Small Garden – Big Impact

In a small garden it is important to have year-round interest and interesting focal points, limiting the amount of materials used and how they make the space feel.

Here I have used scaffold boards horizontally that are quite thin so as not to make the space feel any smaller by “stretching” the eye and giving the impression the space is bigger?

Small Gardens - Scaffolding Boards

Although I wouldn’t normally condone the use of Astroturf, this was rescued from going into landfill so I decided to utilise it and help reduce the carbon footprint; giving one a feeling of unity throughout the whole design. Below it is a harsh concrete base which unfortunately, due to drains etc; had to be left. Gravel could have been used, or paving laid diagonally again making the space feel bigger.

Consider seating, and when/where you will get the sun? This is a basement apartment and gets sun mainly in the morning. The client preferred to have breakfast in the garden and the table/chairs are also in proportion to the size of the garden; placed within the planting to give a more relaxing feeling.

The idea is about tricking the eye and mind in a comforting way. Consider what is seen at eye level from windows? These are your first points of interest. You can see in the photos the pots placed on top of the wall add interest from inside the property, they also add height which is another important factor to think about.


Now for the planting…

The focal point /composition at the end of the garden makes the garden feel much larger. I have also added a mirror to enhance this effect.

  • Use big plants. Small plants can make a small space feel smaller.
  • Repeat plants throughout the space to make it feel more unified
  • Architectural plants will complement the strong architecture of the building
  • Plant evergreens for year-round interest
  • Use height and climbers. These will also help the garden feel more private
  • Use different leaf shapes and textures for more interest
  • Add colour, but I find it best to limit the colour pallet to two or three colours only. Green will always give a natural and calm feeling
  • Plant bulbs. Also consider seed head interest once flowers are over, such as alliums
  • Choose plants with long flowering periods
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