By Kate Burt | Houzz
When your outdoor space is a square patch of land amid an urban sprawl, possibly overlooked and if not absolutely tiny at least decidedly not rambling, it can be tempting to create an equally boxy, metropolitan garden. Yes, this type of garden may look sleek and stunning, but if you’re after some escapism, tranquility and a foil to a busy life in the city, browse the ideas in these relaxing plots for inspiration.
Create a secluded seating area. It might be only a teeny spot in your outside space, perhaps even in a front garden if you can screen yourself from the street, but a little patch to sit and think, with nothing but greenery and sky to gaze upon, is a soothing thing for the soul. Crowd your seating with bushy evergreen shrubs, sit back and enjoy the privacy.
Add a romantic door. Pick the right door and you’ve created your own fairy-tale scene in a flash. And what could transport you further from reality than that?
Even if you don’t have the capacity for a working door like this in your space, consider a purely decorative one — it’s just as evocative and makes an interesting feature.
Look at salvage yards and secondhand websites for something that captures your imagination. Train ivy to grow around it. Now, once upon a time …
Prettify your shed. For many people, a shed — if it’s just big enough to get inside and has a little window — can be a place of refuge, a place to indulge in a hobby or just somewhere quiet to get away from the hustle and bustle with a cup of tea and a book. If yours is currently the noncool color it was when you bought it, and has cascading cobwebs and a damp smell inside, consider how you might use it better if you spruced it up.
To make yours look inviting, paint it a soothing color (you can get paints for such a job that require no boring wood prep), then drape it with plants and pile pots bursting with blooms around it. The “veranda” of your shed can be an equally restful spot.
You can also find compact, assemble-yourself outbuildings that might suit your purposes even better, if potting or tool storage isn’t among your needs. Just squeeze in a comfy chair, a camping lantern, a blanket and somewhere to perch your drink.
Swing low. The thing that makes hammocks more suitable for larger spaces is that you tend to need two big, sturdy trees to secure each end to. If you happen to have something suitable, or can use your neighbor’s trees, voilà.
If not, simply seek out the easy option: an all-in hammock that comes with its own supports. You could train climbers around the ends if it’s to stay in one place (and can be protected from the weather) to help it blend in. Kick Back on an Outdoor Rocking Chair.
Green up a roof terrace. A roof deck with views across an urban skyline can be thrilling, and if you have the opportunity to add some height, you can potentially cocoon yourself behind three walls of green, as here. Choose fast-growing climbers for tall walls and fences, and put bamboo in pots — sitting on low benches if possible, to give you max screening. And generally add as many other pots of plants you love. YouTube is a great source for recordings of birdsong — just plug your speaker in, hit play, and sit back and soak up that rural mood! Bring In the Birdsong With a Birdhouse.
Add a small water feature. The gentle trickle of water is also a relaxing sound that will help transport you far from the hectic world beyond your garden fence.
Go for country-style plantings. Lots of urban gardens have a very structured, sculptural design — and it looks beautiful. But for an unexpected and softer mood, you could grow an out-of-context rustic garden, full of lupins, sweet peas, rambling roses, foxgloves and peonies (the bees will love it!). Grow a mixed native hedge to hide or even replace angular fences — hedges are wildlife magnets — and replace paving with a little lawn. Any other hard edges can be disguised with climbers.
Wend your way. A winding path isn’t always a natural choice for a small space, but it’s surprising how such a detail will, in fact, expand a little plot by adding intrigue and movement. It doesn’t even need to be very long.
Fringe it with untidy shrubs and fill empty wall space with climbers. For added atmosphere, some Victorian stonework or an antique birdbath will do the job, lending a secret-garden feel to your space.
Underplant — even in a tiny space. Part of what helps a garden feel like a secret oasis is a sense of the plants dominating the space and nature being at the forefront; when you think of what makes the great outdoors such a good antidote to modern life, it’s about exactly that sense of feeling small and insignificant in comparison to Mother Nature. So pack in that foliage for maximum escapism!
And it’s possible even in the smallest spaces to max out on foliage, and underplanting (cultivating smaller plants around taller plants) is a great way to increase your greenery — even if you have space only for pots. The plants in these containers burst out in all directions, adding a lovely, unstructured aesthetic to an otherwise ordered and contemporary backdrop, in terms of the wooden raised bed and brickwork. Keeping all the plants green also makes for a lush and wild jungly effect.
Try topiary. Ideally, of course, you’d have room for a fabulous box hedge maze for the ultimate in escapism. Should you not have room, ahem, some topiary created by shaping the same plant could create a visually similar feel. Depending what you use your garden for, you can potentially go large too — letting the hedging take up lots of space. Don’t bother trying to create complex figurines with your foliage; simple shapes and some rough edges look lovely, as seen here.
Again, some antique stonework and sculptural elements will help to build the theme (scour salvage yards). Yard Art to Decorate Your Garden.
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: