How to Grow a Beautiful Garden in a Small Space
I can’t believe that it’s the end of April. Because we have had such a very chilly April, we just this past weekend planted all our flower pots and planters in the front and backyard. Normally our planting would have been completed 2 weeks ago and the flowers would be settling in, filling out and spreading. Since that’s not happening yet, I wanted to show you how our back yard looked a year ago at the beginning of May and give you several tips on how to grow a beautiful garden in a small space.
We don’t have a large backyard and what we do have is made up of a small swimming pool, hardscape and 2 large planting areas. Across our back yard is a 4 1/2 foot tall metal fence that is about 70 feet long. We love flowers and in order to have a profusion of color, we have to plant in containers, which means hayracks, metal urns, even a wrought~iron baby carriage, and ceramic and terra cotta pots. The effect is stunning when you look outside. It’s taken us a few years to figure out how to grow a beautiful garden in a small space, but now we feel like pros.
Container flowers grown in any garden need the right amount of sun and rain (and watering when it doesn’t) and fertilizing and love and care. Because we don’t have any grass, we rely on the backdrop of trees in the greenbelt behind our metal fence for greenery, planters and hayracks on the fence for color and the pool for ~what? cool blue ambiance.
How to Grow a Beautiful Garden in a Small Space
Normally, I plant our hay racks and planters in mid~April, after we are 100% sure that the last frost is over. Each year we get better at determining the sun requirements for different plants that can be grown in containers. So I’d thought I’d share how to grow a beautiful garden in a small space. Because when you are fortunate to have something beautiful to enjoy everyday, that’s what you want to do. Last year I spent one morning last week killing 2 birds ~ enjoying the backyard and taking pictures with my Canon Rebel T5. It was part of a photography exercise: spend 30 minutes in one place taking as many pictures as you can.
Let’s Take a Walk Through the Garden
Let’s start with the hayracks across our 70~foot long back fence. We have 8 ~ 2 ar 36″ long and 6 are 30″ long. All of them are about 8″ deep. Our backyard and the metal fence runs from south to north. Depending on the time of day, from one end of the yard to the other, we have shade to morning sun to filtered afternoon sun to direct sun. We have to select plants with different requirements. For shade, we use lemon drops, Persian shield, impatiens, caladiums, begonias, torenia, splash and creeping jenny.
For the sunnier side, I use new wave petunias, dahlberg daisies, melampodium, dianthus, bachelor buttons, million belles, potato vines, gomphrena and other plants I can’t remember the names of.
On the wooden fence on the south side of our yard, we have this planter that I found in an antique mall in McKinney, Texas, filled with morning shade and afternoon filtered sun plants ~ lemon drop, vinca, Persian shield, and New Guinea Impatiens. I used sheet moss to line the planter.
We have a “baby stroller” that I bought in Fredericksburg, Texas, years ago. I line it with with a coconut liner on the inside, then sheet moss and chicken wire.
We have 2 of these planters, one I bought here in Dallas and then I found another one in Fredericksburg, Texas.
Our geraniums looked better last year than ever before. Usually, they will be pretty until July, but once it starts getting really hot, they will just wilt. If we keep watering them, they will perk back up and rebloom in late September. That’s mint in the white galvanized pan that I found at a flea market . We drilled a hole in it for drainage.
These New Guinea Impatiens, double impatiens, and caladiums are doing really well in one of the terra~cotta planters that I painted.
Our basil is flourishing and it’s about time to make a big batch of pesto.
On the northern side of our yard is the banana tree that Sweet Shark planted 4 years ago. When it freezes, he cuts it back to the ground and in the spring it comes back with more “baby banana” trees. It’s about time to cut a few down. It’s about 8 feet tall right now, but will soon more than double in size.
I added this grouping by the back door step: a large galvanized planter we already had, a pail that was blue which I spray painted silver and we drilled a hole in the bottom for drainage, and a watering can I recently bought a couple of years ago at a flea market.
In 2 other galvanized pails, I planted lavender. Again, be sure to drill holes in the bottom for drainage.
Outside our backdoor behind the kitchen and breakfast room is a large flower bed. When we moved in the house 5 years ago, there was nothing there except an existing Japanese Maple. Now it provides shade for our leopard plant, hostas, coleus, and mondo grass. In a few weeks we’ll plant caladium bulbs. The stepping stones lead through the flower bed and around the side of the house. I love that the leopard plant and the hostas come back every year.
I’ve had these 4 fence sections for years and I constantly move them around. Right now they are protecting some new plants from Lovely Layla, our Lab who likes to sit there.
Wood ferns, hostas, and liriope fill in the plantings. All these are perennials that come back year after year. In mid to late May, sweet Shark will plant caladium bulbs, usually in white which gives a great contrast with all the green foliage.
Our hydrangea is 5 years old this year. Last year was its most beautiful ~ more blooms which are pink, blue and lavender. I’ve never had a hydrangea that had different color blooms on the same bush.
Tips for Creating a Beautiful Garden in a Small Space
Here are 10 tips that we have learned over the years for gardening in a small space.
- use a variety of color, texture, and shape.
- remember the “thriller, filler and spiller” rule for creating a sense of fullness to your pots and containers.
- start small; I try to find 4~inch pots. In small containers, plants still grow fast. If you start with large plants, they will take over the limited space in no time.
- think contrast in color and texture; not just the color of the flowers, but the color of the foliage.
- read the labels so you know the sun and water requirements.
- put “like” plants together: those that like shade or sun, and those that need more water.
- use a variety of containers to create interest:different materials, sizes, colors, and shapes.
- make sure your containers have good drainage.
- it’s better to water deep and thoroughly and less often rather than just watering the surface of the plants and every day. (Caveat: in July, we sometimes have to water everyday, especially if it’s windy; the heat and wind dry out the plants so quickly.)
- buy plants that are adapted to your climate; otherwise, no matter how pretty the flowers look in the nursery, if they are not adapted to your particular climate, they will die, wasting your time and money.
That’s the end of the garden tour of our backyard as it looked last spring. I hope you enjoyed it, and if you have a small yard, are inspired to see how to grow a beautiful garden in a small space. In a week or so, I’ll share how this year’s flowers are coming along. Until then, I think I’ll head outside for another leisurely stroll. And then I think I’ll have a glass of sweet iced tea and listen to the birds singing.
Wish you were here.
One of the prettiest gardens I’ve seen! You really do a great job.
Stacey, you are the sweetest. Hasn’t it been a beautiful spring?
Thanks sweet friend. A lot of work, but now we can just enjoy the rest of the spring and summer. Still have to water!
Your hayracks are just beautiful. Ah, hydrangeas! One day I will grow them successfully. That is very strange that your peony buds died. Maybe someone will be able to give you some clues what caused that.
Judith, thank you. Yes, I would love to know what happened to my peonies!
Your garden is so well thought out and planned. Everything is beautiful and what an inspiration! Thank you for sharing with us at Celebrate Your Story, and I hope you’re having a great weekend.
Sandra, when you have as little space as we do, every inch has to count. I do miss our acre lot and all the expanse of grass, but our current yard is easier to take care of.
Your garden is beautiful and you really have a lot of imaginative ways to use the hard space. I’ll refer back to your post.
It’s very odd not to see blooms right now—hope we have an Indian Summer to enjoy a whole summer!
Thank you so much, Jane. I hope this year’s garden is just as pretty as last year’s.
That Basil looks big and healthy. I love your small space containers.
Carol, what a beautiful yard you have! It’s just gorgeous! You do such a wonderful job! Enjoy!
Mary~Ann from Canada, thank you for your nice comment and for visiting from Canada. Please drop by again.
Your garden is pretty.
I love these ideas! I have a small container garden on my balcony, so I can definitely apply these tips to my garden. Thank you for sharing!
So many great suggestions! Your back yard is beautiful. I’ve only recently started plantings on the patio (we are in the harsh midwest — scorching summers) but I have to be careful! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm! xo Kathleen
I loved the baby carriage planter. Have found something similar that looks like a tea cart. I’m a bit confused on why, how you line with chicken wire?
Debbie, thanks so much. The metal side bars of the baby carriage are really far apart and I used the chicken wire that year to keep the moss and dirt from falling out. Since then, I keep lining it with more coconut filler and that seems to work also.
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