Charming California Garden
Norman A. Plate

Charming Possibilities

Sure, a small garden has built-in restrictions, but there are also rewards. Small makes it possible to think out every inch and detail. This 600-square-foot California garden, for example, offers multiple seating areas, a pond, an inviting path, a rich assortment of plants, and a wealth of charm.

Walking into your little polished space is like opening a locket and finding a miniature landscape inside. Small, yes, but perfect in every detail. Here's how to get started.

Bench made of recycled tiles
Stephen Gunther

Define Your Style

Los Angeles gardener Christine Moore embraced the limitations of her 590-square-foot space. She knew she wanted a Mediterranean-style garden compatible with her Spanish-style stucco home and its Mexican folk art-inspired interior. The bench with broken tile inserts was inspired by a similar idea from a historic home in Malibu.

Garden Focal Point
Norman A. Plate

Create a Focus

A circle paved with gravel, marbles, and beach rock creates a focal point for this small backyard. Paper umbrellas and a bench add to the magic.

Even a tiny garden offers a break from the outside world. Surrounded by greenery, fragrant flowers, and objects you love, you can relax and reconnect with nature.

Small Garden Fountain
Stephen Gunther

Design to Scale

When you know what you want to include, measure your garden, draw it to scale, cover the sheet with vellum or tracing paper, and try out designs until you have a configuration you like.

This fountain pool, surrounded with foliage, is just big enough to make a splash.

Pebbled Pathway
Stephen Gunther

Use Appropriate Materials

Opt for top-grade materials in select places. The Salmon Bay pebbles used in this pathway are a good example. Gardener Christine Moore chose them over the less expensive pea gravel because a pathway in a garden as small as this is too prominent not to be decorative.

Moore kept the color scheme restrained and foliage size in scale. She made use of her vertical space with climbing plants. And the fence that encloses her garden is ornamental in its own right.

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