Garden Photo of the Day

Tiny Side-Yard Makeover

Even the smallest spaces can become gardens

espalier apple tree

My name is Kerry and I live in Portland, Oregon. When I moved into my home eight years ago, the small side yards consisted of concrete and a chain-link fence. Over time, my husband and I replaced the fence and added green. We love our small garden!

before and after of side yard gardenA world of difference in this small space!

strawberries growing in a window boxOn the north side we painted gutters and window boxes and hung them on the fence. Here the strawberries growing in the painted gutters are beginning to produce.

Catmint growing in a window box on a fenceThe catmint (Nepeta × faassenii, Zones 4–8) growing in the window boxes on the fence is beautiful, and the hummingbirds and bees enjoy it too!

purple ice plantWe planted a variety of succulents on the ground along the fence, which we divide as they grow. (This looks like it might be purple ice plant: Delosperma cooperi, Zones 5–9).

before and after of side yard that now has raised garden bedsOn the south side we built planter boxes, where we grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers. We added rain barrels for watering during Oregon’s dry summers.

raised bed and container gardenTo maximize growing space, we used hanging baskets, containers, and trellises. I enjoy all of the colors and scents as I walk by.

nasturtium flowerA nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus, annual) is in one of the hanging baskets.

Mr Lincoln rose‘Mr. Lincoln’ rose is a classic variety famous for its rich dark red color, beautiful shape, and strong fragrance.

espalier apple treeWe lined part of the fence with a small espalier apple tree. The tree is grafted so that each of the three rows is a different variety of apple. Our dog’s favorite is the Honeycrisp! (Want to learn more about making espaliers? Check out this article.)

succulents on a fenceWe painted a wooden pallet, planted it with succulents, and positioned it on the back of the fence. The succulents spread to the surrounding area as well.


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View Comments


  1. moyra_b 06/16/2021

    What a clever, creative use of space!! It must give you so much pleasure!

    1. kerry_in_pdx 06/16/2021

      Thank you! Yes, it's fun to watch everything grow

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/16/2021

    Absolutely wonderful what you have done with a tiny space.

    1. kerry_in_pdx 06/16/2021

      Thank you!

  3. Sunshine111 06/16/2021

    Very clever & creative! Great job!

    1. kerry_in_pdx 06/16/2021

      Thank you!

  4. User avater
    simplesue 06/16/2021

    I love "before and after" photos to see how a space was changed!
    That little hummingbird would have never been there if not for you making a garden out of that narrow space, such a great photo!
    You've turned a dull narrow space into a useful place of interest and fun for yourselves and nature!

    1. kerry_in_pdx 06/16/2021

      Thanks! We love seeing the hummingbirds and the bees.

  5. btucker9675 06/16/2021

    Love your pallet succulent planter - looks so good!

    1. kerry_in_pdx 06/16/2021

      Thank you! We used milk paint which chips over time and gives a nice weathered look. We stapled landscaping cloth onto the pallet to put the plants in

  6. sandyprowse 06/16/2021

    Congratulations. You have done wonders in a small area and all your improvements are unique but amazing. Well done. You are an inspiration.

    1. kerry_in_pdx 06/16/2021

      Thank you! You are very kind. I can't take credit for all of the ideas - many were borrowed from other yards I saw and liked, or from episodes of Monty Don's Big Dreams Small Spaces!

  7. sohappygardening 06/16/2021

    You’ve proven that you can do a lot with a little. Nice job!

    1. kerry_in_pdx 06/16/2021

      Thank you!

  8. Cenepk10 06/16/2021

    That is so clever !!! No stopping you !!! Love it all. Such ingenious solutions!

    1. kerry_in_pdx 06/16/2021

      Thank you! No stopping indeed -- there's always room for just one more plant : )

  9. runfortheroses 06/17/2021

    Very cool use of space. Really like the espalier, and the use of succulents. Clever

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