Small Backyard Ideas?

blakeas(6 OH)January 17, 2012

I just had a new home built and I am all moved in. The area we moved into was a very expensive area and therefore we had to buy a smaller lot to afford it.

so my backyard is very very small. I want to do something with it but I am not sure what. I want to make it an extension of the living space inside. my front yard is what I will use for running around and playing with my kids.

Do I just need to hire a landscape designer to do a master plan? or is there some sort of canned design for small spaces I can see?

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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

How small exactly? And what is the surrounding area like? What do you want to do in this area? Also if it were me I'd live in the house a few months to see how I used the space before committing to a plan. For example, you will find out which paths you most commonly take across the area, where the sun falls, which bits are most private from the neighbours, etc. There are lots of ideas online if you Google 'designs for small gardens'. There's an example at the link. (Just at random - nothing to do with me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Examples

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 11:02AM
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blakeas(6 OH)

I have been in my house since september and since it is so small we dont use it that much. We wanted that area to be a gathering area with a firepit incorporated into it.

I will attach a picture when I can.

the house faces north and it is not very private however there is a fence.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 11:34AM
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blakeas(6 OH)

picture looking out my backdoor

Picture looking to the left from on the deck

picture looking to the right

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 2:50PM
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I like a firepit too.add a buck thorn,a locust,a laurel for your private.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 3:42PM
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Oh, I recognize the home now. Your wish to make this an extension of the interior space is good and certainly do-able.
I think your biggest challenge will be correcting the slope towards the house and creating privacy.

A lot depends on your budget, including the hiring of a landscape designer. If you are able to identify your goals and aesthetic
leanings for this space, can spend time doing research and have basic garden aptitude with some handyman skills, you can
certainly do most of the work yourself.

How is your front and side yard turning out?

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 4:29PM
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blakeas(6 OH)

oops - I forgot to add - I am adding a staircase against my detached garage to go up to the 2nd level (building an in law suite)

I like the design that designoline6 did - How the heck did you do that?!?

adriennemb - Are you familiar with my home or about me talking about over the last year?

And where do I find a landscape designer that is good but reasonable?

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 4:58PM
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I have told you trees name,these shrub are could go local nursery to feel is other a suggest's pic:

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 2:27AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

There is a poster on the perennial forum who did a lot with a tiny space. Not sure if it's to your taste but it shows how you can use even a tiny area.

Here is a link that might be useful: Small garden idea

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 6:05AM
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blakeas(6 OH)


Thanks for your wonderful drawings! I live in atlanta, ga - will those plants work here?

I really was going for the 1st drawing in terms of the firepit. that is what I wanted to build.

are those things in the 2nd drawing container plants?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 6:18AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

blakeas - I am afraid designoline6's collages are a regular feature on GW. S/he likes to take posters' pictures and doctor them with out of scale images of plants and features which bear no relation to the situation they are shown in and are frequently unsuitable species. There is never any practical information or knowledgeable advice. It appears to be a sort of collaging hobby and is best ignored.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 8:27AM
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Blakeas, if you want professional help, you might check local craigslist services to begin with. When inquiring, I'd be sure to let them know your yard is very small and maybe the price could be adjusted. Be sure to tell a designer all of your intentions & needs up front: stairway, fire pit, etc. and overall goals.

I don't see the need for you adding more trees... just some shrubs (large and small) and groundcover/perennials. Your yard is so small that if you want a fire pit and a stairway, it seems that there will be little, or no, room left for grass. Or, any grass would be more more difficult to maintain than some groundcover and perennials...not worth bringing in the mower.

Designoline6, where ever did you get the precious, teeny furniture and mammoth hanging (floating) baskets? They're quite something!

Well, gotta go. I'm off to the local nursery to "feel some shrubs" and "get a laurel for my privates." See ya later.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 9:56AM
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Those aren't hanging baskets, they're trunkless shrubs.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 1:07PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

By California standards, this yard is not small. On the contrary in some neighborhoods it is considered quite sizable.

I see a plethora of design opportunities as would other designers.
If you are stumped for design concepts a good designer can help you visualize a variety of concepts. There is a fantastic designer in Cummings Georgia that I can refer. I don't know if that is near you or not. Her name is Lee Anne White and was editor of Fine Gardening Mag for awhile.

In regards to the fire pit, you might want to see if your municipality has and code compliance regulations for outdoor fire pits. My area of the country is very environmentally progressive in regards to air pollution and does not allow new built in outdoor fire pits to burn wood. They must be powered by gas. Also check set backs and building envelopes.

I don't get this hate thing against Designoline6.
This person obviously tries very hard with offering ideas and the English language.
The designs may not be to your liking or may not be very practical but they seem to be a genuine attempt.
To say to ignore his or her generosity is extremely rude.
A little civility wouldn't hurt anyone.

photo of a built in fire pit with surrounding seating. It is important to get the space between the fire pit and the seating right. Too much room between the two and one cannot put their feet up on the ring , too close and it is cramped. From outdoor fire places rings From Outdoor Kitchens and Dining areas

A portable fire pit. In my area no regulations against them except on 'Spare the Air' days . This is located at a beach house.
From outdoor fire places rings

Privacy screening designed in. Squaw Valley - extremely harsh weather.
From outdoor fire places rings

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 1:09PM
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DD, I'm not sure if you're referring to my comments "I don't get this hate thing against Designoline6." If so, me thinkest thou are way off base. To recognize humor (really good humor) where it occurs is hardly hate. My comment is NON-hostile and is intended to point out that 6's scale and gravitation is a little off and, mostly, that funny happened. Sometimes to get "hate" out, you have to read it in. If you're referring to others' comments, I think you're way over calling it to use the word "hate." It's a little high and mighty, dear.

Why quibble over whether a yard is called "small" or "big" when everyone can see exactly it's size?

My area of the country is very environmentally progressive... Some see this as "progressive." To others is may appear as opressive ...the result of lobbying by industry to sell more product...collectively and cumulatively, a major cause of economic destruction.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 3:14PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

It's not about you.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 4:35PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

DD - I'm sorry if you construed my comments as 'hate'. Personally I'd reserve that word for more serious things than a bit of banter on an online gardening forum. Designoline6 aka ideashare has a habit of presenting these cut and paste notions and usually I, and others, ignore them. This time the OP appeared to be taking them seriously despite their clearly fantastical impracticality. The first picture I let go. When a second came along and blakeas appeared to be treating it as a serious proposition, I thought it likely that s/he was a beginner gardener and considered it appropriate to warn him/her. It is not 'extremely rude', in my book, to suggest someone ignore something unhelpful. Note I said to ignore the design, not the generosity. Designoline previously posted as ideashare and is based in China, not the US and is essentially a troll. S/he has been posting these mock ups since at least 2007. Check the link, 2nd post down, for another example.

Here is a link that might be useful: ideashare alias designoline

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 4:35PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

Flora UK
I've seen the many mock ups that Idea share and designoline has done over the years.
Many are fantastical, some impractical, many highly imaginative.
I've also read many condenscending , demeaning and mean spirited remarks about this persons designs.
Telling someone to ignore anothers design concept is rude , period.

one mans restrictions is anothers protections.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 4:48PM
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Blackeas, it appears that you do not know plants which makes it difficult to answer your questions. You are sitting on a piece of property that offers tremendous opportunity for a show garden with something in bloom every month of the year. Plus perhaps a moveable fire pit to be tucked out of the way when not needed. With careful thought seating which could be moved about the yard in different groupings, also around the fire pit when you wish to enjoy its glow.

Bottom line...the old yoga saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." Talk to people, visit large nurseries that offer landscaping, phone calls to designers listed in the yellow pages. Do it all and your project will come together with the right person who really understands plants.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 4:52PM
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Sock monkeys rule!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 7:15PM
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one mans restrictions is anothers protections. If it were protection of a man's inalienable rights, I'd be all for it. But most modern-day "protections" are, instead, assaults on men's inalienable rights, the end result of which is a government that has turned on its people.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 12:44AM
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There are every name of vine,shrub,small arbor in 2nd pic.just you have to read it carefully. they are evergreen in your place,give you some privacy.
deviant-deziner:"Great Helper Always Can't Get Answer In Time ".please continue to pay a attention me.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 8:45AM
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blakeas(6 OH)

I am in decatur, ga - so if anyone knows of a landscape designer local I would appreciate a recommendation

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 10:37AM
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Would you likely be looking for a designer who is involved and on site through a construction and installation process (greater cost)? Or someone who would provide a detailed plan and you'd be managing your own construction and installation (lesser cost)?

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 1:46PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

For those who are interested in Landscape architectural history the sentence that was written above , 'One mans restriction's is another mans protections', came from a conversation at a Sea Ranch design meeting that included members of the design review board including Lawrence Halprin .
For 6 years I worked up on The Sea Ranch ( doing horticultural work.
For those who are not familiar with The Sea Ranch it is often studied in Architecture + Landscape Architectural programs for its progressive commitment to integrated ecological design.
Over the years since its inception in the 1960's new residents have come into TSR and often want to change the paradigm that TSR was developed on.
TSR stands steadfast in their commitment to its original ideals thus annoying new comers that the rules and regulations are 'restrictive'. Other residents find the Codes, Compliances and Regulations 'protections'.

I'm not going to get into a argument about mans inalienable rights - this is a landscape design forum.
You can carry on that argument with your self.

In my original post I mentioned code compliance in regards to what is and what is not allowed by law as a something that could potentially affect the building of a fire pit. As homeowners and landscape professionals it is our responsibility to design and build within the law - whether we like the law or not.
In my area of the country it is unlawful to build or install a wood burning device in or outside of your home, - It has to be powered by another energy source.
Some may find this restrictive, other may find it protective.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 2:32PM
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Uuuh... ok.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 5:24PM
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blakeas(6 OH)

I would be managing my own construction and installation. However, with a bigger firepit I probably need help there

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 6:57PM
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e me at: tampete at (replacing the "at") and I will give you a couple of possibles.

With firepit do you mean help with doing actual construction or help with figuring out what firepit should be?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 12:14AM
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Another comment I meant to make is that there are a few concerns to watch out for regarding the fire pit. You'll need to accommodate the drainage path that flows through the space. Looks like there's a foot and a half or more grade change. (This could be measured pretty easily.) With tree roots you can't excavate too much and you'll need a way to retain earth at the patio perimeter. That could present some interesting possibilities for tying this to the stoop. If you want to keep cost lower, I'd consider one of the portable firepit and furniture arrangements that allow the space to be flexible... especially since there is no other sizable deck or patio in the back yard. Where everything is masonry, it will cost more and be less flexible.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 10:30AM
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