12. Keep maintenance to a minimum. One of the great things about small spaces is that they’re easy to clean. So don’t muck with this advantage! Arthur suggests using more planters rather than ground-cover soil. “Otherwise mud inevitably ends up all over your small patio space, ” he says. “Containers give you the warmth of planters but are more manageable.”
Native succulents and grasses minimize water use, but you should also consider artificial turf. “It maintains color and character better than a natural yard, ” Beyerl says. San Francisco designer Martha Angus used artificial turf in the backyard space shown here; she also recommends faux boxwood. “A boxwood hedge might be 18 to 24 inches deep, ” she says. “That takes up a lot of space. Faux boxwood comes in squares that are 3 inches deep that you can staple to a fence. They’re absolutely gorgeous, don’t require water and take up no room whatsoever.”
13. Terrace a sloping yard. Angus’ project here highlights another good method of increasing a tight backyard space. If you’ve got a severely sloping yard, consider terracing. Granted, terracing can be incredibly expensive, says Angus, because an extensive substructure must be created to support the terraces, but, as you can see, it provides more flat surface for activities.