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DESIGNING WITH STONES IN THE SMALL GARDEN


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2018/02/05




“My garden is too small to do all of this.” I have heard this said time and time again, usually when I am at Bettman or touring another public garden. Truth is, just about anything you can do in a large garden, you can adapt to a tiny garden. The secret is scale. We are taking the same elements we use in a large landscape and paring them down.

The shade garden at Bettman is quite generous, but I have many of the same types of plants in a far smaller version of the garden at another park. I simply reduced the number of plants I selected for the smaller garden and then opted for smaller varieties of those plants. For example, instead of an Empress Wu hosta, one ridiculously large hosta, I could use Praying Hands or Blue Mouse Ears.

One design feature that tends to stump those new to gardening is how to incorporate stones into their demure garden. After seeing dramatic stonescapes, elaborate walkways and steps, even arches and other follies made of stone, it’s difficult to translate those stone pieces to a small garden space. Here are some ideas.

Make a Swap
Instead of a plant, opt for stone of a similar size of the considered plant when designing your small garden. In doing so, you preserve the proportion you would have had with a plant, but add the unique texture and winter interest of natural stone.

Backdrop
With a tiny garden, one can opt to design with tiny plants, only. Instead of backdropping the garden with shrubs and grasses as we are apt to do with larger garden spaces, place stones behind the small plants as a backdrop. Natural stones are a great contrast to the plants and add much needed visual weight to a garden otherwise occupied by ‘lighter’ material.

Stacking Up
Add a cairn or an improvised stack of stones for visual interest. While it may not be an arch you can pass under, it’s still a stone structure it the garden.

Role Reversal
And, when all else fails, place the garden in the rock. This rock, has a tiny succulent garden planted in its crevasses.

If you are having a difficult time visualizing how natural stones can be incorporated into your small garden, call us. We can evaluate your garden space, create a plan and handle the installation. 271.2332

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