How do you get the maximum out of a very small lot?

I have a 1/4 acre house lot, half of that is occupied by the house leaving much less than 1/8 acre for growing fruits, berries and vegetables. I have:

  • 8 espalier fruit trees along a fence with strawberries growing under them.
  • 9 Ribes on a trellis along one side of shed
  • 14 Ribes in pots
  • 48 sf vegetable garden
  • 2 citrus trees in ground
    20 citrus trees in pots
  • 75 fig trees in pots
  • 3 rhubarb plants along patio
  • 5 sorrel plants near back door

What else can I squeeze in? How can I squeeze more in?

Grow vines on a trellis and shade tolerant plants underneath. I do this with grapes and Ribes. I am planning to grow winecap mushrooms in the mulch under the Ribes.


I have 0.15 acre, including house, 2 sheds, 3 car parking and huge compost pile. It is also located on 7 different levels. I grow full vegetable supply for family of three(enough for canning), other than that I have 15 fruit threes, 10 berry bushes, about 60 strawberry plants and couple flower beds. I do not have any lawn other than some grass in front of the sheds, and small 'technical" area I need to keep free of planting so I have place to wash my pots, fold tarps and so on. I am actually at the point I want to downsize - It is tough to move around when everything is so close. What I found useful is good relationship with neighbors. My neighbors on two sides had undeveloped land and allowed me to clean and plant it in exchange of seasonal care. I have flowers on one neighbor’s land and flowers and raspberries on other side. My third neighbor has absolutely manicured yard, but allows me to plant zucchetta (Italian squash) on his fence and we both pick from it. When I plant garden, I may use the land 2 or even three times a year. For example, I plant garlic in fall on 20X3 bed leaving 3 empty spots 3X3. In early summer I plant 6 watermelons in empty spots, by the time they are about to grow into the garlic garlic gets ready, I pull it up and wait for watermelons. As soon as they done, I can plant fall greens or early cabbage in the same spot depending on the timing


75 potted fig trees stands out in the list; can these be reduced?

@galinas , did you create the vertical space (I think this what you mean by “7 different levels”) or are you just working with your lot’s topography?

Alot of people do more with less… and alot of people do less with more.

I watched a youtube video this morning of a guy that plants two fruit trees per hole in his backyard food forest… both doing amazingly well.

If it were me i would plan out a walkway and plant everything that isnt in the walkway… so basically a food forest.

75 fig trees? Not sure the math on that but at some point you gotta say ok im hoarding.

Fill it to the max… remove what doesnt work.

Is this your forever home? If so then live your best life brother… you cant reap what you dont sow.


Nope, my yard is on the hill, difference in height of top and bottom is at least 10-12’, so I created terraces where it was possible and now my garden and orchard is on 7 different layers.


.17 acre and about filled up. my project for next year is to start a bunch of table grapes next to the south, east, west walls of my house and train them straight up. I’m going to plant them maybe 3 feet on center and let them get 15-20 feet tall. the idea is when I need to paint the house or do other maintenance I can always cut them as low as I need since grapes are fine with that

as I fill things up my strategy for maximizing is to think about where the sunlight hits - what does an observer at the sun see when looking down at my lot? right now the answer is, a lot of siding, roof and driveway, even though it feels planted out. I’m looking to grow things any way I can to change that to plant leaf area instead.

look at “UFO” training for stone fruits, it’s a vertical espalier-type system that takes advantage of the stone fruit desire to grow straight up and become apically dominant. I started a couple this year along my driveway fence and I’m really happy with them so far


I have a rectangular urban .19 acre lot. The long side runs nearly parallels to the sun. The southern fence is chain link with nothing but grass on the neighbors side. The northern fence is wood in the back and chain link in the front.

I run espalier trees along the fence line 7 (chain) or 8 (wood) feet apart. In between I plant a fruit bush. I keep that bush smallish.

I have two non espaliered trees in front (west) of my garage about 5 feet from the siding and two trees in front (west) of the house about 7 feet from the siding.

I have a pretty sturdy grape arbor on the narrow side (south) of the house. But my neighbors house is so close it really only gets morning and evening sun. Under it I have a native salmon berry and a red huckleyberry . I did get some grapes last year though. Its more for a calm place to chill.

In the front (west) center of my house is the side walk that goes to the street. On either side of that I have about 16 blueberries spaced about 4 feet apart. I only have one duplicate variety, the goal is to see which ones I like best and keep them and replace the others.

I have some raspberry and strawberry beds in the back yard about 3 feet from the northern wood fence, but those are being relocated to the front yard and a greenhouse is going there!

Lets see green rectangles are espaliered trees. green circles regular trees. Peach circles are sand alone bushes they are moving from the top to the bottom in the spring. Purple is my grape trellis. Yellow is future espalliers.

And there’s more I just suck at computers


it still blows me away how much you grow with so little land. makes me feel like my land could grow so much more that ive been replanning its use. looks like i still have a way to go to say im out of room. :wink:


This is an older photo of the house we just moved from – still shows a lot of turf. I think the lot was .14 acres? The north side of the yard (top of photo) was 4 espalier apples, a large fruit/vegetable garden, and a large bed of native perennials and grasses. The veg garden was maybe 200 sq ft? We also grew hops and had been considering grapes or hardy kiwi. Although we could have included more apples on espalier (possibly 3 or 4 more), we instead opted to plant arborvitae for wildlife cover. This yard still had space enough for our dog, a fire pit, and a rain garden. I always felt that I could’ve utilized the space better but was very happy with what I accomplished.

Our new lot is .15, but the layout is quirkier. I’ll hopefully be able to update this thread in the spring with some new pics. One thing I will stress is that I try to balance any fruit/veg production with more natural vegetation in the rest of the yard. Another thing I will be able to do at the new house that I couldn’t at the last is have a dedicated bed for coppicing willows and hazel.

Fruit tree guilds…


Plant vertically.

Thanks for this post, it reminded me to make an update! Also, if you fence your yard (depending on the type) it provides a large area to use as a free trellis. Put planters on the edges of windows and fences. Espalier along those same fences to fill in gaps. Plant fruit bushes amongst your yard trees. Put potted plants in your driveway and along sidewalks. Get rid of your lawn. (These are all plans in my mind that have yet to be implemented)


It really depends on the fence. My neighbors on the east and west have stockade fencing, so anything against the east fence is in shade until midday (or after for the west). Combined with my house and some other neighborhood trees, most of those spots get only 4-6 hours of sun. Can work for some things, but not really for most vine crops.


@LarryGene I have that many fig trees because I am trialing most of them. I hope to get rid of 10 more more by next fall.

Anyone have pics of there .3 acre or less fence line plantings? My wife wants nothing but grass but I just order 30 rootstocks and scions :flushed:


my wife was a lawn person too until i convinced her that the land would be much better utilized for food. she at 1st wanted to leave some lawn but since she’s been eating the fruits of my labor, shes all in about growing more fruits, veggies and herbs. as long as i take care of it and it looks nice. grow something she likes to eat or her favorite flowers. :wink:


If you look through my profile you can see one of my espalliers.


I’ll be following along to see the replies in this thread. Still in early planting phases to convert our mostly grassy 0.15 acres (including house & greenhouse) to food-producing trees and garden. So far I have planted out:

24 cold-hardy avocados
3 loquats
2 feijoas
3 pawpaws
1 raspberry
1 fig
2 Chilean guavas
1 Luma apiculata
5 hardy kiwis
2 honeyberries
2 Psidium longipetiolatum
1 Chilean wine palm (for future generations)
3 “edible” seeded bananas to test hardiness
A few other random obscure things I’m forgetting

There is still a lot of lawn left to destroy, especially if many of the avocados end up dying.


Dave Wilson Nursery posted a YouTube video several years back where a person had ~50 fruit varieties on a 1/4 lot from what I recall.

I’ve used that video and their high density planting suggestions as inspiration to put the following on my 1/4 lot (about 1/8 acre of plantable land).

8 apple trees (7 are espalier)
1 espalier pear
9 citrus
7 plums/pluots
2 apricots
1 peach
1 persimmon
2 pomegranates
3 figs

15 blueberries (potted now, but I’m going to plant them). I’ll be planting them 2 feet apart in ground soon.
A bunch of other cane berries. Upright blackberries between my pluots.

I’m planting 5 more trees I have in pots, and 2 others that I’ve ordered this year.

Most of my trees are ~7 feet apart. Except I did one 4-in-1 hole DWN style, and my figs are 3-4feet apart.