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How to Expand Your Outdoor Living Space with a Small Yard

calander May 28 , 2021 user-icon Nash Painting

Outdoor spaces come in all shapes and sizes. Having a larger yard means you’ll have plenty of space for activities, gardening, and guests but comes with the caveat of increased maintenance. Smaller yards are less strenuous to take care of but can feel cramped and limited in their potential. If only you had a magic wand, you could shrink or enlarge your lawn to a preferable proportion. Assuming you don’t have access to this power, however, you have to make the most of the hand you’ve been dealt. With summer just around the corner, you might feel discouraged by your smaller yard. But just because you can’t physically augment your outdoor space doesn’t mean you can’t utilize it in more efficient ways. Indeed, there are a number of tricks to functionally expand your outdoor living space despite having a small yard. Let’s explore these options in full.

Establish Enclosures to Create Spatial Contrast

Our perception of space is relative; entering a small room after spending time in a larger one can make said small space feel even tinier and vice versa. If you want to make your outdoor living space feel larger, then use this psychological trick to your advantage by creating an enclosure on your patio (e.g., a tent or high-walled deck) that leads out to your yard. Doing so won’t just offer some additional privacy when spending time outdoors but will also create a buffer between one part of your outdoor area and the more open part. Even if your yard isn’t very big, exiting the enclosure and entering the green space will make your yard feel grander.

Cultivate a Portable Garden

When outdoor space is limited, planting a garden can be a difficult decision. After all, a healthy garden will take up a fixed amount of space, cutting into the rest of your yard. Fortunately, you don’t need to sacrifice lawn real estate to fill your outdoor space with plant life. Rather than dig into the soil, consider growing and purchasing plants that can be placed in moveable containers. This way, you can move your “garden” around in ways that better optimize your limited space, such as installing window boxes, hanging flowers from beams, and placing planters on the edges of your deck.

Try a Tier-Based Design

There’s a lot to love about a large, wide open deck, but most smaller yards can’t accommodate such a major feature. This doesn’t mean you have to go without a deck or patio entirely, however. Instead, make use of vertical space to make up for the lack of horizontal space available to you. More specifically, consider installing layered decking, wherein large steps are stacked on to one another and displaced so people can stand and sit on each level, and so that accessories (like planters) can be placed on them. This approach is kind of like taking a large, flat deck, cutting it up into quadrants, and stacking each quarter on top of one another to save space.

Use Natural Features to Your Advantage

Installing features like decking or fencing can be a challenge when you’re working with a small yard. In some cases, though, nature might do you a favor and offer some useful natural barriers and materials. If you design your outdoor living space strategically, you can, for instance, use trees and shrubbery as natural fencing and start growing new trees to reinforce this border.

Scale Down Your Patio Furniture

One of the best ways to make your diminutive outdoor space feel larger is to scale everything else down with it. Standard patio furniture will usually look out of place and take up an inordinate amount of space when there’s not much room to begin with. As such, prioritize smaller and fewer furnishings and accessories when decorating your small exterior spaces. Of course, you don’t want to sacrifice comfort, so don’t purchase any furniture items that are too small to sit in or safely place a drink upon. Outfit your outdoor space in such a way that it offers a suitable amount of comfortable seating without overwhelming the rest of your yard.

Let Light Open Up Your Outdoor Space

The way you light your outdoor living space greatly contributes to its overall atmosphere. As a general rule, well-lit areas tend to feel larger than dimmer spaces. With this in mind, use natural light to your advantage as much as possible. If your yard is filled with large, shady trees, consider having them removed or severely trimmed to let more sunlight get through, as this will help make your yard seem more spacious. Additionally, install artificial lighting in your outdoor living space to keep things bright even when the sun goes down. There are lots of ways to light your exterior spaces -- you might hang lights between beams, snake them between lattice work, place them in planters, and so on.

Understand the Illusion of Color

Light and color are intertwined -- and just as proper lighting can make a space feel bigger than it is, the same goes for certain color choices. If your outdoor living space is saturated with darker tones, it’s bound to feel more cramped. Conversely, implementing lighter, reflective colors around your yard can provide visual expansion. If you’re thinking of painting your exterior but don’t know how to select house paint colors, then keep this phenomenon in mind. A small yard that’s placed against the backdrop of a white home will look bigger than a yard of the same size that’s next to a dark gray home. The same principle applies to deck stain and paint colors, too. Understanding how different colors change the way a space looks and feels can help you maximize your tiny yard’s potential.

Keep Things Clean and Tidy

Cleanliness and organization matter here, too. When your outdoor space becomes caked with dirt and/or littered with objects without rhyme or reason, it will have the effect of shrinking your yard further. Hiring pressure washing services to thoroughly clean your siding, decking, patio, and other exterior surfaces can help your outdoor space maintain a grander appearance. Moreover, removing and/or cleverly storing unnecessary items and rearranging decorations in a more orderly way will free up space and streamline your outdoor areas.

Make the Most of What You Have

Perhaps your goal isn’t to make your yard appear larger than it is, but rather to maximize the amount of living space possible outside your home. If so, don’t let any area go unused. You don’t want to clutter up your house exterior, of course, but if you’ve got any open space available to you, consider how you might use it to your advantage. Perhaps you’ll install a small fire pit in the middle of your yard or place a bench and small table in the side yard. The possibilities are open to you as long as there’s space to use.

Expand Your Outdoor Living Space This Summer

We all want to get as much enjoyment out of summer as we can, and optimizing your outdoor space will help you do just that. At Nash Painting, our wide range of services (including residential exterior painting, light carpentry, pressure washing, surface preparation, etc.) have been used by clients all over Nashville, Franklin, or Brentwood, TN to maintain and enhance their homes year-round. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!