Small gardens can be as productive as larger ones, with clever use of space. If you’re growing vegetables, prioritize varieties that maximize space (e.g. cabbages and cauliflowers) and try interplanting fast-maturing crops like radishes and salad greens.
Evergreen shrubs and trees add structure and height to a small garden. Plant them with flowers and herbs to make it feel more welcoming.
Make the most of your space.
Many small garden ideas revolve around elevating the space, introducing steps and ledges to create a feeling of depth and perspective. This also makes room for extra furniture to make your garden a true retreat from the world. If you have a few square feet to spare, a simple wooden bench or sofa in weatherproof fabric will do the trick.
Similarly, adding layers in the planting will make a small garden look bigger and more bountiful. Try growing climbers on fences and walls, fix baskets full of trailing plants to windows or use trellis planters on the ground.
If you have a lot of shade, consider replacing your grass with edibles like chard and kale (which grow quickly), or with shade-tolerant salad leaves and berries. These will add nutrition to your diet and a beautiful aesthetic to the garden, not to mention masking nearby noise and pollution. The movement and sound of water features also have a calming effect.
Plant edibles and ornamentals together.
Aim for a mix of ornamentals and edibles to make the most of your space. This ‘foodscaping’ is a great way to grow plants you love to look at and eat, as well as reduce your grocery bill! Try a combination of fast-growing vegetables like salad leaves and chillies with flowers such as nasturtiums and petunias.
Remember that some plants require full sun and others shade, so plan accordingly. Choosing vegetables that thrive in the shade like carrots, beetroot and broccoli will allow you to grow more in the same area. Similarly, growing cucumbers on a trellis will help them ripen earlier.
Structural features in your garden such as obelisks (bare or clothed in climbers) and arches will encourage the eye to draw upwards, making your space feel bigger. Planting a mix of scented herbs such as parsley, basil and chives will also enhance the sense of smell when eating outdoors. This will be especially appreciated by children!
Try a more minimalist approach.
The best minimalist gardens work to complement geometry and garden structures – rather than detract from them. Regular pruning, with a hand pruner or telescopic shears, keeps plants neat and tidy, and enhances the clean lines of the scheme.
Using wall planting, trellis and fences to grow climbers adds interest and drama to a small garden without making it feel overcrowded. Climbers like clematis, Lonicera (honeysuckle) and jasmine add height and provide plenty of interest with their flower colours and foliage tones that change throughout the year.
Use a weed whipper to keep paths and garden edges clear of weeds, which could distract from the beauty of a minimalist garden. Keeping furniture minimal is important too, but consider adding some seating on which to relax or a seat that floats in a water feature. It’s a great way to enjoy your garden in the summer and creates a relaxing focal point. Add bird boxes, feeding stations and roosting pouches to attract garden wildlife and make your minimalist garden even more attractive.
Keep it simple.
Having too much stuff in the garden can look messy and cramped. It can also lead to plant competition for light and water, and a dense canopy of plants is more susceptible to disease. A few well-chosen and well-placed plants can make a bigger impact than a crowded planting scheme.
Limiting the palette of materials used in a small garden is a good way to give it cohesion. Choosing a light-coloured paving, like the pale ‘Sun Grande’ from Pavestone ‘Discovery’ porcelain range or the sandy ‘Apollo’ textured paving, will make your garden feel larger and more open than dark options.
Encourage the eye to wander up with obelisks (bare or clothed in climbers), arches and pergolas. These structures will help the eye to see the space as bigger, and will help your planting to blend into the skyline. Give the veggies a boost with vertical supports too: cucumbers will grow longer and straighter on a wire fence and tomatoes are naturally more compact if they’re grown up a trellis.