Even the smallest touches can work instant magic on an outdoor space. One carefully considered move and hey presto, that slightly shabby back fence, you’re not ready to replace, all but disappears. Here are some micro-moves that can make a big difference.
A cultivated pot
Even when your garden needs taming, one well-tended pot can make everything else look deliberate. Fill a container with annuals or an evergreen shrub such as boxwood or inkberry and position it near the front porch, say, or on the black patio.
A restrained plant palette
A kaleidoscope of plant colours dizzies the eye instead of calming it. Let the Landscape be primarily green and use colour as an accent.
Scale and proportion
It might seem counterintuitive, but when you size your draining and seating areas generously, you make a small outdoor space appear bigger. A classic rule of thumb is to allow a minimum distance from the edge of the table to the nearest obstruction (say a wall of 36 inches).
If you’re installing wooden deer fending, trellises for roses, or stakes for plants, paint those elements black. Black disappears into the garden; that ‘landscape green’ colour looks anything but natural.
A good pruning
Like a great haircut, a good pruning can dramatically change an outdoor space. Do it yourself if you’re plant-savvy, or hire a skilled gardener or arborist.
It’s easier than you’d think to get the soothing sound of a fountain. You need a simple watertight container (a terra-cotta pot, galvanised bathtub or urn), a re-circulating pump, and an electrical outlet to plug it into.
Complementary hardscape material
Less is more. Make sure your hardscape materials – stones, pavers, gravel, concrete, wood, and paint – all work together and also complement your house’s architectural materials.
An eye to the edges
Any place where two materials meet is a loaded situation. Pay extra attention to detail and craftsmanship wherever paving meets gravel or a retaining wall, at the corners of raised planting beds, or along the line between lawn and flower bed. Make those junctures as clean as possible – without, need we say, the use of cheap plastic edging.
A well-swept path
A good sweeping makes everything look ordered, even if the rest of the garden is leaning toward wild!
Gardenista, edited by Michelle Slatall and with images from Mathew Williams, is a hardback garden design manual inspiration and expert advice: there are in-depth tours, step-by-step guides and easy-to-implement design ideas. The book is available on Amazon for further garden landscaping inspiration.Last modified: June 10, 2021