Small space, big style

With a little planning, small yards can become beautiful gardens

Special to the Packet and the GazetteAugust 11, 2013 

Almost every morning, Fred Palcho and his wife, Sonya, can be seen weeding and trimming their garden.

"I did everything myself," Fred Palcho said. "We have a yard that I'm very proud of and I've learned a lot of things."

Living in a townhome in Westbury Park in Bluffton, the Palchos turned the courtyard between his house and detached garage into a Charleston-style garden, featuring a slate walkway, a granite fountain and a variety of plants in containers throughout the small space.

The Palchos' yard is just one example of how a small yard can be made into the outdoor living area many move to the Lowcountry to enjoy.

Michael Cox, landscape architect for Sunshine Hardscape, Landscape and Nursery in Bluffton, said designing for a small space starts with understanding what a customer wants to do in the space.

"Once that has been determined, (we need to) work to create some type of floor, walls and ceiling," he wrote in an email response. "The addition of color and texture will also be extremely important in making a small space 'pop.'"

The Palchos are always on the hunt for another piece to add to the garden. One piece -- a stone mural they found at the Habitat for Humanity Restore -- was purchased to make a fountain.

"It's an ongoing process," Fred Palcho said. "I like to think that a lot is sort of like an easel and you make the painting."

Cox said he thinks small spaces are easier to design for outdoor entertainment.

"In a smaller space, areas are easier to delineate and in larger spaces areas have to be created," he wrote. "Once areas have been delineated or created the design process is generally the same."

Gary Moews, special projects consultant for The Greenery, said he often sees customers who want too many different plants for the space they have.

"Stick with a simple design," he said. Moews specializes in small projects at The Greenery. "From a design standpoint, I sometimes look around the neighborhood and I try to see what's going well around there," he said.

Hardscapes and containers have come to the forefront for many homeowners in the area. Ashley Hamilton, director of marketing for Lowcountry Paver, said the company has seen a rise in do-it-yourself kit sales, especially with fire pits.

Outdoor fireplaces, small patios, bars, and other entertainment pieces have become the trend in the outdoor living experience, Hamilton said.

"I would stress, if you are looking to do a job with a paver, to really do your research and look at quality versus price," she said.

Moews said he suggests water features for customers, as well.

"It's really a great thing to add in," he said. In order to add some color into a small garden space, I'll add a pot or two. An occasional pot in landscape enables you to get color into a landscape where you don't want to add a lot of flowers."

For Fred Palcho, flowers were last on the list.

"To me, the plants are prettier in their natural state than having a bunch of flowers," Palcho said. "The leaves themselves will give you the color."

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