Make Small Spaces ‘Big’

Make Small Garden Spaces Seem Larger

Make Small Garden Spaces Seem Larger

There are two rules you can follow to make even the smallest garden spaces seem bigger, bounteous and beautiful: Use your intuition, and guide the eye.

Photo by: symbiot /

symbiot /

There are two rules you can follow to make even teeny-tiny garden spaces seem bigger, bounteous and beautiful.

Rule 1: Use your intuition.

Stand facing your garden space. Empty your mind. Now walk to what draws you. Was it the center of the garden? The railing? A tree? The route you took is what some call the “path of desire.” You don’t necessarily have to build it; just keep it in mind as you decide where to put what.

Rule 2: Guide the eye.

Beauty is, like, an illusion, man. Use these guidelines to design your space and you can trick the eye into seeing abundance, expanse, order and balance.

Continue. Create lines, or visual paths, that carry the viewer’s eye through the space. A small garden only looks that way in relation to the other visible spaces. Use plantings, structures or moving elements to soften or hide the outline or perimeter of your garden area, and the spaces visible beyond it. That will draw interest inward.

You can also draw the eye outward to “expand” apparent size. Planting vertically will draw the eye upward, and doing so on walls and fences makes great use of that often overlooked garden real estate. Setting up dividers and screens — whether they be trees, hedges or interrupted fencing — within your limited space might seem counterintuitive. But if you can see through or past them to space beyond, you’ll gain the impression of larger grounds, just as a path that “disappears” around a bend or a garden bench half-visible in the shade suggests more “mystery space.”

Cluster. Randomness is a luxury of nature (and of childhood, come to think of it). Your small space will “come to order” if you create functional areas for growing, gathering, kids’ play, work. Order gives the eye places to rest and amplifies spaciousness. As you group like items, look for visual elements that your outdoor and interior spaces have in common, and use them to tie the two together.

Copy. Practicing the subtle art of repeating elements — texture, shape, position, color, size, scale, motif, even purpose or context – within your garden will both engage and calm the eye. You can achieve a simpler kind of harmony by grouping similar plants, but don’t skimp: Mass plantings should contain enough individual plants to stand out and impact your garden’s “big picture.”

See what a difference this makes?

Next Up

How to Plant and Grow Fairy Gardens

Whether you're a beginner or an experienced green thumb, you'll find a book to help you craft a magical landscape for the fairies in your garden.

Plant a Pocket Garden

Explore Nantucket's island homes and gardens with author Leslie Linsley, and get tips for planting your own small space.

Small-Space Vegetable Gardens

Make room on your fire escape or pot up some tomato plants—you can grow delicious fruits and veggies even if you don't have much space.

All About Square Foot Gardening

Learn the pros, cons and tips for exploring this beginner-friendly gardening method.

How to Make a Combination Outdoor Planter and Privacy Screen

Gain some privacy in style with this easy-to-build privacy screen great for small decks or patios.

Ideas for Small-Space Gardeners

Whether you have a a patio or a windowsill, start a thriving garden with these space-saving ideas.

Small Garden Design Ideas

Don’t let size dictate style—pack a punch with your small garden. Learn ways to make your small space garden seem big.

Big Berries for Small Spaces

If you have limited gardening space, these dwarf berry varieties are a great choice.

Front Yard Landscaping Ideas: Tiny But Tidy

How to give a small front yard space panache.

The Joys of a Kitchen Garden

Good for the soul -- and the stomach -- kitchen gardens are more than just a source of fresh produce. They're a return to simpler times.

Go Shopping

Spruce up your outdoor space with products handpicked by HGTV editors.


Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.