Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ideas for Small Outdoor Spaces that can be used in any Garden

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Horticultural Society's annual garden tour was the perfect excuse to take a weekend off. Not that we really needed much of an excuse to visit Niagara-on-the-Lake! It has to be one of the prettiest towns in all of southern Ontario. No wonder tourist's flock to its quaint, but pricy shops, restaurants and hotels.

Grandiflora rose 'Gold Metal'

The weather on the weekend was absolutely perfect: not a cloud in the bluest of skies, sunny and hot, but not humid, with the most refreshing of breezes blowing off Lake Ontario. 

The first of the tour gardens were all tiny courtyard style spaces in the same townhouse complex. 

These were a group of gardeners, who offered by way of example, an abundance of great ideas for making the most of every square inch of outdoor space. 

Technically this first garden wasn't on the tour, but I got permission to photograph it anyway.

The "Bay Street" sign clearly demonstrates these homeowners, leading a quiet life in Niagara-on-the-Lake, have a sense of humour. (Bay Street is the Canadian equivalent of  "Wall Street" and is the location of the stock exchange in downtown Toronto.)

This version of "Bay Street" has comfortable seating and a cozy cabin atmosphere. 

Tip: Hanging baskets don't eat up precious space at ground level in a small garden. 

And there are lots of great ways to hang flowers:

A metal bracket holds a standard wrought iron hook in place on this fence.

This next townhouse garden was the tiniest one we saw, but managed to be just marvellous. Creating a dramatic entrance to the garden was this red Rosa 'Amadeus'.

Rosa 'Amadeus': a good modern climber with trusses of deep red flowers that have a light, spicy scent. Height 8' to 10'. Disease resistant and a repeat bloomer.

Design Tip: Think about how you want to use your outdoor space. 

Most of the townhouse gardens in Niagara-on-the-Lake had a table with chairs for outdoor meals as well as a separate seating area for entertaining and unwinding.

Idea: Create a pleasant ambience using sound. 

The gentle sound of water and the sing-song of a set of chimes is not only relaxing, it helps to mask street noises and the chatter of your neighbours just a fence away.

Idea: When you run out of space at ground level, grow upwards with vines like clematis, ivy or climbing roses. 

Not only do vines offer a nice backdrop of greenery and flowers, they hide fencing and blur the boundaries of a garden making it feel larger.

Idea: Installing a light by the garage door means there is less fumbling with keys in the dark.

In the next townhouse garden, there were muted shades of mauve, pink and grey in a large seating area.

Plantings along the shady side of the garage.

In a small place where you will see the same plants everyday and at close quarters, choose perennials and shrubs that will look neat and attractive through as many seasons as possible. 

This euonymus shrub (on the right) will look great 365 days a year.

Tip: Annuals provide the best continuous color in the least amount of space.

 It is nice to know that any type of garden can be scaled down and adapted to a small outdoor space. The final garden for today is a rose garden.

There was a beautiful wrought iron gate at the entrance to this garden. 

Rosa 'Lady of Shallot': A coral colored David Austin rose that reaches a height of 3' to 6'. This is a repeat bloomer that is disease resistant.

Rosa 'Jasmina': A climbing rose with long-lasting pastel pink roses that deepen to mauve in the centre.  This rose has disease resistant foliage and can reach a height of around 8'.

Idea: Again, climbing roses make use of vertical space.

Just off the back door was a small table set for tea.

More small space ideas coming up soon!

Bookmark this post with a pin.


  1. Definitely some wonderful and some very beautiful ideas, Jennifer.
    I really love container gardening. You can be so creative with it, and it can really "make" an area that would otherwise be quite overlooked.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Happy day to you!

  2. Great pictures. We visited Niagara-on-the-Lake once on a trip to Toronto and we greatly enjoyed it. Of course it was winter, so instead of visiting gardens we tasted ice-wines and late-harvest wines from the area. That made up for the lack of gardens to peruse.

  3. I found this post to be extremely useful Jennifer! Those small spaces are gorgeous and spilling over with the most amazing colors! And I bookmarked several of the roses you listed above as they are out of this world! It is always awesome to see smaller scale gardens as that is what most of us have and these tips come in handy for so many areas of my own space! Thank you and what a treat this must have been for you! Happy week to you friend! Nicole xoxo

  4. What a beautiful tour and great tips Jennifer! The gardens and little spaces are such lovely retreats. I loved seeing these amazing spaces.

  5. Just delicious. Thanks for sharing. Your small space ideas can be utilized in small garden rooms within a larger garden.

  6. You must have had a very good weekend. These are indeed excellent examples of how to get the maximum out of a small space. The pots are very nicely planted.

  7. I love to see what people have done with what we would call 'courtyard' gardens. You have to be quite inventive to get the most out of the area - and these gardens have done it in spades. Some clever ideas that I shall remember when I plant up my terrace garden next year.

  8. You have brought back such happy memories of our trip to Niagara on the Lake from a few years ago, such a pretty place, but as the gardens weren't open we just enjoyed what we could see in the front gardens. You have shown us such lovely gardens with good planting for a small space.

  9. There are many interesting ideas, Jennifer. I love grow flowers in containers!

  10. It always amazes me how small space gardeners create such an impact. Love these tips!

  11. Lovely yards with some great ideas. My new back yard is small and I knew you'd be the one to go to for ideas about how to maximize it.

  12. How very beautiful all these courtyards are, and some excellent tips too. I often think the smaller gardens tend to be the most beautiful. Looking forward to hearing more.xxx

  13. Absolutely lovely to see all these beautiful photographs. That rosa 'Amadeus' is fantastic. I'll have to look that one up, although I suspect it might not be hardy in my zone. Our garden tour is this weekend. What were the reactions when you asked if you could photograph their gardens?

    1. People have been very gracious and I have yet to be turned away. I think they are proud of what they have accomplished in their gardens (and so they should be) and are happy to share them publicly.

  14. ;) I probably can't either find OR grow the Amadeus here. I'll stick with my tried-and-true Canadian Explorers! xx

    1. I have a couple of Explorer roses and well Diane and I agree that they are great performers.

  15. Una belleza todas estas ideas y detalles!!! Preciosa entrada.
    Un fuerte abrazo.

  16. Ooohh, so many lovely arrangements, but I loved the rose garden the most! That first picture with the container has my absolute favourite colour combinations, pink and dark burgundy/crimson. I use variations of that everywhere in my own garden. Thanks for sharing all those lovely photos :-)

  17. What lovely containers. I love all of the bright color. So cheerful. Don't you think garden tours are the best thing to get our motors running and inspiration restored? I found your blog through Donna's. So nice to meet you.

  18. Un très beau jardin et de bonnes idées. Bonne semaine.

  19. Really beautiful...I think I adore small gardens even more as they are so creatively chock full of plants.

  20. Beautiful photos, as always! And I can definitely relate. I cram 'em in every square inch available. :)

  21. It's so breathtaking to look at those roses and garden ideas! Just one thought popped up in my mind - they probably take care of those gardens full time, right? It's not so realistic to go to work, take care of children and at the same time to take care of your big garden, or?
    OMG and that seating area! I've been looking for something like that for years, but my husband don't act like I'll ever get it :( I found very similar garden set,here in Toronto,in Fresh store but it's really expensive one. Does anybody know a place where I could buy the garden set?

    Anyway, I really love your pictures, especially that one with the red roses, I'm pinning it right away! :))

    Have a great day full of flowers!


    1. Actually I think a few of these gardens would be relatively low maintenance. The rose garden would be a bit more work and would need regular deadheading for a continuous show of flowers. Container plantings would also require daily watering, but that could be done in a half an hour or so a day.
      Now is a great time to be looking for outdoor furniture. Everything is on sale! Good luck in trying to convince your hubby to invest in that perfect find!

  22. Gorgeous photos and so many interesting ideas! :)

  23. So many beautiful flowers and gardens! The mix of roses in the jug is favourite today, wonderful.

  24. Lovely pictures Jennifer! I thought the Rosa 'Desmina' that you couldn't find on google looks a lot like the Jasmina rose. Perhaps it was that?
    - Jane gigglingwithdragons.com

    1. I think you're right: it is Rosa 'Jasmina'. I am going to update the post with the correct identification. Thank you so much Jane!


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