Designing Exciting Small Gardens

7th July 2019

Small gardens, tiny terraces and petite patios may need a little more thought and planning than the larger spaces, but even the smallest areas can be transformed.

They can be low maintenance and every small addition will have a dramatic effect. Whether you have a balcony or a backyard careful planning can create an enormous impact. If space is tight, make sure that what you have is working hard for you. A well-planned garden has a raised flower bed, a garden wall and some nice Rattan garden seating all rolled into one.

Greenery provides shade, privacy and interest up high, while the wall offers a handy ledge for lanterns plus practical built-in seating. Add planters or a trough under your window, this would be a great place to grow your own herbs, just open the window and take what you need.

To add to seating space the low wall surrounding your raised beds, as well as making your plants easier to maintain also creates extra places for friends to sit, adding colourful cushions for extra comfort. Create extra surface area by putting up some shelves, ideally they should be mounted on brick as a garden fence may not be strong enough to take the weight, adding lightweight pots and planters full of beautifully scented flowers.

A living wall appears to be a popular idea particularly if you have a small outdoor area as it will keep your floorspace clear. To create these, vertical garden plants are rooted into a structure that is attached to the wall. A range of herbaceous perennials, scented plants, seasonal bulbs, herbs, fruit and even some vegetables can be used.

Your local garden centre will I am sure be happy to advise on the most suitable plants. If you enjoy growing your own plants or vegetables it is possible to include a tall cabinet style greenhouse that could fit well into a small outdoor area and placed in a sunny area, you will have hours of pleasure and interest deciding what to grow.

Think of your exterior as you would your interior. White paint is often used to make the most of a small space, making the area appear lighter and brighter. White painted brickwork and white garden furniture creates a base for the addition of colourful plants and accessories.

A lawn or flower beds are not a necessity to create a garden. A small gravelled area or even a backyard can be transformed with the addition of lots of pots filled with everything from tiny plants, shrubs, roses and even vegetables. Finish off with some garden furniture and you can create the perfect spot to enjoy the fresh air.

Make use of a fence to add colour and greenery with climbing plants and trellises they are a great solution for small areas as they lift flowers and foliage up off the ground. Lighting is an important part of a small outdoor space. On a dark winter evening, your garden needs to look as ‘wow’ as it does at high noon in the summer. Light the steps, the sitting areas and paths. Light up any features you have such as water features or small shrubs and trees, and extend the use of your garden well into the night.

If you have a small internal courtyard or outside space leave the ‘wow’ factor to the plants. Look for tropical varieties hardy enough to withstand the British weather. Add instant drama with towering palms and feather leaved ferns, adding slate chippings to help retain moisture. A lot of us have what garden writers call a ‘small garden’, but maybe to us it is a ‘perfect garden’.

If it is big enough to sit out, big enough for a few plants, big enough to create a lovely view from inside the house then it isn’t small it is just right ! Consider privacy, as smaller gardens are often overlooked in some way. With carefully placed shrubs or a trellis along the top of a fence and consideration as to where to place your sitting area there is usually a corner of the garden that you can make completely private.

Over complicating a garden is an easy mistake to make. Choosing many different materials, creating lots of areas and lots of different types of plants will lead to a confused looking garden, whereas by choosing just three or four varieties of plants or flowers and having large clusters of them will look amazing and will be easier to look after.

A smart decking area can create a feeling of space, choose pale wood to boost the sense of space and by adding a modular sofa and chairs you will create a welcome outdoor space for relaxing or entertaining friends. Choosing outdoor furniture that folds or stacks when not in use is another great way to save on precious space.

Mix and match your colours for a bright looking garden Place objects of interest at the end of your garden and create an illusion that your space is bigger than it is. Choose white garden furniture and position towards the back of a paved area. Strategically place large shrubs to partially obstruct the view and add interest with plants at all heights and in all areas.

Make a small space attractive and create a contemporary look with strong landscaped lines. Create interesting interlocking zones with distinctive materials such as wood-stained decking, pale patio slabs and decorative stones or chippings. Then plant fill the spaces with structural greenery for a controlled finish that is easy to maintain.

For most people gardens can mainly be for sitting in so give plenty of thought to the furniture. Do you want to sit at a table or do you prefer to lounge on sofas? If you are lucky enough to have space for both think about where each should be placed - what time of day does each area get sun.

Seating is always a luxury investment for your garden. Not only do they look good and add to the design, but each time you sit out you’ll appreciate your investment. Rattan sofas and armchairs may seem like a lot of money but you will gain pleasure from them for many years to come - so it might be well worth considering.

Be inspired by formal gardens to bring organisation to a small area. Design a classic layout with a central lawn and surround with borders, for a garden that feels elegant and traditional. Use planting to draw the eye to the central element, line the borders with classic lavender and pink and purple foxgloves.

If you have children ensure you create an area especially for them. Build a playhouse, even a small one can be fun, blend it in with the garden perimeter. Fill with brightly coloured furniture and give them their own area to enable them to learn about growing their own flowers and vegetables.

Work on the view from inside the house and If your garden / outdoor area can be seen from there give consideration to winter planting as well as to summer planting. Add structure with box bushes or sturdy evergreen plants and add winter bulbs like crocus and tulips to provide a stunning burst of colour.

Small gardens and outdoor areas have lots of advantages, the biggest one is that they are wonderfully low maintenance. Whether you want to create an impressive balcony or back yard, squeeze in some garden furniture or just be surrounded by lots of flowers they are great spaces to be creative as even the smallest additions of sumptuous cushions or outdoor lighting will have a dramatic effect.

Even the ultimate alfresco relaxation, a hammock, can be squeezed into the smallest of areas. It will instantly transform your garden or patio into a ‘chill out’ zone. Make use of a fence to add colour and greenery. Climbing plants such as roses or clematis are a great solution for small gardens as they lift flowers and foliage off the ground.

A pretty fence will do a lot to detract attention from your tiny plot, after all if you or your friends are focusing on beautiful flowers no one is going to notice the dimensions of your garden. Even the tiniest of terraces can be transformed into something exciting, a planted terrace is a good solution combining elegance with low maintenance.

Simple paving of traditional stone will create a rustic look together with clever planting that will soften and provide privacy. Just add comfortable seating and you will create an ideal outside area many friends will be envious of.

Finally, step back and look at your garden / outdoor area with fresh eyes and then simplify and tidy. If the space feels overwhelming pick one thing that you most want to change, and enjoy the everchanging colours and scenery of your garden.

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