Textured foliages

Your small garden doesn't have to be boring!

Carla Jones's picture
Posted Jan 23rd, 2017
by Carla Jones

A small garden doesn’t have to be a patch of suffering lawn with a few old pots your mother gave you sitting on an unusable patio. By designing and planning your space carefully you can make the most of your small space, making it the perfect garden for you. Here are some helpful hints and tips to make your small garden feel like it has doubled in size... 

Unusable space - A filled in pond and ugly old potsUsable space - New decking for a bistro table

Dividing up areas to define usable spaces

By dividing up the space in a small garden you can define zones, making the space more usable for every day. Low hedging such as Buxus sempervirens, or Taxus baccata can be used extremely effectively in a small garden for several reasons. Firstly, low hedging divides the garden but keeps the space open and spacious. Secondly, the use of hedging acts as soft landscaping to stop the garden feeling hard and harsh.

Lighting creates an illusion of space at night

Clever use of lighting to give the illusion of space at night

Installing a basic lighting scheme in your garden can illuminate the smallest forgotten spaces to give the illusion that the boundaries go on beyond. Using spike lights to light up small trees such as Acer palmatum look stunning in a small garden as they not only light up the leaves and stems, but the light that bounces back also illuminates more of the garden. 

The use of angles are a simple way to create an illusion

When designing and planning your small garden, a useful tip is to use right angles to define the spaces between the planting and the patio. Using right angles throughout your small garden will not only elongate the garden by drawing the eye down but they will also push out the boundaries giving you a sense of having a wider garden than you thought.

Exploit the use of different foliage rather than cramming in colour

Using lots of different colours in a small garden may make the garden feel smaller as masses of colour can give a sense of chaos in such a small space. Restrain yourself, you will thank yourself for it! Use textured foliage and different shades of green to create a much more tranquil space that will make the garden feel open and pleasant to be in. Hints of a limited colour palette can work well, such as white and purple, or yellow and white.

Calm textured foliage

Finally, low maintenance is crucial in a small space

In a small garden where space is at a premium and you only have a small green waste bin from the Council, low maintenance is key. Unless you are big into your composting and you don’t mind using half your garden for green waste disposal, these few helpful hints can really help to minimise the maintenance you need to do.

1. When picking out your various textures of planting, choose mostly plants that are evergreen. Evergreen means that the plant will stay looking great all year round and will not drop its leaves, therefore you have less clearing and chopping back to do in Autumn/Winter.

2. If you intend on having a lawn space then go for a good quality artificial lawn. Yes, this goes completely against the basics of horticulture and many would never even contemplate it; however, in a small outdoor space where it takes longer to get the mower out than it does to cut it, an artificial lawn is the way forward. Today there are many amazing products out on the market where, quite frankly, you would struggle to tell the difference.

3. Composite decking. The beauty of composite decking over a normal softwood deck is that because it is completely non-porous unlike wood, it does not soak up grime and moisture. Although it is more costly, there will be no more yearly scrubbing and staining your decking ever again.

Artificial lawn - Can you tell the difference?


If you would like to discuss any aspect of designing and building your own garden or outdoor space, contact us now

About the author

Creative by nature, Carla delights in using her professional garden design skills to help customers achieve the garden of their dreams.