13 Creative Landscape Designs for Small Spaces

Gemma Johnstone
Written by Gemma Johnstone
Updated February 23, 2022
A garden with white wrought iron furniture
Photo: Andreas von Einsiedel / Corbis Documentary / Getty Images

Bijou doesn't have to mean boring

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Are you fed up with your bland little patch of lawn and want to give your garden a makeover? You might be worried that the design options are limited because you have a bijou backyard.

With some careful planning and clever landscaping, you can make the most of the space and turn your garden into a functional, fabulous space that feels much bigger than it is. 

Check out these small, creative landscape designs for inspiration to get you started.

1. Mural Modernism

A garden mural idea
Photo: Courtesy of Sophie Rae

Mural artist Sophie Rae (@sophierae_prints) brings some tropical vibes to a modest walled garden in London. By matching shades of green with the tones her clients already have in their home and garden furniture, it unifies the spaces and provides a cheerful pop of color regardless of the weather. The rest of the landscape design is streamlined and straightforward, drawing your eyes to the striking art and cleverly creating a feeling of space. 

2. Bring the Outside In

An open living space
Photo: Courtesy of Hannah

It’s no wonder bifold doors have seen a dramatic rise in popularity in recent years. They really help create an uninterrupted feeling of space and light, even in the smallest of homes and gardens. Hannah’s (@edwardianhouserenovation) narrow garden immediately appears bigger by breaking down the barrier with the open plan living space.

3. Curvy Bijou Backyard Oasis

A nice large garden
Photo: Courtesy of Sonja Di Leo

Sonja Di Leo (@Ichsehgruen) uses curved edging and informal borders to create a free-flowing, sweeping sense of movement. This soft, meandering line provides a more interesting visual journey through the space, adds extra depth to flower beds, and gives the impression of a larger garden It’s perfect for cottage-style gardens, where you want to create a natural and romantic look.

4. Pet-Friendly Landscaping

A pet friendly garden
Photo: Courtesy of Jennifer Olivier

Ugly dog urine patches appear even more noticeable on a petite patch of lawn. But swapping to small, pet-friendly hardscaping doesn’t mean just opting for harsh concrete pavers, as illustrated in Jennifer Olivier’s (@olivier.shaw) outdoor entertaining space. The river stone gravel and curved scaffold path create an informal “beachy feel.” Additional elements like the built-in seating, bbq area, festoon lighting, and planters all add interest and soften the edges of the space. 

5. Polished Fire Pit Patio

A patio with a firepit
Photo: Courtesy of Jocelyn Otero

A fire pit can be the centerpiece of your small patio. They don’t take up lots of space, and you can cozy up around them year-round. Jocelyn Otero’s (@Jocelyn_jujess) stylish design perfectly blends functional furniture, ferns for all-season interest, and architectural form with brick pavers. Stay safe when using a fire pit, and prune back any overhanging trees or shrubs.

6. Sultry Sanctuary

An exotic garden
Photo: Courtesy of Nigel Phillips

Nigel Phillips (@somersetjungleuk) transports you to a different world when you step over the threshold of his compact exotic garden. Slow-growing cacti and succulents won’t overwhelm a small garden space and can be surprisingly low-maintenance. When designing a Xeriscape landscape, make sure you select species that are hardy in your region.

7. Lose the Lawn

A multiple functional garden
Photo: Courtesy of Emily Hillier

This contemporary makeover from Emily Hillier (@emmahilliergardendesign) divides the garden into multiple functional, distinct areas, making it feel bigger in the process. She uses lime greens to brighten up the garden's shady spots, and the “random” tiles create an expansive illusion. The black fence helps foliage and blooms stand out, making the garden's boundaries less noticeable.

8. Terraced Triumph

A small garden with a terrace
Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Gorman

Introducing terraces is a great way to enhance a small garden. It adds dimension and allows you to use spaces otherwise not practical. Ashley Gorman’s (@TayViewGarden) gabion retaining walls mix rustic and contemporary design fabulously with the plum slate gravel and wooden steps. 

9. Plunge Pool Paradise

A backyard with a small pool
Photo: Courtesy of Mareike

If you dream about lazing around the pool in your backyard but don’t have the space for a traditional style, why not opt for a plunge pool? You might not be able to swim lengths, but they’re perfect for cooling off, exercising in, and creating a relaxing ambiance. Plus, they're easier to maintain and don’t cost as much to install. This design from Mareike (@my_nordic_home_am_see) really imbues the vacation vibes.

10. Compact Concrete Nook

A cozy backyard at home
Photo: Courtesy of Rhiannon Lewis

Rhiannon Lewis (@Cardiffcottagehome) illustrates perfectly how you can create a cozy, contemporary, and functional extension to your home no matter the size of the backyard space you’re working with. This is the perfect teeny space to relax with a morning coffee or glass of wine as the sunsets.

11. Add Personality With Pavers

A gorgeous small patio
Photo: Courtesy of Ema

This gorgeous small patio design by Ema (@_sugarlema_) is practical and pretty. Using the distinctive pavers to follow a curved path to the bottom of the garden creates a sense of unity and makes the garden feel longer than it is. 

12. Tiny Tropical Nirvana

A tropical garden at home
Photo: Courtesy of Karen Cammish

Karen Cammish’s (@Oxford_home_and_tropicalgarden) tiki garden merges many distinct design elements effectively. The large tropical architectural foliage adds texture and creates impactful drama in a small space. Palms and other tall plants are great for adding a tropical vibe and provide a lot of privacy. Just be sure to select species appropriate for your climate and that won’t outgrow the space.

13. Crisp and Creative Edging

A limestone paver patio and outdoor furniture
Photo: Courtesy of Sarah and Dave Alderton

Husband and wife team Sarah and Dave Alderton (@did_it_ourselves) have combined various elements in this small space to great effect. The brick edging defines the limestone paver patio, and the black gate and outdoor furniture blend in to allow the foliage and raised bed tiles to be the stars of the show.

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