said that projects should first intend the function of the space, then let the form follow from it.
You need to know what you’re designing before you begin to put forms to it, whether they’re rectilinear or curvilinear. Spacing and scale becomes paramount, and even more so when trying to propose a landscape design for small spaces because the room for error is so little.
This ties into our first tip: your destination point. Understand what you need the space for, then allow that to determine what size you’ll need it to be.
Once you establish the type (dining?) and size (12’ x 12’?) of that destination, you can begin to form it according to your taste in conjunction with the overall space you have to work with. Some like the rectilinear shape while others prefer the curvilinear shape.
I personally look at the lay of the land, the existing form of the house and allow those elements to form my form (no pun intended!).
Tip #5: Color and texture
So, you know you want a patio space as a dominant destination point in your small backyard. You also know you need ample space to entertain your friends on a Saturday night around the fire pit.
You’ve measured things out and realize you have the space for it, and have created a beautiful form that compliments the house for your space.
All done right? Wrong.
There is one last step: selecting the right product and color that will yield particular textures to your landscape. This, in turn, can make or break the landscape design of your small backyard.
Often times, landscapers Calgary tend to go with a small handful of paving stones to sell to the client. This is for a couple reasons: one, the cost is cheap. Two, it’s easy to install.
You need to fully explore different options (and grab samples if you have to) so you can try to match the house.
As a landscape design expert in Calgary, I always encourage my clients to understand the patterns and textures that will be created with the selected products. I want them to understand the color options they clients have, and then show them how my landscape design proposal will accentuate their small backyard.
Proposing viable landscape design ideas for small backyards or small spaces isn’t difficult. It just requires a little more ‘out of the box’ thinking and finding landscaping companies in Calgary that can do this.