In a recent fact-finding survey carried out by the Big Plant Nursery, 29% of customers said they had a small garden. This got us thinking about the different needs of a small garden compared to those of a mid-size or large space.
The benefits of a small garden are of course that they require less maintenance and therefore more time to spend relaxing or entertaining. Here are some things to consider if you have a smaller space to work with.
Design and Landscape
- In a smaller area, flow from the house through to the garden is essential.
- Practicality is import but you can add interest with layers
- Space efficient – small spaces can easily feel cluttered
- Lighting is key; it can make the space appear bigger, draw your eye to certain elements and keep you outside for longer in the evenings. Consider up-lighting under feature plants such as ferns and palms.
- Plants to soften often predominantly hard landscaping
- Simple, not busy, develop a theme (Mediterranean, tropical, cottage style)
- Features such as water or sculpture
- Use of walls for climbers, living walls
- Entertainment area – decorate with seating, cushions, BBQ, fire pits
- Create privacy by selecting trees that hide unwanted views – pleached trees are perfect for instant screening
In a smaller area, flow from the house through to the garden is essential.
Which plants to use?
Don’t be afraid of using big plants in a small space. Committing to a couple of larger specimens will really transform the space. If you only stick to small plants in a small garden, the result will have a bitty, disjointed feel with no impact. A few big out of scale plants will break up the area and create drama rather than having lines of narrow bedding.
- Structural – Architectural plants in a garden add height, structure, and drama and are particularly effective in smaller gardens for creating atmosphere.
- Drought tolerant – A good way to create a low-maintenance but visually pleasing garden is by introducing drought-tolerant plants. These plants look great set in gravel which helps keep the moisture in and the weeds down, saving more time.
- Shade tolerant
- Height but not width & depth
- Plants to suit the conditions, sunny areas etc
- Instant screening
Things to avoid
- Plants that consume too much width – think up rather than outward
- Over complicating with different themes
- Multiple materials – try to stick to one element, such a brick or wood
- Clutter – one main feature such as a water feature is enough
- Keep focal points in proportion; don’t overwhelm the garden