The desire to create functional and fashionable urban gardens has grown exponentially over the last ten years as urban property owners embrace their cloistered sanctuaries.   With patience and well conceived thought it is very possible to create an award winning designed garden in a relatively modest sized space.

Designing an urban garden

Brooklyn garden design is garden planning for a relatively small space.  For instance, in Brooklyn, New York where Todd Haiman Landscape Design builds a significant percentage of his gardens, Brooklyn brownstone properties and Brooklyn townhouse properties are sited on building plots (which on average are) 100’ long by 20’ wide. (Some even narrower.) 

Brooklyn garden design

Most of the brownstone yards are 40'-55' deep.  Some have a terrace overlooking the yard. These small but charming jewelry box size backyards with fences can become highly developed areas behind the house.  This private area can be designed based upon functionality and programming. Some people want a private area to use for relaxation, others want a patio design for the enjoyment of a weekend breakfast on the patio.  Whether you create a vegetable garden or a garden retreat a garden designer can assist you.

Small garden design idea

Tucked away in the heart of the metropolis, these small sanctuaries of verdant nature are enclosed by fences and large apartment buildings.  Challenges such as noise, lack of sunlight (at times), pollution and the eyes of curious neighbors all make these “giardino segrettos” (secret gardens) very difficult to create without a solid garden design plan.  With a carefully designed garden plan, the lack of outward views needn’t be a limiting factor, rather an opportunity to take advantage of.  Just think of all the beautiful medieval cloister gardens!

Brooklyn garden design for a narrow space

Design solutions for challenging sites

An example of a design solutions for difficult environments such as intrusive neighbors would be a vertical landscape design, in essence a vegetative screen.  Harsh climates and microclimates can be addressed with native plants and understanding your plant zones. If a certain plant is “tender” it can be placed to receive southern exposure close to the residence. Radiant heat of the building and obstruction of strong winds will temper freezing effects a few degrees.  Narrow entry ways can be widened by the use of outdoor mirrors attached to buildings, fences and walls — not only does it add “depth” but it also reflects light.

green and white contemporary garden

Garden inspiration for a contemporary garden

Find garden inspiration for your Brooklyn garden design by looking at contemporary garden design photos.  It’s critical to remember that the gardening design should depend upon your lifestyle.  People with hectic lifestyles may need to consider low maintenance gardens if they are not going to practice garden maintenance themselves or hire a garden maintenance company.

Create a garden style

  • Zen garden design
  • Romantic garden design
  • Exuberant garden design
  • Contemporary garden design
  • Potager garden design
  • Classic garden design
  • Exotic garden design


Functional garden designs

Whether it’s one of the previous styles or a divergent style, you should have a garden design that works!  The design should:

  • Define the principal walkway and circulation
  • Create transitions by variations in level or material or perspective
  • Define garden rooms
  • Incorporate garden “nooks” to add complexity
  • Work with the surrounding landscape
  • Solve existing challenges
  • Address your needs and aspirations
  • A critical design element to consider is “thinking vertical” in a small space.  Ideas for a Brooklyn garden design are endless. The ultimate goal is to turn your small backyard, patio or balcony into an "oasis."
Chelsea small garden