Monday, August 4, 2014

Landscaping made easy, Part 14: How to make a small yard feel larger

Answer:  This can be achieved by intentionally harmonizing the plantings in your yard with those plantings that are outside of your property boundaries, such that the result appears as a single integrated scene which draws the eye into the distance.
Case in point - our rear fenceline.  We stained our fence dark three years ago (still looks great, doesn't it?) so that it recedes and appears unobtrusive.  Furthermore, this group of plantings was intentionally designed to go together, as I will show.  
This is what I mean by "go together".  Notice how the progression of heights has been engineered to transition smoothly from inside the yard to outside of the yard.  From lowest to highest, vegetation heights 1, 2, and 5 are on my property.  Heights 3 and 4 are in the common area behind my property, but because of this cohesive visual progression, all of this vegetation actually feels like it's "mine", and therefore this back yard feels more expansive than the paltry 23 feet (!!) of depth that we have here.   
Think about it.  A twenty-three-foot backyard depth could be downright oppressive, like some kind of a prison yard, if it were not designed correctly.  Twenty-three feet is less than the depth of the great room in our house, for crying out loud (and we have a small house by Houston standards).  But with an optimized landscaping layout, that depth actually feels pretty good, especially with three different colors of crape myrtle flowers.  There's a lot of good stuff happening here, and that distracts from the physical limitations of the space.  God bless Houston in the summertime - it may be hotter than the southern hinges of hell, but what a riot of amazing subtropical vegetation this place is capable of sustaining with very little effort on our parts.

So there is my advice as to how to put lipstick on that particular landscaping pig.  If you are adjacent to an open space or common area, evaluate how you might tie your landscaping in with whatever is existing behind you or beside you.  If you back to a neighbor, look at what they have installed and perhaps even collaborate with them on how you can make your respective small spaces feel larger through coordinated strategic planting on both of your parts.  Trust me - it will do your property values a world of good.
Don't read it and weep - instead, weed it and reap.  Most back yards in our subdivision are very small, with houses pushed close to the rear fenceline.  But that doesn't mean that those spaces can't be beautiful and expansive-feeling via the clever use of landscaping.

Screengrabbed from Google.  

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