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How to Make a Small Garden Look Larger: Creating an Illusion of Space

Make a half acre or less feel like a sprawling estate with these ideas

Fine Gardening – Issue 174

Land is somewhat hard to come by in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. When a real estate listing mentions “land,” it sometimes just means enough space to squeeze between yours and your neighbor’s house. So, in 1984 when my husband, George, and I found a lot that was a half acre of pitch pines and poison ivy, we were excited—but also concerned. Would this small property be able to satisfy a lifetime of plant addiction? Though not garden designers by trade, each of us had been in horticulture for our entire working lives, so we were confident we could make the garden feel bigger than it actually was. Over the past 33 years, we’ve learned several tactics to maximize the space we’ve got.

Instead of carving up our property into multiple small gardens, we chose to lay out the largest garden beds possible. In these “big” borders, the plant placement…

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