5 clever planting tricks to make your small backyard look bigger

Living wall in garden
Living wall in garden (Image credit: Shutterstock)

With summer here, it’s the perfect time to enjoy your outdoor space, or break out one of the best grills for an impromptu gathering. But if you have a small backyard, it can often feel cramped, undesirable and limit how you use it fully. This is also the case if you have plenty of beautiful plants flowering and flourishing this season.

However, don’t despair! If you want to spruce up your garden, there are some clever planting tips to make your small backyard look bigger — and maximize your tiny space.

And while this might seem hard to do, all it takes is careful planning and landscaping design to create a more spacious feeling. What’s more, knowing how to make your backyard look bigger will make your space more inviting, attractive and far cheaper than moving!

So if you want to make the most out of your small outdoor space, check out one of these clever planting tricks to make your small backyard look bigger. 

1. Layer your plants 

Layers of different flowers in garden

Layers of flowers in garden (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Although you want a stunning, visual display, it’s advisable not to overwhelm your backyard with different plants of varying heights. Planting too many things will only overwhelm a small space. Not only will it make it look cluttered or messy, but can block natural light entering your yard.   

Consider your landscape before making your plant selection — and create an elevated garden design. If you don’t want your favorite plants to grow out of control, you can opt for raised garden beds or planter boxes. These make it more manageable to grow, and offer other benefits such as improved soil quality, enhanced drainage, and weed control.

Another option is to include garden borders, which also does well to create zones in your backyard.  Plus, you only have to use a relatively small ground space for the border, which will look aesthetically pleasing. Experts advise adding colourful, fragrant plants such as lavender, or plants that attract butterflies and other pollinators to your yard. 

When choosing your backyard patio plants, it’s always handy to find out your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone first. Each zone is determined by its average annual minimum winter temperature. So, depending on where you live, this can help you plan out your planting choices. 

2. Move flowers into planters  

Row of blue wagon planters

Row of blue wagon planters (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Similarly, bulky shrubs and tall plants can often take up a lot of space in a small backyard. To create a more open feel, you can move these into large, decorative planters to give you extra room. What’s more, planters are versatile, and you can plant colorful flowers, exotic plants, or even a herb garden for a more curated, organized space. 

Not only will these be easier to manage, but you can move planters anywhere in your yard, to suit your conditions. If you want to add character and style, you can opt for decorative planters like this Amish Wagon Decorative Indoor/Outdoor Garden Backyard Planter ($49, Amazon), to spruce up your space. 

3. Create a garden path 

Garden path in yard

Garden path in yard (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Alternatively, you can opt for garden paths, from paving slabs, gravel or even decking. These are a brilliant way to divide your yard, and have a visual impact as well. “Garden paths are great for an outdoor space, making it look tidy whilst also providing you a place to walk without damaging your plants,” says Joshua Houston, Gardening Expert at Household Quotes

“Spend time researching materials, and searching social media to see if anyone has anything to use for free. Gravel is a good option, and much cheaper than paving slabs. It’s important to think outside the box, so don’t rule out items in your home that can be reused as a garden path.” 

4. Plant vertically 

Living wall in garden

Living wall in garden (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Vertical gardens are becoming a more popular option for those dealing with a small backyard. Essentially, this is a clever technique of growing plants and veggies upwards, rather than taking up horizontal ground space. 

Whether it’s utilizing your walls or creating modular/tiered planters, there are easy ways to grow a vertical garden and save space. Not only will vertical gardens instantly transform your space, but are super easy to maintain, and offer a creative way to showcase your beautiful blooms, succulents or herb garden. 

What’s more, this is particularly useful for those growing plants on a balcony, which will save valuable space. 

5 Use climbing plants 

Pink climbing polyantha rose growing on a wooden pergola

Pink climbing polyantha rose growing on a wooden pergola (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Similarly, climbing plants and wall shrubs are ideal for opening up your backyard, and make the space feel bigger. As well as having a tiny footprint, it can quickly add beauty and color to boundaries, and enhance your yard. 

Experts advise that the best climbing plants will twine up a vertical support, which will naturally lead the eye upwards. What’s more, climbing plants make for visually interesting features in a small backyard. This works well for roses and other climbing varieties such as clematis armandii, star jasmine or you can try one of these 7 best plants to grow on a wall. 

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Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!