Design and Planting tips for Small Gardens

Design and Planting tips for Small Gardens

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.
  • Evergreen
  • 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