8 tricks to make a small outdoor area look bigger

Private Property South Africa
The Roosting Venus

Small garden? Here are a few simple tips to create an illusion of space in your outdoor area.

Summer is on its way, and time to get your outdoors user-ready. Even the smallest outdoor area can be tricked into looking bigger and better with a few simple hacks.

Colour
Paint boundary walls dark – try a good grey, charcoal or green. While the wall itself will disappear into the distance, plants also look fabulous against a dark backdrop, which immediately makes a small outdoor area seem less defined, more spacious and more glam. Alternatively, where possible, use see-through fencing around a small property so that the area can blend into neighbouring spaces incorporating the greenery beyond the property line to make it almost seem part of the same landscape.

Borrow a View
Give a tiny garden a sense of space by borrowing a view from somewhere else. Use archways or doorways to frame attractive views, direct focus towards another part of the garden, into a neighbouring garden or across the street. Slatted fences can also be used to give glimpses of what lies beyond. Where no view is possible, create your own double illusion with an oversize mirror. Pop it in a corner of a garden or patio, or along a wall, behind some vegetation and watch the space double.

Welcome in the sky
Pulling the sky into a small garden will certainly get it feeling bigger. Using a black liner in a water garden creates a mirrored surface that reflects the sky, as does an upward tilted mirror. Trim any branches so they don’t block the sky to give a small area a big sense of space.

Go big
Using plants with big leaves at the back of the garden adds visual interest and creates an illusion of depth. Save fine textured smaller plants for borders and trimmings.
Also read: How to choose a tree for a small garden

Go vertical
Opt for taller, thinner plants against garden walls, and consider vertical gardening options such as planters hanging on walls or flowering vines. Choose trees that are taller and thinner – going up instead of out, and dwarf varieties of shrubs to give lush landscaping without taking up too much space. Hanging baskets with colourful displays draw the eye upwards too.
Also read: How to create a vertical garden

Multilayer
Different levels in a small garden interrupt and delineate space, creating designated areas which help make a small space look bigger. Raised garden beds or retaining walls carve out more space for planting, a sunken patio or elevated deck creates an entertainment area, a low wall can double as seating.

Create a destination
A small space will feel much grander if it’s turned into a destination. Create an outdoor area with a patio table and braai, or choose a bench for reading or sundowners, or add a feature such as a fountain. Side areas are often overlooked, use this extra space for a table, a herb garden or a spot for morning coffee.

Open-patterned furniture
Furnishings incorporating glass, open backs, slats and slim profiles help keep views open and unencumbered. Planter beds built to the height of 45cm with wide edges can double as extra seating. Also read: How to make your small garden an urban oasis

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