Saturday, February 7, 2015

8 Creative Ideas for Urban Outdoor Spaces

Hving a piece of green space in the city, no matter how small, is something to treasure. But urban outdoor spaces are notorious for being oddly shaped, not so sunny and, yes, small. Here are nine creative ways to work with what you’ve got — whether it’s a tiny balcony or a row-house lot.

1. Trellis-lined gravel path.

Turn a narrow row-house back lot into an enchanting allée by lining the walls with wood trellises and climbing plants. A gravel path is an affordable and chic way to finish the space.

2. Fake grass (yes, really!).

Kinda silly or sort of cool? You decide. But when real grass is not a realistic option, a bit of fake green underfoot can be a cheerful addition to an urban outdoor space.

3. Split-level deck.

Try a deck with a few levels to create the feeling of different zones in a small outdoor space — even a slight shift in height can add a lot of visual interest. Perhaps put seating on one level, a grill on another and leave one open as pass-through space.

4. Linked outdoor rooms.

This Portland, Oregon, backyard packs a lot of living into a modest space. A soaking tub, dining table and fire pit each get a zone, defined by concrete slabs bordered in a mossy ground cover. A maple tree planted near the center of the yard provides shade and a focal point.

5. Urban playground.

Keep active kids busy with a backyard play structure and room to run around. Benches on either side of the yard plus a dining zone provide plenty of places for grown-ups to enjoy too. This yard is already pretty low maintenance.

6. Mini Zen garden.

Simple wood-plank decking is bisected by a “river” of stones and boulders on this courtyard patio. More wood planks mounted on the wall provide organic warmth as well as a place to hang potted plants.

7. Wall garden.

Save floor space in a compact city patio and get your greens too, by installing a wall of planters. Choose succulents for low-maintenance beauty or fill pots with tender lettuces and herbs for an edible urban feast. Tend the plants with a hose extension and keep a ladder handy for when you need to get a closer look at the plants.

8. Rooftop oasis.

A green roof, an outdoor dining zone and weathered wood walkways make this city rooftop equal parts livable and ecofriendly. Clumps of tall grasses and native flowers offer a welcome counterpoint to the tall buildings all around.



  1. I'm not a city girl, I prefer to stay in the quiet outskirts of the metro. With wide spaces and a huge tree with a tree house. But that's just me dreaming, about the tree house haha, although we have lots of trees, fruit bearing ones. The city life indeed is looking better and promising with these options.

  2. I always like fake grass because they are of low-maintenance. I stay in an apartment so not much of outdoor space for gardens. So I do my best to add some nature with fresh flowers and arrange them into a vase, to beautify my kitchen tabletop. Thanks for sharing these ideas ;)

  3. Wow, it's really a dream corner, how I wish my future partner will be earning enough to buy something like that together with me!

  4. wow, such nice décor for small outdoor spaces! I like the very first picture, with a long and narrow corridor that's done up so nicely.

  5. Beautiful they are !! Always lived in city and never got the chnace to enjoy that sit back lazy kind of ghe day in my backyard. This will look perfect anytime when i will move to a countryside kind of home.

  6. My condo only has space for potted plants :(

  7. Love all of these ideas - it really is about making the most of your space. How fab would it be to have a hot tub in your yard! Sim x

  8. Nice ideas. I have a small garden space and since I am not into gardening, my aunt created and maintained the garden for me. Lucky me!

  9. It is a pity when an urban space cannot have plants. That is such a dry and cold place, ugly even. Plants definitely can liven up houses.

  10. Love the ideas esp the no. 3. I'm gonna show this to hubby I'm sure he'll like the ideas.

    Thanks for sharing!

  11. Love to put fake grass in our veranda, but my mother doesn't like it because it is hard to maintain and manage an artificial turf.

  12. You have given me idea on what to do with our patio! Thanks! - KarenT

  13. I loved the 6th one the most. Thanks for the amazing ideas dear.
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  14. My favorite has to be the linked outdoor rooms, such an effective way of using space while landscaping!

  15. These are wonderful ideas. I love the zen garden and I think this would perfect for my small yard.

  16. The ideas you have shared is indeed amazing, would like to have it done in case we are in the process of renovating our place.