Landscaping Solutions for Small Spaces, 10 Smart Plans for Designing & Planting Small Gardens by Ann-Marie Powell, published by Creative Homeowner
Beautiful gardens can be created in small spaces. The trick is not to stuff all of one’s dreams into a tiny garden. Instead, it is about judiciously selecting those design elements that are critical to ones pleasure, and about paring down a plan to its most important features. By following the author’s advice, satisfying, beautiful gardens, even in cramped quarters, can become a reality.
According to Ms. Powell, with careful design the most awkward space can become a garden. When plants, structures, and furniture are used wisely, a homeowner can transform a confined location not only into a thing of beauty, but also into a multifunctional space, with separate areas for relaxing and entertaining.
Her experience in designing allows the author to summarize a range of garden styles suitable for small spaces. These include - Urban, Edible, Romantic, English, Sun, Low-maintenance, Rustic, Night, Terraced, and Minimalist. A comprehensive chapter, dedicated to each style, includes a full sized, easy to read, and very detailed diagram of the garden, accompanied by an additional full-page blueprint-style planting guide.
The recommended ideas can be adapted by the do-it-yourself homeowner or by qualified landscapers. Creative readers may use these plans as a springboard to building a personalized garden by substituting plants and construction materials that reflect ones aesthetic needs and specific growing zones.
The author’s wise advice includes a suggestion to begin with a master plan. This will help in evaluating the allocation of precious space and budget set aside for the garden. Furthermore, the reader is cautioned not to select a design idea from a larger garden and shrink it down to fit, as wide lawns, deep planting borders and tall trees do not adapt well to tiny spaces.
One feature of the book that truly impressed me is the fact that no construction or planting detail, no matter how minute, is omitted or left to chance. In each chapter, the author includes a list of hardscape materials, a plant-shopping list, and a reminder of miscellaneous garden accessories that are required, such as eye screws for window boxes, wood screws, fence clips, and dumpsters for construction waste.
The information is supplemented with a specific to-do list that includes, for example, a caution to measure the garden carefully before ordering raw materials, and a safety tip to have all outdoor lighting installed by a qualified electrician.
As well, there are guidelines for the handling and execution of paving, furniture selection, decking, boundaries, trellis, and lawn, [if there is space for it], vegetation, the construction process, and planting. Each chapter, for any one style of garden, is completed with a twelve-month maintenance plan to help the homeowner sustain in perpetuity both the hardscapes and the plants.
This is a very impressive manual. Of late, publishers have been tapping into the talents of skilled and creative professionals, so that projects available to do-it–yourselfers are moving away from run-of-the-mill to become extraordinary. Although Ms. Powell’s book is intended as a mass-market publication, it is, in fact, an example of landscape mentoring at its best.
Ann-Marie Powell is a garden designer, TV personality, and writer focusing on innovative landscaping. She runs her own landscaping business, contributes to numerous newspapers and magazines, and is the author of two books. Her garden designed for the world-famous 2010 Chelsea Flower Show won a gold medal. All of the photos included in this review are available on her website.