You don’t need a huge garden to enjoy growing plants, flowers, fruit and vegetables. Nor do you need acres of room to cook, eat and entertain outdoors. Whatever size your garden, a few simple tricks will help you make the most of the space and create the miniature oasis of your dreams.
What’s the main purpose of your garden?
Would you like your garden to be an extra living room with comfortable outdoor seating, atmospheric lights and a place to sit and relax? Or do you imagine yourself presiding over a sociable outdoor dining area, where you can bbq to your heart’s content and enjoy family meals and summer entertaining?
Green-fingered wizards may want to grow fruit and vegetables or create a tropical paradise of plants and flowers. High or low maintenance, once you’ve identified the main purpose for your outdoor space, zoning the areas and planning the layout will become much more obvious.
Space to grow
If you want to plant fruit or vegetables, you’ll need to think about growing space and natural light. A raised bed or two will give you a neat, clearly defined growing area and if you construct your bed with a wide lip, it will also work as a bench.
You’ll need at least four hours of good sunshine per day to grow most fruit and vegetables, so observe your garden and make a note of the areas that get the most sun. Growing vast trugs of produce may be a challenge, but with a little creativity, it’s certainly possible as we’ve explained in our article how to grow your own in a small garden.
If you need space-saving kit to keep things organised, Waltons 3’3x2 garden storage locker is a stylish way keep your tools tidy. There’s also a 6x4ft greenhouse, perfect for smaller plots or courtyards, to help you get a bumper crop of whatever you choose to grow.
Relaxing and entertaining
Small gardens often make the best spaces for outdoor entertaining – it’s easier to create mood and ambiance in a defined area.
Decide what sort of outdoor furniture you’d like and how much maintenance you’re prepared to do. Wooden furniture will need to be regularly maintained and preferably stored over the winter, whereas modern rattan sofas and metal require less attention. If space is really tight, foldable options can be stacked away in a small shed when not in use. Alternatively, dual purpose storage ideas like this weatherproof chest double up as a seat by adding a simple cushion. Painting all your wooden furniture the same colour will unify your scheme and prolong its life by protecting it from bad weather.
Outdoor rugs are the ideal way to give focus to an entertainment zone and create the feel of a garden “room”. Soft cushions provide a welcome hint of comfort and luxury. These accents are easily changed and allow you to “dress” your room in different ways – think coastal chic, Moroccan Riad, glamorous Bollywood, or elegant French courtyard.
Create a ‘kitchen’ corner with a bbq or pizza oven if you plan to eat outside often. If you have room, organise it so that you could erect a small gazebo over your grill – you don’t want the prospect of a fleeting shower to force you to cancel your party. A foldaway buffet table will serve as a drinks station or servery if you’re hosting a larger get-together.
Plan lighting for your garden to transform the space as evening falls. Solar lights are perfect for summer entertaining and don’t need to be hooked up to home electrics. Storm candles are another great option for smaller gardens; hang them from hooks to keep tables and floor space free.
Lush and green
If lush planting or herbaceous borders are your thing, choosing plants and trees for small gardens is a creative challenge you’ll relish. Draw a scale plan of your space to help you see how your ideas will look in a few years, once everything starts to reach its full size.
Plants and trees that are too big will overshadow your garden, block the sunlight and make everything feel damp and mossy. Here’s a helpful list of the 33 best trees for small gardens to get you started.
Don’t forget containers – they’re perfect for smaller gardens. Available in all shapes and sizes, you can choose contemporary or traditional styles to suit any scheme. Ideal for growing fruit, vegetables and salad, containers can be moved around the garden to make the most of the sun. It also makes moving tender plants into a small greenhouse over the winter easier, if necessary.
Get the wow factor
To get a real wow factor in a small garden, limit the number of materials you use and pull everything together with repeated use of a single colour. Add different textures in your hard landscaping – rough hewn sleepers, modern concrete, tactile brick, smooth stones – but stick to two or three and use them throughout the entire space.
Carefully organise your planting for appropriate scale and year-round interest. Small trees, plants, flowers and even vegetables will add the shape and colour that bring it to life. Introduce ‘props’ such as accent cushions, candles, rugs, furniture to finish dressing it for different occasions.
Finally, just like your home, your garden will look its best if you’ve included adequate storage for tools, ladders, bikes, sports kit and general clutter. Small sheds, storage lockers, potting sheds and greenhouses that have been designed for tiny gardens are the real secret to creating the outdoor space of your dreams.
Do you have any tips to share on tiny garden planning? If you do, we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch via our Facebook page.