How to Design a Small Garden

How to Design a Small Garden

How to Design a Small Garden

At some point in life, everyone envisions a dream house. The vision varies from person to person, except for a few constants that remain part of every dream house. A garden is one of those constants. However, it is when we finally find our own home, we realise it may not be big enough to contain all our dreams.

Here we believe that you can always include parts of your dream no matter how small your home is. While you may not have a massive garden with flowers from every part of the world, you can create a smaller version of it. A version that is just as beautiful as you imagined. Click here if you’d like Claire Davies to professionally design your garden.

Smaller Size Isn’t Always a Downside

If designed properly, a small outdoor space can look just as gorgeous as any grand garden. As a matter of fact, there are many reasons smaller gardens are even better than bigger ones for some people. For instance, if you don’t have the time or budget for a huge garden, a smaller one is definitely more desirable. It doesn’t require excessive time or money for upkeep.

It happens every so often that we have to tell a homeowner to consider downsizing their garden because they are unable to manage and maintain a larger one. Most people have a busy lifestyle, and your garden won’t take that as an excuse. Every plant, every herb requires proper care and attention. If you don’t have enough time to tend to their needs, your garden, regardless of its size, won’t flourish the way you want it to.

Many experts believe that larger outdoor spaces are much more challenging because you need to be more space conscious. Due to the larger area, you need to leave more empty spaces to avoid a cluttered look. It sounds strange but it is true. A large garden can easily look cluttered if there isn’t a proper balance of empty and occupied spaces. A smaller one, on the other hand, has the ability to visually absorb a dense planting scheme.

However, challenges are also when there is a lack of space. You cannot stuff it up with every item you like at Wayfair. You need to be careful about the quantity before you focus on placement. Planning and designing is extremely important. You need to balance the practical and aesthetic aspects.

Start with Knowing What You Want

The garden you dreamt of may not be possible with the space you have to work with. It is why the first step towards designing a garden is to throw away all the previous ideas of what you want. It is time to reimagine your dream garden with the real life constraints in mind.

Reimagine the Feel

By feel, We mean the ambiance and the aura combined. Think of whether your ideal garden is a place of activity or a place of relaxation. You can make it feel like a private space that offers solitary retreat or a place where you can socialise. We love it when you can strike a perfect balance there.

It won’t be wrong to say that the feel is essentially created by the function of your garden. It helps to be specific about the function and the purpose.

Play with Shapes

For starters, we can break down any garden in three main areas: the lawn, the patio, and the plants. Shapes matter when it comes to patio and lawn. Geometric shapes such as round and square work better than lines. A combination of these shapes creates a pathway your eyes can follow which eventually turns into a static scene into a visual story.

For a small garden, shapes are even more important because they break the monotony created by the lack of space. If you can soak the whole scene in, it would emphasise the small size. Shapes make your eyes take different turns with every soft curve and every sharp edge before you can grasp it all. You can’t see it all from one vantage and you can’t tell where it ends. Your mind perceives the space to be larger than it is.

Once you have decided the shape and proportion of the patio and lawn, the remaining boundary is where you put the plants. While, plants may seem like the most important part of a garden, but they can often make a small garden look smaller.

It Isn’t Just Plants

A common mistake people make when they design their garden is that they think only of plants, and not of people. They include too many plants and there remains little space for anything or anyone else. It takes so much from the ambiance. It is as if you forget to breathe life into the space.

That’s primarily why you should envision the space without all the plants. There is one golden rule experts follow when it comes to planting for small gardens:

Lush but limited.

Make a list of all the plants you want in the garden. Now eliminate half the list based on which ones you can do without. Even if you’re only working with five plants, it’s perfect. Trust us; it is better to have large clusters of a small variety than smaller clusters of different plants. Excess of diversity can easily make your garden look clustered and unorganised.

If you follow this rule, you will see more structure in your small garden. Also, this limits the maintenance cost and time.

Choose Your Plants

Making a choice by double elimination is easier said than done.

You want your garden to look great all year round. This doesn’t mean perennials are your only options. Again, it is all about the perfect balance.

You don’t want plants that grow outrageously big or grow too fast. They can easily make your small garden look unkempt and unstructured. Here are some great options to consider:

  1. There is a saying, focus on a garden that looks good in winter, and it will take care of itself in summer. Winter plants such as tulips and crocus look beautiful throughout winter. They add warmth to the space.
  2. Complement winter buds with evergreens such as box bushes that will keep your garden green all year round.
  3. When choosing summer plants, focus on ones that stay for longer. Lavender is a beautiful option that stays for a while.
  4. If you are thinking of roses, go for it. Rose bushes look better in a smaller garden. They add presence as well as scent. Add some honeysuckle, and you have a happy summer garden right there.
  5. Since you don’t have a lot of ground space, it is best to utilise the vertical space as well. Go for evergreen climbers such as Trachelospermum jasminoides. They will provide a perfect background all year round.

Now, this brings us to our next point.

Think Vertically

This one may sound clichéd, but it is essentially one of the best small garden design tips you will ever find. The reason why people rave about ‘going vertical’ is because it actually works.

Your garden isn’t just about the ground. In fact, if you focus only on the ground, you will end up with a space that looks flat and dull. You need to create a rhythm with highs and lows. And since there isn’t much of a low to work with, get creative with the height. Don’t limit your creativity to the walls and windows. Think higher.

  1. If you have a gazebo, you can hang small herb pots on its roof. Even porch ceilings are great for hanging your baby plants.
  2. Window shutters and window boxes are also great places to utilise for plants. You can place small pots on horizontal shutters. Succulents work great in such settings.
  3. You don’t have to limit walls for climbers. You can place vertical planters near the walls.
  4. When planting vertically, make sure the plants placed higher are the ones that need more sun. The ones planted below them must be the ones that can grow in the shade.

Vertical planting ideas can work wonders, and they are best for herbs and succulents. However, don’t overdo it. Do not cover every corner of the wall and door as it can make the whole garden seem like one huge green mess.

Consider Adding a Small Greenhouse

The idea may seem absurd, but this really is the best way to pack in some of your favourite plants in one space. Search for old cabinet-style garden shelves and furniture where you can display your potted collection. This is a great idea for folks who have very little space to work with but would still like to get creative.

Alternatively, you can also consider adding shelves to your garden. Mount them up on a brick wall as your garden fence definitely won’t be able to handle the extra weight. You can also go the DIY route and work with wooden planks and pieces of old furniture. You can also pick up iron brackets from a home improvement store nearby.

Let’s Talk About Lighting

Light is a very important aspect of designing. Small spaces need adequate lighting because a brighter space would naturally seem bigger. Lack of lighting can easily make the space seem narrower. It is one of the reasons that we don’t recommend dense trees for small gardens. Anything that blocks natural light is something you should stay away from.

When it comes to lighting, there is one main goal. Your garden should look just as gorgeous on a winter evening, as it does on a summer noon.

That being said, you need to be very careful about the lighting fixtures you choose and where you place them.

  1. Once again, anything that hangs vertically is much better than anything that is mounted on the wall.
  2. If you want to place wall mounted lights, make sure the light is projected at downwards angle.
  3. With hanging lights, you need to create a balance with recessed floor fixtures. Place them near bushes if possible. If you have a deck, then recessed deck lights are almost essential.
  4. Huge lamps aren’t great for small gardens – but if you really like them, place one near the sitting area on the patio.
  5. Don’t overlook the outdoor lighting. The light that comes from the outside can provide beautiful illumination.

Remember, if there is something magicians and scientists agree upon it’s that light can create the best illusions. With enough lighting, you can create the illusion of space. And you can further broaden that illusion by carefully placing garden mirrors. Place them in a way that they reflect light to areas that do not get enough natural light.

It is all about how much light is reflected across the garden. Colours play a key role in improving light reflection in any area. That brings us to the point.

Paint It Pretty

For small spaces, colours play a big role.

A garden generally reminds us of bright and happy colours, but too much of bright colours will take away the element of tranquillity. If you have colourful blossoms throughout the year, you don’t have to introduce too many hues in terms of paint.

Here’s a nice rule to remember: the rule of threes. There shouldn’t be more than three main colours. For small spaces, we like to divide it in the colour of walls, the colours of doors and windows, and the colour of pots and vases.

For large gardens, bright coloured walls might work but they are an absolute faux paus for small garden. The closer your walls are to white, they more they will reflect the light. If you don’t want it to be light, then go for muted and earthy tones instead of something bright. A terracotta wall is a good option. You can add a brick like texture to further enhance the aesthetics. However, you will have to be careful with the lighting as it might make the area seem too dark after the sunset.

Another advantage of going lighter on the walls is that you can complement it with brighter windows and doors. The colour of your doors and windows must be able to serve as a flattering background to the flowers in your garden. With terracotta walls, you can go with colourful pots and containers.

The rule of three applies to almost everything in your garden. From flooring to lighting, do not go for more than three different varieties.

If the overall look of your garden still seems dull afterwards, add an extra pop of colour with bright flowers and tiny furniture. At times, being quirky can really pay off.

What About Privacy

There is one more reason to love smaller gardens. For some reason, they feel more private. They are perfect when you want a garden that can serve as your peaceful place of solitude.

However, the walls and boundaries are too close together. If you don’t cover the walls and fences well enough, any passer-by would easily take a peek. It is a good idea to place tall hedges along the outer wall of your garden. If that isn’t possible for any practical reason, put a fence and cover it with evergreen climbers. You can even plant trees in the corners to block the view from the outside.

Personally, we don’t like the idea of completely obstructing the view of your garden from outside the house. There should be at least one window offering a great view of the place. However, some people want it to be hidden from people inside the house as well. If you are one of those people, you can opt for taller plants such as sunflowers in front of the windows,

Furniture for Your Small Garden

Now that you have your perfect small garden, do not overstuff it with bulky furniture. Keep it minimal. A small round lawn table with no more than four chairs – that’s about perfect. Two benches facing each other is also a space-efficient idea for your small garden. Couches or sofas would just seem out of place on a small patio.

Go for white or light coloured furniture instead of dark coloured. White is your best bet, but you can also go for a colour that is closer to the colours of the doors and windows. Matching furniture to the pots wouldn’t look as aesthetically pleasing. While wood looks the most elegant in any garden, it isn’t practical if the space isn’t covered. It is prone to water damage. Same goes for iron and most metals.

If you are too cramped on space, you can also consider foldable garden furniture. It is usually made up of plastic, but you can find the wooden variety as well. You can fold it and place it in a corner when you aren’t using it.

With this, we end our guide on how to design a small garden. We hope you found all of the practical and useful information that you were looking for. If you have any more questions reading small garden spaces, feel free to get in touch with us.

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