Exterior Worlds
Houston Landscape
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How to Make a Small Yard Appear Large

In many parts of the Houston landscape, you find places where beautiful and very stately homes are situated on relatively small tracts of land. These small yards often appear disproportionate to the magnitude of the home.

In order to correct this, Exterior Worlds has developed a number of ways to make small yards appear larger and more proportional to residential landscape design. This, in turn, makes the entire property look more attractive because open, outdoor living space suddenly takes on a sense of equal proportion to interior indoor living space.

One of the ways we do this is through careful, custom garden design. The construction of special gardens and introduction of special garden species and elements is one sure and certain way to make any small yard look superb in relationship to the surrounding Houston landscape.

There are specific techniques that Houston landscapers use in small yards to accomplish this. One of the more obvious of these techniques is to rely primarily on small plants or dwarf species. Small hedges such as boxwoods are excellent to use for creating borders around gardens and boundary areas between gardens and hardscapes.


Plants that are low to the ground, and plants and trees with very small leaves, work very well to fill space with just enough greenery without completely obstructing the view of the Houston landscape. As a general principle of landscape design, plants with darker green, non-reflective leaves work better for this purpose than plants with brightly colored leaves.

Small trees such as dwarf yaupons can be trimmed down until they are narrow and short. When planted on the edge of a garden, or along the property line itself, they both increase the sense of space within the yard and simultaneously work to soften the view of the surrounding Houston landscape.

Such techniques work collectively to magnify the visual impact of relative space within the boundaries of a yard that would otherwise appear noticeably diminutive. Using smaller plants and trees prevents organic material from taking over an entire area and filling up what little space exists.

Alteration of hardscape design can also be done in such a manner as to make a small yard appear larger in relationship to the Houston landscape. One very simple way we can accomplish this is by designing to pathways that are smaller than one typically transits. For instance, a path only 12” to 18” across is still large enough to comfortably traverse, but it is also noticeably narrow enough to make everything around it look larger.

Hardscapes and gardens can also be designed to become smaller and narrower as they progress away from the home. This tricks the eye with an inflated sense of perspective that significantly magnifies how large the yard appears to guests, residents, and people passing the home along the street.

Outdoor buildings can be modified to buildings them at a smaller scale. Buildings with lower profiles tend to make the yard look wider and more expansive.

In some cases as well, we deliberately add special features and ornaments to key points of interests and garden areas. Reflective surfaces such as stainless steel architectural walls, stainless steel posts, or even ornamental mirrors can all work toward magnifying the proportional presence of softscape in relationship to hardscape.

Murals are another excellent aesthetic to introduce into a small yard and a very special feature that can be used to greatly increase the feel of a narrow space.

Although Houston is the nation’s fourth largest city, there are still many neighborhoods that have very small yards. The more family-oriented or cozy parts of town such as West University Place, Bellaire, Southside Place, Stable Wood, and The Heights can all benefit from this unique landscaping service.