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cable railing on deck with city in background

Outdoor Trends – Small Gardens, Big on Style

Small gardens are trending and that’s great news for weekend gardeners and those with limited space and time. Not only are small gardens easier to maintain than larger gardens, but they can bring new life to decks, patios and terraces while also satisfying the desire for connection to nature and providing a retreat from hectic lives.

Whether designing a new garden or refreshing an existing garden, even a modest investment will pay off in a more functional – and beautiful – space.

(Left) Feeney CableRail on a wood railing frame in garden setting. (Right) Feeney DesignRail(r) aluminum railing on rooftop deck with planter boxes and storage bench.

Following are suggestions for getting the most impact from a small garden space:

Leverage changes in terrain. If a deck or patio has multiple levels, dividing the garden into different “segments” can create visual interest and optimize limited space. For example, smaller flowers and plants can be placed in containers or planter boxes on one level while larger plants and bushes can be situated in larger beds on another level. The result is a layered effect that will add depth to the outdoor space.

Installing cable railings between terraced garden areas is another way to make a garden space appear more dynamic and interesting. The railing maintains an open view while bringing structure to the garden area. 

Consider built-in seating. For areas with very limited space – for example, an urban rooftop deck – adding a storage bench that can double as seating is an efficient way to make more room for green elements while preventing the space from feeling crowded. Incorporating an oversized planter box and filling it with colorful plants and flowers will create a welcome oasis. 

Take it vertical. Living walls and vertical gardens are an ideal solution for outdoor spaces with minimal square footage. These structures not only impart a sense of lushness to a space, but also introduce an unexpected element. For those who travel frequently or lack a green thumb, succulent walls are a great low maintenance option.

Feeney’s free-standing Greenway trellis with cable and rod vine lattice

Another space-saving option is to install a trellis. Trellises are available in a variety of materials, including wood, stainless steel and aluminum. A planter can be positioned below the trellis and flowering vines used to create the illusion of a wall, or several trellises can be placed around a seating area for a cozy nook. Vertical walls or trellises are also a clever way to create a feeling of privacy.

Focus on the perimeter. If a space is going to be used for frequent entertaining, it’s best to keep furniture and plantings along the perimeter. Strategically placed planters or flower pots around the edges of a deck or patio can create an attractive boundary for the space while extending the feel of the outdoors.

(Left) Feeney CableRail in composite wrapped frame. (Right) Feeney CableRail in a custom fabricated steel frame.

Whether working with a small patio area, stepped terrace or modest deck, it’s possible to create an intimate and inviting garden space that’s simple and natural, but anything but boring. 

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