Gardens for small, difficult spaces

small difficult spaces

It’s not easy gardening in my neighborhood. The homes here are on small lots in the hills. None of the yards are flat, some are very steeply sloped, and many have necessary but ugly retaining walls. It costs a fortune to redo hardscaping, driveways, and patios because of the retaining wall and drainage functions, so a lot of us have to live with what’s there even if it’s run down or just plain hideous (my hardscaping is both run down and hideous, yay!). There might only be a little spot for a garden before the hill drops away. Water runs off or drains away. The hills here are full of native oaks which are beautiful, but nearly impossible to grow things under.

Above, the citrus tree and topiary are in terra cotta pots. Lavender and tiny boxwood hedges add structure. Yellow, purple, and white annuals fill in the rest of the spaces and add color.

small difficult spaces

This home is on a down slope and the front has very limited space for plants. When this 1950s ranch got a modern facelift, the garden did as well. Mixed grasses and Gaura lindheimeri are low maintenance, drought tolerant, and sway with the frequent wind.

small difficult spaces

This garden is partly shaded by oaks and pines. I didn’t take a picture of the house but it’s an A frame that would be right at home in the mountains and the garden shares the mountain vibe. The upper terrace has a small sitting area. Mixed evergreens, asparagus ferns, helichrysum, euphorbia, japanese maple, and mexican feather grass can all tolerate the dry part shade. And how cool is that house number?

small difficult spaces

I’m not sure if you can tell what’s going on here, but the street and driveway are higher than the house so the courtyard garden is basically in a hole. So shade and not a lot of space. They’ve chosen plants and packed the beds for a lush, colorful effect. The Cordylines are beautiful accent plants and everything is tall enough so that you can see the some of the garden from street level. If they had gone with smaller plants, the view down in the courtyard would still be pretty but from the street, the house would look bare instead of lush and inviting.

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