ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Small Gardens: Choose Perennials!

Updated on July 5, 2016

A small space needs a strong design and judicious plant selection: It needs big impact!

A small garden with perennial plants will have a lasting effect and will require little maintenance.

Summary: Get it Done in Four Stages or DIY

  1. A landscape designer provides several versions of a plan that includes hardscape, trees, bushes, and plants.
  2. The homeowner chooses one version, or a combination.
  3. A landscape contractor executes the entire design, or builds the hardscape and plants accent trees and bushes.
  4. The homeowner completes the project with the small plant material.

If you opt for a DIY project instead, once the hardscape is built, planting can be done in stages. Begin with the larger and more costly specimens because they will anchor the space.

As the project progresses technically and evolves visually, new ideas might come up: Be focused on the intended use of the garden. Keep in mind children and/or pets!

How to Use Ideas from Garden Magazines and Websites

A landscape designer must know what you like, or time and money will be wasted when his proposal does not reflect what you had in mind. Make a scrapbook of photographs or magazine clippings, and bookmark garden designs from websites. Give this collection of vignettes (ideas with all the components) to the designer, or create your DIY sketch:

  1. Create a sketch of your garden.
  2. Select a vignette for a particular location.
  3. Trace it, or paste it, at the desired location on your garden sketch.
  4. Repeat the process for another area.
  5. If you traced instead of pasting, make copies of the sketched design.
  6. On each copy, add colours to show seasonal foliage and perennial blooms.

Vignettes might incorporate a path, a retaining wall, some water feature, or a shady corner. Remember that less is more and choose only one or two complementary garden décor such as:

  • A cast-iron antique urn and a salvaged small gate
  • A birdbath or bird house and a harbour
  • A garden sculpture and decorative stepping stones

Keep in mind that the plants shown in a vignette might not be adequate for your climate. Get advice from nurseries for appropriate substitutions.

Have Fun Choosing Plants with the Gardener’s Colour Wheel

This clever tool lets you understand how colours work together through contrast and harmony. In a small garden colour selection must follow basic rules:

  • Combine three colours, including foliage, for harmony and an illusion of space.
  • Expand the palette with variations of a same colour for a monochromatic effect.
  • Choose trees, bushes, and roses that bloom in the same family colour.
  • Create the right depth by placing dark colours and rough textures in the front.
  • Extend space by placing light colours and fine textures in the back.

Plant with a Purpose

Before going to the nursery make a list of the varieties of bushes and plants needed, for which exposure, for what purpose (privacy, flowers, fragrances, fall foliage) and keep in mind that:

  • Plant repetition over several areas creates continuity
  • Plants with vertical interest create dimension.
  • Bushes growing flat against a wall enlarge a garden space.
  • Vines hide the rigid lines of privacy fences.
  • Mature plants need replanting sooner.
  • Plants must match their hardscape (pond, arbor).
  • Plant colours are best coordinated with the pots they grow into.

Know your Trees, Perennial Plants and Topiaries

True: Knowledge can prevent mistakes, but equally true: Plants can fail in any location. All you can do is to choose plants for a reason:

  • Perennial plants with interesting foliage bridge the seasonal gap.
  • Deciduous bushes contribute to the glowing colours of autumn.
  • Bushes with colourful stems create visual impact in winter.
  • Evergreen bushes with needles contrast nicely with leafy textures.
  • Bushes with berries offer off-season interest.
  • Annuals help experimenting before planting perennials of similar effect.
  • Ground covers leave space for specimens such as topiaries.
  • Non-deciduous trees give shade and year-around privacy.
  • Climbing vines provide flowers at eye-level, and fragrance.

When your garden is taking shape and you begin to feel a connection, trust your instincts. Your garden should awaken your own senses to replenish your mind and your soul.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)