Guest Post: Genius Tips for Making Small Yards Big on Functionality by Tim Smith of

Today’s guest post is somewhat off-topic as it is not directly related to tea. However, the creative people at offered to prepare a guest post for a topic of my choice, and I was happy to take them up on the offer. has many beautiful and creative ideas on ways to improve the looks of any aspect of your home’s indoor and outdoor space.

My home is located about two miles outside of downtown Pittsburgh, and the yard is smaller in size, about 1,500 square feet. When searching the internet for inspiration on how to best arrange my yard to get the most out of limited space, I more frequently found impractical articles intended for larger outdoor spaces. So I took this opportunity with Modernize to request an article about how to get the most beauty and use out of my small yard.

Modernize had one of their writers, Tim Smith, research and prepare the following suggestions for homeowners such as myself with limited outdoor space. Looking at some of the ideas below, I can definitely imagine a more pleasant and beautiful space to share tea with friends and family.

Now, please give Mr. Tim Smith some well-deserved attention, and visit the Modernize website for more home beautification ideas. Thank you, Tim Smith and Modernize, for your contributions to The Tea Journeyman blog.


Genius Tips for Making Small Yards Big on Functionality

By Tim Smith


Have a postage stamp yard when you have dreams of an acreage? Fear not: We’ve compiled ideas from around the world to help show you that you can still pull off big ideas even if you’re working with a small space.


1. Japan as Inspiration

Japan Garden

Asian Landscape by Los Angeles Architects & Building Designers Whipple Russell Architects

Japan has some of the world’s most beautiful gardens, many in the small spaces demanded by crowded cities like Tokyo.

While they are short on space, that doesn’t prevent their owners from enjoying their grounds for generations. Much of the Japanese outdoor garden art is based on Zen Buddhism, which traveled to Japan from China.

Just a corner devoted to these art forms will bring beauty and peace to even the tiniest yard. There is no reason why these zen gardens need to take up more than a corner between two fences. It will provide a unique focal point in what might have been an overlooked area of a tiny yard.

Consider learning the arts of zen gardening, including sand gardens, bonsai trees and rock gardens.


2. Gardening Anywhere

Hanging Garden

Contemporary Landscape by Sausalito Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Shades Of Green Landscape Architecture

The trick to gardening in a small space is to plant within and plant up. Everyone has vertical space; the problem is that we see space in horizontals.

If you have a fence or a wall, use vertical scaffolding to keep flowers, fruits or vegetables in place. There are also vertical tower planting containers that use a non-dirt planting medium that can bring gardening to any place in a small yard.


3. City Rooftops

Roof Garden

Contemporary Garage And Shed by San Francisco Architects & Building Designers Feldman Architecture, Inc.

Many city dwellers have rooftops that are strong enough to withstand use for gardening and other backyard translations. Be certain that the building owner agrees to this use. There may be issues with zoning, permitting and insurance.

If allowed, a veritable fairy garden can take shape. Lighting for night use, gardens and even water features can combine with seating for the entire building. It can be a great place for friends and neighbors to hang out.


4. Ditch the Grass

No Grass

Contemporary Deck by Sydney Landscape Contractors On Common Ground Landscapes

Grass within a very small space is far more difficult to care for than with a regular lawn. How do you cut it? It is usually too small for a mower and too large for scissors.

In this example, this interesting seating area over decking covers the ground, preventing grass and weeds. A few weekends with a hammer gives a permanent solution along with a sophisticated look and real practicality.


5. Create an Intimate Seating Area

Intimate Seating

Contemporary Patio by Amsterdam Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Boekel Tuinen

Even the smallest yard can accommodate an intimate seating area. This yard has permanent benches amid beautiful plantings both in containers and in the ground.

For more design inspiration and other tips and tricks, please visit


2 thoughts on “Guest Post: Genius Tips for Making Small Yards Big on Functionality by Tim Smith of

  1. Sometimes off topics are genius.
    Grass is a tedious, boring, high maintenance weed.
    We have seen beautiful and imaginative front yard gardens in other parts of the world, and even a few rebels in Canada are slowly altering their patches of green with vivid textures and colours.

    I appreciate your generous posts about truly amazing teas, especially the rare ones.
    Slog…um…blog on. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Dee! Yeah, considering the snowy conditions of Pittsburgh today, some daydreaming of how to arrange the yard come spring and summer is a welcome emotional detour. I have contemplated eliminating some grass, but have a soon-to-be four year old who needs room to run, so I have to think hard about the strategy that will accommodate everyone. I certainly would have no complaints about having less grass to cut. 🙂


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