If you have a small garden, now more than ever, you’ll want to make the most of all your available space. With smaller outdoor areas, it can be tempting to think your options are limited, but with a well thought out garden design, some clever planting and some key accessories, you can make a small garden become your own little slice of heaven in no time at all.
One of the best things about smaller gardens is that they’re low-maintenance, and with a few little additions you can quickly create a big impact, much more so than you can in a bigger, more open space. However, it definitely does take more detailed planning to make the best of your garden when you do have limited space, which is why we’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite ideas for small gardens that will add depth, drama and intrigue.
Add depth with texture
One of the most effective ways of adding depth to your garden is by filling it with different textures. A blank stretch of lawn won’t immediately provide the eye with any sense of contrast so often makes your garden appear smaller. Mix up decking, paving slabs, tiles, grass and stone chippings to create variety. Having a couple of different textures is great for naturally creating distinct zones in your garden as well, such as a relaxing reading corner.
Draw the eye upwards
A powerful way of making your garden appear larger is by providing intrigue with different levels of height in the garden. Don’t be afraid to introduce a carefully placed tree or two into your outdoor area. A tree that won’t grow too tall is perfect for attracting the eye upwards in a small garden and will instantly add depth. Choose varieties such as small flowering cherry trees, the Japanese maple tree, magnolia and the moonbeam sweet gum.
Get growing vertically
Staying on the theme of drawing the eye upwards, another impressive way of accomplishing this is by growing vertically. Think about using a trellis to trail up plants such as clematis and honeysuckle, the results are always very effective. Alternatively, hanging baskets and wall-mounted planters are great for adding interest and instant colour high up fences and walls.
For a really unique look that’s simple to implement, get your hands on some rustic mesh that can be fixed to a wall or fence and attach terracotta pots filled with different types of flowers and herbs to create instant 3D interest.
Maximise growing space with pots
Pots and planters are ideal if you have a courtyard or balcony that doesn’t have any growing space, and they’ll immediately bring colourful life to your outdoor area. For ultimate impact, choose a variety of coloured pots that have different shapes and sizes to add even more texture. Throw in some pretty garden accessories and you’ll have an area full of personality. Use a mixture of garden plants, herbs, bright blooms and veg to amplify the effect.
Raise it up
If you have a small garden, you’ll often have limited access to good growing soil. Avoid any problems that come with poorly drained soil, and add more interest to your small garden design with raised beds. Perfect for growing anything from shrubs and annuals to veg and herbs, raised planters really are the gardener’s best friend. Allowing you to control soil moisture and pH level, raised planters have endless growing options. Depending on how high you want to make them, the bed’s edge can also double up nicely as extra seating – perfect for utilising the entirety of your small space.
Stimulate the senses
Create a sense of calm in your garden with the gentle trickling sound of a water feature. This can be a big and grand feature to give a key focal point in your garden or it can simply be a clever adaptation of an old piece of furniture. This is also a perfect opportunity to inject a different material to add texture into your garden – a tactile rock for traditional gardens or smooth, shiny stainless steel for adding to the clean cut lines of a modern garden.
Why not take this even further by adding something to stimulate your other senses too. If water and interesting textures cover sound and touch, what about including some tastes (grow your own fruit or veg) and smells (lavender or herbs) for a really lovely sensorial space.
To stimulate your sight, you could also bring in some pops of bright bold colour by giving your fences and furniture a splash of paint. From shocking pinks to daringly dark navy, there’s plenty to choose from for both wood and metal, although you will need to use a primer base for metals.
Generate intrigue by blurring the lines
One of the most important things to consider when planning the design of your small garden is how you can trick the eye into thinking your space is bigger than it is. The easiest way to do this is by using tall plants to obscure a section of the garden. This will create the appearance that there is a lot more around the corner, making it appear larger. This technique not only makes your garden look more aesthetically pleasing, it can also make you feel as though you have your own secret hideaway even in the smallest of outdoor spaces. Place an object of interest behind your tall plants to increase the intrigue and draw the eye. If you can hide some comfy seating in this area, all the better!
Light it up
Outdoor lighting can be a perfect way to turn your small garden into a cosy retreat. Along with garden ornaments, lighting is one of the quickest ways to add personality to your outdoor area. Hang string lighting around your dining/seating area so you’re able to stay outside long after the sun goes down. And dot brightly coloured lanterns around the garden to draw attention to the different areas of your space while creating a truly magical setting.
Include an optical illusion
Mirrors are well known for bringing light into rooms and making them feel larger than they actually are – the same goes for using mirrors outside in your garden. A well-placed mirror that reflects green, leafy interest in your garden can create the optical illusion that your space goes on much further than it actually does. Window-like mirrors will give you a portal into another world – if you don’t have room for a massive mirror, a small round mirror can be just as effective at achieving this look.
We’ve spoken about planting and the more usual garden elements but what about looking outside the box for inspiration. By thinking about your outside space as an extension of your living area you can really add value to a small garden, and you’ll soon forget about its size. A tabled corner area dedicated to food prep with a shelf and a few hooks for your utensils, and you have your own open-air kitchen. Treat yourself to a little portable projector, grab a bedsheet and suddenly you have yourself a mini movie theatre. Or, why not go all out and build yourself a garden bar. With all the al-fresco entertaining we’re all hoping to do this summer it should be well worth the investment of time and money.
And there you have it, our round up of how you can quickly transform your small garden. We’d love to see pictures of your gardening projects and hear any of your top tips. Get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.