Utah Style and Design

10 Big Design Ideas for Small Gardens

June 18, 2019

We tapped one of Salt Lake City’s most charming and beautifully designed gardens—the oasis behind Ward & Child–The Garden Store—for clever ways to make the most of a small garden. Ready to be inspired?

1. BREAK IT UP 

Thanks to the talents of owners Rob McFarland and Jerry Stanger, this small urban garden is beautifully designed and cleverly segmented into separate areas that flow seamlessly into one another. A charming lily pond,  deep pergola, a row of pear-covered arbors, wandering paths and planting beds are among the “zones” that combine to make the enclosed garden feel spacious and experiential. Because the areas are not all visible from any one spot, there is the added illusion of discovery and depth.

 

2. GO HIGH AND GO DEEP

Few things make a garden feel more comfortable and cozy than the semi enclosure created by overhead foliage, whether it’s a tree’s lacy canopy, an overhead trellis draped in blooming roses or an espaliered pear-covered arbor. Naturally, this garden has all of these … and more. Meanwhile,  deep lushly planted beds, vine-covered trellises and richly layered plantings hide the garden’s walls. This makes it difficult to determine where the property’s boundaries exist, creating the illusion of a larger property.

 

3. BE PLAYFUL

Any garden, large or small, benefits from shots of wit and whimsy. Case in point: ceramic fish that appear to be swimming through a bed of variegated iris that borders one of the garden’s paths. Orange orbs tucked into a path’s border also add shots of bright color and surprising forms.

 

4. WANDER

A series of paths lead visitors through the gardens, some of them straight and covered in fine gravel and others meandering and formed of rounded river rocks. The former encourage a steady pace while the later foster a more leisurely stroll. We love the themed stones built into the wandering path.

 

5. USE FOLIAGE TO CREATE DEPTH 

Layered plantings create the illusion of deeper gardens, and this garden proves it. What’s more, the artfully designed layers allow this garden to always look great because as one plant peaks, neighboring plants follow with their best show. There is never a downtime in this garden, spring through late fall.

 

6. ADD WATER 

This city garden is naturally prone to urban noises, but you hardly notice thanks to the tranquil sounds of water splashing into a central lily pond and decorative fountains trickling nearby. These water features also attract birds and add sparkle and light to the lush greenery of the space.

7. USE COLOR TO CREATE FOCAL POINTS AND MOVEMENT

McFarland is a master of using foliage to create magic in his garden projects. Greens, yellows and gray tones are key to his palettes. When he inserts colorful flowers, he does it strategically to draw the eye into and around the garden. This time of year, roses, iris and water lilies deliver shots of compelling color.  He places painted furniture here and there and tucks ceramic planters and garden accessories into the foliage for more permanent pops of color.

 

8. INTEGRATE SITTING SPOTS

Set into a charming pergola, a pair of  chairs overlooks the fountain. On the other side of the property, a classic wood bench sits below the row of pear-covered arbors. Both invite visitors to sit and enjoy the garden’s sights and sounds.

 

9. ADD A MIRROR

Interior designers use mirrors to visually enlarge spaces, increase light and provide reflections of what surrounds them inside the home. McFarland added a mirror to this garden for the same reasons. If you add a mirror to your garden, make certain the mirror is protected from the elements or is designed to be used outdoors.

 

10. UNIQUE ACCENTS

Sure, you can choose ho-hum furnishings and accessories, or you can add the unexpected to make the garden uniquely yours. Think distinctive benches, surprising architectural spheres, whimsical fountains and more. The options are endless.

 

Ward & Child—The Garden Store, SLC, 678 S. 700 East, SLC, @wardandchild

 

 

 

 

 

Brad Mee
Editor-In-Chief

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