Landscape design

Gorgeous Garden Design by Alexandra Abuza, New York, USA


Small Urban Garden Transformation in Brooklyn by A. Abuza

This is the fascinating story of how talented New York garden designer Alexandra Abuza transformed a tiny backyard plot in Brooklyn into an atmospheric outdoor space.  This article shows step by step how this undeveloped city garden was carefully redesigned to make the most of the limited space and provide a fabulous area for relaxing and entertaining in.  So if you are feeling uninspired by your urban plot, take heart, many of the ideas here could be used in a similarly small and enclosed city garden.

Small urban garden design in Brooklyn by Alexandra Abuza


The total area that Abuza had to work with was only 14.6 x 6.4 meters and presented the designer with some considerable challenges. In addition, the owner of the garden wanted to see results quickly.  However, in response to the demanding brief, Abuza succeeded in designing a delightful landscape in miniature. This city oasis is brimming with plants, stone pathways, a patio, and a shaded seating area.

Garden Design Ideas


The starting point for this small urban garden transformation was an uninspiring grey concrete plot that certainly didn’t really deserve to be called a garden.  Before any greenery was established the hard landscaping and a degree of soil improvement had to take place.  This stage took about two weeks to complete. Abuza started with the aged stonework and established the basic structure of the garden.  There was already a tall fence in place to provide privacy and define the boundaries. In addition to this, Abuza built a stone pathway and patio area.  At this stage he also built the timber framed arbor.  Once these elements were in place the skeletal framework of the garden could be embellished with plants.

Atmospheric Small Urban Garden Transformation

Urban Garden transformation idea

To create the desired atmosphere in this small urban garden transformation, Abuza selected materials and plants carefully.  The stone was chosen for its aged rustic quality, and the timber used in the arbor also appears muted and looks as though it has been in place for years.

The whole garden has a romantic and timeless feel, it could almost have been transported form a quant country cottage in rural England. In fact, Abuza said that his aim was to

“… create something that looks like it has always been here, something a little wild and old.

Small gorgeous garden design

Garden design in New York - small garden idea

He certainly achieved this through his sensitive planting scheme, this included encouraging Irish moss and creeping thyme to grow between the stepping stones. Climbing plants and other creepers were trained to grow up and cover the perimeter fence. Here traditional species such as ivy flourish. Climbing hydrangea is also an important feature in the garden, because it appears old and well established even in its infancy. Other species, planted to create the desired wild and untamed atmosphere, are Nepeta, Russian sage, lady’s mantle, and crane’s bill geranium.  These have been allowed to become slightly overgrown and spread over the pathways and other stone work.

Pure nature in the garden

Gorgeous Small Garden Design by Abuza

It was decided to keep the colors in the garden muted and harmonious to avoid the small space becoming too busy or oppressive with color. So, Abuza chose a limited palette of blues, violets and yellows amongst delicate silvery greens. There is also a big emphasis placed on the foliage providing all year round color and texture. This planting scheme established a serene, tranquil mood which is perfect for relaxing in.

Beautiful Garden Design Idea by Alexandra Abuzza

Small Garden Design by A. Abuza

Although this small urban garden transformation is complete and looks perfect, there is still room for more development.  As the designer says, a garden is never really ‘finished’.  Remarkably, this whole project took less than ten weeks to complete, so if you started a similar transformation in spring you would be enjoying your beautiful urban garden in summer.

Wild flowers in the garden design

Gorgeous Small Garden Design by Alexandra Abuza

Small garden design – perfect for relaxation and fun

small garden design - transformation

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