Think you can’t do much with small gardens? Think again! There are countless amazing ideas that can turn any small space into an excellent garden paradise, with fitting compact features to enrich and enhance. After reading this, you’ll be glad you’ve got a neat little area to enjoy!
Space is at a premium for most of us, so here are my top ten tips for garden design for those smaller outdoor spaces.
1. Use height
Walls, garages, the side of a fence—it’s all good space. Inside the house, we use walls for pictures, mirrors and cupboards and you can do the same with your garden!
Use creepers like Trachelospermum (star jasmine) and tremendous trailers, such as the vibrantly coloured Phlox subulata ‘McDaniel’s Cushion’, to adorn high spaces.
Get blooms up on high with containers like hanging baskets of trailing Pelargonium (geraniums) , window boxes and exquisite wall mangers.
Living wall gardens are a great way to fill a bare space and they look contemporary and exciting too.
An easy option for making one of these is to attach a wooden pallet to a wall and fill with plant pots until the pallet is hidden behind a vertical carpet of lush foliage. Great plants to include on a living wall are Salvia microphylla ‘Kew Red’, Campanula persicifolia and edible plants like lettuce ‘Lollo Rosa’ and succulent strawberries.
These all draw the eye upwards, making the smaller space feel bigger and adding the ‘wow’ factor to your garden or balcony.
Create your very own secret garden with hidden areas and cosy hideaways. Divide your garden into sections, using bamboo screens, trellis or walls of foliage and decorate each area with different plants and garden furniture. These are perfect for hiding small seating areas and comfy garden getaways.
Ornamental grasses can be ideal for softening the appearance of barriers and will appear to give your divided gardens more depth at the lower levels. Go for delightful grasses like Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ and Stipa tenuissima (Mexican feather grass).
This will make it feel bigger, because you can’t see everything in one go. Even in a small space, something like an arch will create separate garden areas.
3. Pave diagonally
Paving laid squarely can make your garden look smaller than it is and with a simple trick of the eye, you can increase the visual size if your garden.
Lay slabs on the point so they are in a diamond shape to give the optical illusion of a bigger garden,.
Or, to make use of mixed and broken slabs, lay out a topsy-turvy garden for great use of slabs of any size or colour—like diagonal paving, this can give the illusion of a bigger space.
Go for light-coloured paving, like ‘Sun Grande’ from the Pavestone ‘Discovery’ porcelain range, or ‘Sable’ textured paving in the sandy shade of ‘ Apollo’ .
These types of paving will open up your garden, while giving it a contemporary style.
4. Add trees
One of my top tips for certain small garden designs is to squeeze in some larger trees. They’ll give you good height and privacy. Try canopy trees, like Prunus cerasifera (cherry plum) that will give a leafy roof without taking up much space on the ground. You can make even more space by clearing the lower stems away too.
Decorative and ornamental trees can also look great, with a good example being Olea europaea (olive) trees, which can transform any area into a beautiful Mediterranean paradise.
5. Keep it bright
Brightly coloured plants and features can make a compact space appear lighter and bigger.
Golden or light-yellow colours, like Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ or Alyssum montanum, are perfect for brightening up dark patches.
These bright displays of foliage and shrubs will grace your garden with glorious light.
As a general rule, hot colours, like reds and dark yellows make a space feel more intimate.
Cool colours like light-purples, whites and blues recede the field of vision, making a small space feel larger.
6. Attract wildlife
Bird boxes, feeding stations, roosting pouches and insect hotels will help bring your garden to life with exciting bird and insect activity. Garden nature can thrive even in the smallest gardens, so make space for wildlife in your garden design.
Attract more wildlife by planting their favourite flowers, which will please bees and butterflies and give you lots of colour. It will soon be a hive of activity and great fun for kids!