A snug space is no reason to settle for a grim little garden. It's possible to transform even the tiniest of courtyards into a lush retreat with simple and easily replicated details. Here, bold design, eye-catching focal points, and fragrant blooms conjure glorious havens out of three small gardens. Though each serves a different purpose, they all share certain features: They make liberal use of boxwoods to define spaces; all employ statuary to create striking interest; and each contains fragrant plants to perfume the air.
Inventive hardscaping is key to making the most of a small space.
[45' x 55']
Homeowners Nancy and Hank Carson wanted to create a tranquil escape behind their townhome. The garden, designed by Marc Mosley and Ryan Gainey, mimics the homeowners' classic taste in interior decor to extend the house into the yard and pull the yard into the house, says Mosley. A Classical garden folly disguises a large shed for garden equipment and also creates a shaded spot that stays cool during summer.
Work with what you already have on hand. The five concrete planters and the iron fence came with this home. The furniture in the folly as well as the statue were pieces that the Carsons have had for years. Repurposing the unwanted hot tub into a pretty garden feature saved the expense of ripping it out altogether.
New Orleans, Louisiana
[14' x 32']
When painter Alexis Walter decided to move her studio from a neighboring street into her own backyard, the question became how to make the most of the small area that remained. The idea of a formal, French-style kitchen garden that would be both productive and attractive appealed to her. Armed with an inspiring photo from Walter, Aaron Adolph and Jack Milazzo of NOLA + Design helped her achieve her goal.
Garden Advice: A small space doesn't mean having to settle for limited variety. With the help of espaliers, Walter is able to grow six selections of apples and three kinds of figs against fat surfaces. Drainage is key for ensuring happy plants in a city prone to downpours. An elevated bed in this space provides that.
[15' x 17']
With an awkwardly placed air-conditioning unit and little more than bricks and dirt on the ground, this courtyard once felt tiny. Architect Michael Franck tucked away the AC unit; painted the old, untreated wooden porch; and replaced the bricks and dirt with stone pavers. This small garden room became just what the homeowner wanted: a bit of an oasis for relaxing in the evening, with a mix of Southern and tropical plants to ensure the garden stays green year-round.
Unify the decorating scheme of indoor and outdoor areas to give cohesive flow and make them both feel larger.
Bold accent pieces, like the mansard-style mirror, are a simple way to add character to a small space.