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Services What We Do


The design process begins with us viewing your outdoor space and brainstorming the ways in which the space might evolve. We will discuss your likes and dislikes as well as your practical demands of the space and other topics essential to create your unique, perfect out-door room.

We will then follow up our initial consultation with a broad outline of the design concept. Once a design is commissioned, we will return to document the space(s). Next, a design will be rendered by hand and incorporated into a detailed presentation explaining all elements of the design. Along with this design, an inclusive installation budget will be presented.


We offer various maintenance packages from one-time garden clean-outs, fall cleanups, spring spruce ups to ongoing maintenance services.

Maintenance services include pruning plants, small ornamental trees, and shrubs; fertilizing, irrigating, mulching beds; mowing, aerating, fertilizing, over-seeding, and mulching of lawns; raking and sweeping. Our team of professional urban gardeners will leave your space ready for you to go out into and enjoy.


A Small Green Space can install any space that we have designed. From fencing to patios, to decks and arbors, to plantings and furniture selection, we have the expertise and experience to handle all of your build needs.


A Small Green Space offers various types of consulting services, including but not limited to:

  • Problem Solving
  • Preparing a space for impending sale or rental
  • Teaching
  • Existing Planting Plan Overhaul

About Company Biography

A Small Green Space is a full-service urban landscape design/build/maintenance firm. We have been creating urban outdoor “living” rooms since 2009.

The owner, Emma Lam, is both a garden designer and a horticulturist. With a background in theatre and childhood homes in both England and New England, Emma brings a dramatic flare to the lush, outdoor living spaces she creates.

Emma’s training includes KLC School of Designs’ Garden Design course and a Certificate of Horticulture from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

No Space is too small to be green.

Portfolio Our Works

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Narrow Row House Garden


The client requested that we take a look at the staircase, as there was concern with its structural integrity. Although the request was just for the stairs, we actually ended up redesigning the entire space.

- A large, very sick and overgrown pine tree
- Misplaced, oversized vines running along the fence, which occupied a large area
- A badly-built staircase
- An unattractive paver patio filled with white gravel
- A rotting “flush-to-the-ground” deck
- Access to space was up the front stairs, through the house & down the outdoor stairs
- The clients beloved large dog has 24-hour access to freely roam the space, via a dog door


The theme is a relaxed, low-maintenance, modern outdoor room. Monochromatic coloring with an emphasis on different shades of grey makes the space feel larger while at the same time maintaining its intimacy.

The space is divided into two different rooms: the first being the paver patio (which is accessible via my client’s tenant’s space), the second being the living room deck. The overgrown vines that previously crowded the fence are gone. A low-maintenance composite deck with inset lighting has been built along with a new custom staircase (which was installed via the neighbors yard by taking down a fence panel).


Amongst the various container plantings, a vertical wall planting has been added. A mix of annuals and perennials add color to the drab fencing.

A stone wall fountain incorporates the element of water into the space.

City Balcony


This deck was bare. The clients, who have impeccable taste in art, were at a loss of what to do with their small outdoor area. They wanted to “breathe life” into it. They wanted more color and interest plus comfortable “lounging” furniture, to sunbathe every chance they could get. They also wanted to explore outdoor art options. Along with creating some privacy, they needed to be mindful of their three curious dogs.

- A very small deck
- One end of the deck was visible by the neighbors below
- The boys prep school next-door also looks onto the deck
- The deck is located off of the master bedroom, so one side of the deck is a wall of windows
- The client has three beloved toy poodles which like to chew on everything. Therefore, all plants need to be safe to dogs
- A request for a piece of furniture, on which my over-six-foot client could “lounge”



A vibrant, enticing outdoor retreat has been created. This outdoor room now makes the clients feel comfortable and inspired, which was our main objective.  Color, texture and scent has been added by focusing on lots of lush container plantings. Assorted white planters of various sizes were scattered throughout the deck. The planting material included: annuals, perennials, ornamental grasses, succulents and herbs.

Custom-designed stands made of iron have been built to hold the weight of the extra-large fiberglass planters (5’ long). These stands, however, are light enough to be installed on the deck and narrow enough to use as little space as possible.

A screen of “Black Bamboo” planted in large fiberstone planters at the end of the deck creates the much needed privacy. The bamboo screen also softens some of the city noise.

A small custom stone fountain from England compliments the “life” of the garden.

Finally the wonderful sculptor, Jan Kirsch (http://jankirshstudio.com), was comissioned to create a custom piece: The 3 Birds. This whimsical sculpture sits on the banister, just waiting to be discovered.



City School Garden


The photograph shows how the front of the Learning Community Charter School (LCCS) in Jersey City originally looked.

One of the third grade teachers applied for and won a grant from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Her proposal was entitled, “Geometry Through The Seasons.”

A Small Green Space worked with teachers and students at LCCS for the better part of a year. The design brief was completed with the help of second and third grade students who sketched their own ideas of the gardens after discussing landscape design with A Small Green Space.

The design drawings were presented in the summer of 2012. After much planning, ASGS’s build team started work on the gardens in the fall of that same year.

The idea behind the gardens was to have an outdoor area where the students could discover and learn about primary shapes, math and geometry through nature.


There are four individual “gardens.”  Before, each garden was overrun with weeds and trash and completely enclosed by a short iron fence. None of the plantings were in good shape.

- The front of the school takes up an entire block of a very busy city street.
- Each of the four “gardens” were on an angle and not uniform.
- There was no access to the gardens, as each one was surrounded by a small iron fence. This deterred students from entering or using the areas.
- The brief called for creating at least one area that could accomadate an entire class of around twenty students.
- The music teacher had requested a space where music lessons could be incorporated.
- Each garden was to be an individual room, while keeping them all tied in to one another.
- We wanted to incorporate various shapes occurring in both nature and also man-made elements.


We chose to base each garden on a different shape:

The CIRCLE Chit-Chat Courtyard

This “room” creates a quiet seating area in the shade, allowing students, parents and teachers alike to enjoy a respite under the tree that stands nearby. River stones have been added for both the sound element and the various shapes they embody. The benches are fire pit benches and therefore create a semi-circle of seating. A teacher provided the circular stepping stone tree segments. Jersey City Forestry Department provided a tree trunk table. The evergreen Euonymus lining the path were kindly donated by a school family and will be trained into round shrubs. Japanese Holly and Mouse Ear Hostas, were added due to the round shaped leaves.

The SQUARE Study Seating Area

This room can accommodate an entire class. During good weather, the teachers can actually hold a class outside. Our builder made lovely “square” patterns in the brick paver patio. Again, river stones surround the patio, which cuts down on maintenance yet brings the four spaces together. The plants are in the square planter benches, which also creates extra seating.

The RECTANGLE Ruckus Room

The concept of this room is centered around the idea of sound. Paths of river stones have been incorporated as well as a low deck/boardwalk/stage. The element of sound has been included through the noise created by the various ornamental grasses. The original design included a living willow tunnel structure. I understand the school possibly has plans to construct it this spring.

TRIANGLE Tilling Time

This is the “garden” room. This naturally became the Triangle garden due to the existing triangular evergreen corner shrub. The custom-built, triangular raised beds contain many different shaped plants including bulbs that various people donated.

Each garden has an initial of the school (L-C-C-S) laid out in brick. Eventually these bricks will be painted in the four colors of the school. This aspect of the design was conceived entirely by students, and we loved the “ownership” that this displayed!

Finally an ironsmith cut openings in all of the fences to encourage access.

On a personal note…
This school is not only my daughter’s school; it is also located two blocks from our home. My inner-city neighborhood is very transitional. The positive feedback both LCCS and A Small Green Space have received from both the school families and the neighborhood has been incredibly rewarding.

Every morning and afternoon I watch kids of all different ages sit and chat, make declarations from the top of the tree trunk table and run through the gardens on their way in and out of school. Nothing could beat the feeling of a five-, seven-, or twelve-year-old thanking me for installing their gardens.

 Here you will find a NJ.com report about the gardens.

Small City Deck

The client recently purchased a condo with a small 27×7’ deck surrounded by a 6′ high fence. There was no garden beyond the deck. The feeling of the space was very claustrophobic and dark. The clients are night owls and like to entertain, so a lighting plan was required.

- Working within such a small space
- The space was very shaded and dark
- Unattractive stockade fencing and no budget for new fencing




We created the illusion of more space and optimized what space there is by incorporating custom “convertible” furniture. We constructed an inviting, warm outdoor room where my clients either unwind with a glass of wine or entertain their friends into the wee hours.

The deck now has an added second tier, with custom-designed built-in benches and tables, which creates two separate “rooms”. The the lip of the new deck is edged with tube lighting, whilst a canopy of lights shines from above. The inspiration for this came from outdoor Indian weddings that are often beautifully lit, as the festivities go well into the night.

The custom-built shadow boxes on the fence display art, stones and candles, which creates depth to the fences.

The custom benches we designed slide together to create a table. The table is used on the second-tier deck as a dining table.

The silhouette is the combined skylines of Sydney and New York City from which the clients hailed. The image was hand-painted and has lights to give more depth and interest to the stockade fence.

Contemporary Urban Patio


The clients did their own interior design in this beautiful modern condo. However, A Small Green Space was commissioned, as they admitted defeat when it came to their outdoor space. They wanted a space to match their “Dwell” inspired interior. The brief also included the desire for a relaxation area and a space that could accommodate hosting large summer dinner parties.

- The two-tiered space was very small.
- The top tier opens out onto an ally that could potentially be used as a driveway. The clients wanted to leave the option open.
- The bottom tier had been overlooked and was being used as a junk room.
- The fencing was in poor condition.
- The patio was pitched incorrectly, causing water issues.
- The clients had the wrong scale and style of furniture for their space…and too much of it.
- A very large professional grill was to be included in the space.
- The space is often very sunny and hot.
- Lighting was required.

AFTER: This is now an attractive, comfortable contemporary hang-out. The patio was pulled out and re-pitched, adding a drain across the garage door.  The repurposed patio now has mixed media elements of both pea-stones and artificial lawn segments. We also designed and installed custom horizontal fencing.

The first tier space is now a “kitchen” area, a home for the large grill. Misters have been installed along the underside of the fire escape together with free standing misters and moveable umbrellas, which keep the heat of the day at bay. The planting bed is painted red and filled with Black Bamboo and river stones. This creates a calming view from the interior through the wall of windows.

The lush “tropical” planting plan is entirely created with container plantings and is therefore moveable.

Finally, reclaimed wood furniture with a modern appeal breaks the upper tier into two separate areas: a sitting room and a dining area.




LED rechargeable outdoor lighting creates a mood and lengthens the glorious summer evenings.









Shaded Brownstone Garden


The client had recently purchased a lovely brownstone home. The realtor’s listing described the garden as “beautifully landscaped.” (see left)

My client wanted a safe and attractive space for the whole family (that includes two small children) to hang out in.


Challenges of the Space:
-  The existing patio was dangerous for little kids and adults alike. It consisted of mismatched, cracked cement,  bluestone and random pavers. It had sharp edges and an uneven surface.
-  The space is wide but very shallow.
-  The cinderblock wall was unattractive, but there was no budget for new fencing.
-  There was nowhere to sit comfortably.
-  The budget was very tight.


Our design focused on utilizing the width of the space. The feel and look we wanted to create was somewhat Scandinavian, as one of the clients hails from Sweden.

As the budget was tight, we chose to cover the patio with a platform deck. The finish is a light-shade paint that brightens this very shaded space.

The benches, tables and planters are all custom-built.

We choose a light green color and marine varnished the bench and tabletops. The planters are incorporated into the back of the benches and double as back rests. These planters are filled with herbs, which produce pleasant aromas to assist in relaxation whilst one is lounging on the bench.

The cinderblock wall was washed off and re-painted in the raspberry color, which compliments the variety of greens in the space. The muted blue of the Dwarf Spruces add a calming touch to the foreground.

Finally, a small lawn was incorporated for the children to play on.

Contact Get in Touch

  • Phone: 917-414-2993
  • Email: info@asmallgreenspace.com

Remodeling and Home Design