Stunning Small Garden Design

If starting our gardening journey on a 1/4 acre backyard urban lot taught us anything it was how the size of a planting area has nothing to do with what you can and can't plant. Small garden design gurus stress quality soil, sunlight, clean water and smart planting to create a successful food or flower plot. Now that we have upscaled our food production space at the new homestead, these lessons translate without issue and our first Spring promises to herald a bumper crop.

Small Garden Design

small garden design
The first decisions you should make with a small garden design is exactly what you will be planting. With these choices, you will further break down the when and where of your growing plans. On our little New Hampshire off grid homestead, we have a short greens season for lettuces so these hit the raised beds first. We cover our garden with black plastic to give an edge on planting time, but if this isn't in your cards, don't sweat it. For us, it perhaps buys us an extra week.

In our small garden design, that first planting of lettuces are a simple project, letting us space the greens accordingly without having to worry about access to direct sunlight. Once mid-spring and early summer hits, however, we're looking at placing our taller, more vertically-endeavored veggies in a way that doesn't create shade for the lower growing plants. For example, a climbing or staked tomato vine can quickly and consistent block sunlight for everything within eight feet of it's shade-side path. Beans and peas aren't as thick, but still can create stunted growth for those smaller producers such as squashes and root crops on the sun-poor side.

Small Garden Ideas on a Budget

small garden ideas on a budgetStarting a new garden can be costly, especially if you are dedicated to doing it right the first time and reaping the benefits for years to come. Save money wherever you can without sacrificing quality. Small garden ideas on a budget include using clean, non-treated reclaimed lumber for the raised beds. For soil, we use the old square foot garden method of gardening and rely on at least 3-4 different types of compost to mix in with the loam and vermiculite. Though we will buy local compost, you can easily build up your own as long it has a great balance of nutrients going into it.

For watering, the best budget-conscious system you can put in is also the simplest. Reduce your water bill as well as your chances of a great many leaf molds by going with a drop irrigation system. This is simply a connection that starts with a timer on your faucet to a standard garden hose with smaller plastic tubes coming off of that to the individual plants. You can pick up the smaller lines and simple-to-use connections at your local gardening supply or hydroponics shop.

Backyard Garden Ideas

backyard garden ideas

One of the biggest challenges to a small garden space is ensuring reliable pollination. Though a cherry tomato bush is gorgeous covered in petite yellow flowers, the idea is to have those flowers transform into fruit. For this you need bees. For your garden's supply of pollen mixing rascals you can rely on chance, put in a beehive, or plant with Mother Nature in mind. Your best bet is to take the Mother Nature route and plant some bee-attractants. Backyard garden ideas for common bee-tempting plants include coneflower, lilac, sunflowers and bee balm. You want not only gorgeous color but a pleasant, neighborhood-eating odor as well.

Other backyard garden ideas are to design elements that encourage you to visit whenever you can in order to weed, feed and observe. If you raise your beds, consider gravel or wood chips to add a sense of organization and style to your space. Attractive garden sculptures are relative to each gardener but they speak volumes of their personality. A short decorative fencing border defines a garden and invites guests to come view your handy work. A bench makes a great place to sit and reflect on your plants. There is no wrong decision when creating you own special space, just make it yours.

Garden Design Made Easy 

garden design made easySmall garden design starts with the basics of sunlight, water and nutrients. With these in place, your creativity is the limit. In the first year, grow what you know and work in one or two experiments such as exotic peppers or asian greens. Garden design made easy relies on flexibility and your ability to recognize when something is working and when it isn't. 

Know your space and what your plantings will look like at maturity. That cute little butternut squash plant will spread like the dickens, and more than one zucchini plant will have you begging neighbors to take their share at the peak of the season. Trust us, there's only so much excess you can share with neighbors after your own canning is done before they stop answering the door when you knock. Plant you garden with a balance of 'just enough' and 'not too much.'

We love gardening and entering the season with new suggestions to try out. Make our day and share your small garden design tips and stories by responding in the comments below.