In setting up this Small Gardens website my plan is to offer useful ideas and practical advice for those gardening in small spaces, gardening in pots, or those who only have a balcony garden, tiny porch or patio.
Of course if you have a larger garden, hopefully you will find it valuable too – as, after all, a larger garden can be thought of as being made up of many small garden rooms…
Not Happy With Your Small Garden?
Do you often feel frustrated when you look at your small garden?
Not happy with the way it looks? You know it’s small, but are not sure how to go about making the most of such a small space ….
Do you wish you could grow your own veg, but are not sure how to get started with growing veg in pots?
Maybe you have thought about having a herb garden but feel you don’t have enough space?
Even if you have a small garden, or only a small space to have your containers – it does not mean you cannot garden successfully….
Whatever space you have – you can still garden in some way, shape or form – and enjoy the benefits of doing so too!
This is what this website, Small Gardens is all about – helping you to achieve a small garden that will not only be productive, but will be an achievement of which you’ll be proud.
What’s classed as a Small Garden?
I thought it might be useful to give an idea of what is meant by small gardens. Most professional gardeners seem to define a small garden as being anything less than 250 square metres – or another way to put it is – any space smaller than a tennis court…..
Benefits Of Small Gardens
Have you ever thought of the benefits of having a smaller garden?
You may yearn for a larger garden, but thinking about these benefits might make you feel better…
- Small gardens cost less to develop and maintain – less compost, fertilizers, plants etc
- Less time working, means more time to relax and enjoy your garden
- As small garden lawns are smaller, you’re more likely to maintain them correctly, and they’ll look better too!
- As your space is smaller, you’ll need less plants and are more likely to afford special varieties
- More affordable when you want to add accessories like arch ways, statues and water features
- Small gardens can be developed more quickly and
- You can experiment more, and change things that you find you don’t like more easily in a small garden
So, now you know that your small garden need not be a problem, and has benefits over a larger one, let’s take a look at what you can do to make the most of the space you’ve got….
I was fortunate to have been brought up in a home with a very large garden, actually on a farm, so it was a new experience for me when we moved to a home with a small garden. I then had to find out what worked, and what did not. Here are some tips I discovered.
Make Your Small Gardens Appear Larger
1. Divide Up Your Small Garden Space Into Rooms
Small gardens will appear to be much larger if they ared sub-divided with features like hedges, screens, walls, taller shrubs, and by using selected trees for small gardens.
This may seem counter intuitive, but it works, because when you divide up the space, you don’t see the whole garden at once – and therefore you’ll not notice it’s small size. As you walk around a garden which has been divided up in this way, you get to see a new area each time you come round one of these dividing barriers.
If your garden is really tiny, think of it as being one garden room, or a section from a larger garden. If you only have a patio then create a outdoor extension of your home with containers interspersed amoungst your garden furniture. If you have only a small space for gardening you could create a themed garden – for example maybe a Japanese garden, or you might focus on a water feature and create your garden around that.
In one garden I visited, the owner was desperate to remove taller shrubs and plants as she wanted to see her whole garden at once. When I explained this principle to her she admitted that a friend had recently been to visit, and commented on what a surprise she got as she walked behind the taller Rambling Rector rose, as it opened a whole new area of the garden that she did not know was there! As a result it gave the impression that her garden was far larger than it really is.
2. Focus on a Simple Small Garden Design
It’s so easy to think that, because you have only a small space to garden in, you need to fill that area with all your ideas, and include every plant your heart desires into it. This approach leads to a small garden that is too crowded and busy.
To achieve a pleasing result you need to focus on simple small garden design principles, with limited plantings and not too many colours being included. This is especially true when designing your flower beds and choosing the best small garden plants, and small shrubs that fit well into small gardens.
Taking an online small garden design course will help you learn the simple formula to shape and style your garden and so create that stunning garden you’ve always wanted.
3. Choose Plantings With Fewer Colours When Gardening In Small Spaces
Here in the UK as there is an enormous variety of colour amongst the flowering plants, I wanted to include them all into my tiny garden space. I love flowering plants and all their colours too, but the truth is that in a small space, I needed to choose only a few colours to focus on, to make my small garden appear larger and less busy!
To begin with, I wanted to have one of every plant and colour I saw, and so my garden had, what I call a salt and pepper effect – having only one of each variety of plant, made them not stand out – the resulting effect was not eye catching.
When I took the time to create a simple small garden plan that included fewer plants but with larger groupings of the same plants, and with fewer colours, the overall result was far better.
Top garden designers suggest that you choose 3 colours tfor your small garden design to be successful.
- Blue and white flowers give a feeling of distance and coolness.
- Red, yellow and orange colours make a striking statement, add warmth but can make the space seem smaller
- Pastel colours are said to reflect light more, and so are best for areas with low light intensity
4. Design A Small Garden
One mistake I made recently was to think of incorporating too many small plants – like alpines – thinking again that smaller plants were what I needed for my small garden. Instead, it had no overall impact and just looked too busy!
So I decided to introduce some bigger, and what I call architectural type plants – like Phormiums and Pittosporum tenuifolium A few of these plants provided height, architecture and impact. When gardening in a small space, the lesson here was that it is better to design a small garden and not one for small people!
5. Conceal Your Boundaries
Another trick you can use is to conceal your boundaries with climbing plants. This has two advantages – one, it enables you to add more plantings by using the vertical spaces on your boundaries and also, when covered, it makes your small garden appear larger because your eye does not have a place to focus on as being the end of a garden.
Useful plants to use for this would be climbing roses, clematis, or other climbers like Decumaria sinsensis, Schizophragma hydrangeoides, Euonymous fortune
You could also conceal a wall or your garden fencing by growing an espaliered fruit tree against it – good idea especially if you love fruit but only have little space in which to put one.
If you are not keen to cover your boundaries, you could conceal them with careful placement of the best shrubs for small gardens and small garden trees – in this way the focus is on the plantings and not the boundary……..
6. Make Your Borders Wider & Reduce Lawn Space
Yet another way we can trick the eye into perceiving that our garden is larger, is to increase the depth of borders and reduce the area that is put to lawn. With a deep border like this, you can have plantings at differing heights – shorter plants at the front, gradually gaining in height to the back of the border – include small trees which add interest above your eye level.
7. Consider Getting Rid of Your Lawn
This is one suggestion which I find hard to do as I like having lawn and especially love cutting the grass – it is my most favourite gardening task! However, I can see that sometimes a lawn can draw your eye to it and so emphasize the size of a smaller garden.
Though I am not a fan of gravel, I have seen many very appealing small garden layouts done tastefully with it. There is also the advantage of not having to maintain the lawn – for those who do not like that chore.
8. Choose Your Small Garden Plants Carefully
When you are gardening in small spaces, it is important to choose the plants that you use very carefully. Once you have made your plan, consider carefully each plant that you choose to use in it – each must be there for a good reason. Consider using plants and small trees that will add interest as the season changes as well as evergreen ones. Think of what plants will add colour and interest in each of the four seasons, so that your small garden always has something to give no matter what the season.
9. Vertical Gardening – Maximise That Vertical Space
If you have used all the horizontal space you have available with borders, you could consider trying vertical gardening and using any available vertical space to add another dimension to your small garden.
Some vertical gardening ideas you might like to try
- vertical trellis with attached pots
- add an archway at your entrance with cascading planting
- hanging baskets on boundaries, or from brackets attached to your house
10. Use Container Gardening For Adding Extra Plants
When the borders in my small garden are full, I look to garden in containers as a way to be able to grow a few more plants!
Also containers can add an extra dimension to your small garden. Gardening in containers has the extra benefits of being able to control the soil, nutrients and watering far more easily than you can with ground plantings.
If you have no space for a vegetable patch in your small garden, then you can still grow veg in pots using containers like vegetable planters and even ordinary pots and troughs you have spare. I get great satisfaction from planting my seeds at the end of Winter, protecting them till the frosts are over, and then finally harvesting courgettes, tomatoes, green beans, beetroot, onions, lettuce and swiss chard for the kitchen. These and other vegetables can all be grown in containers, or using an intensive planting system like the square foot gardening concept.
So, there are 10 ideas you can use to make the most of the space in your small garden.
Don’t think your small garden is a poor cousin to larger gardens. There are many benefits to small gardens – such as less time needed for maintenance and development, and more time for enjoyment. If you love to garden, like I do, then a small garden can be a perfect solution… you just need to learn how to garden in your small space to make the most of it.
For more ways to improve your garden, choose a topic from the ‘Categories’ section in the side bar to the right of this page