Landscaping a Small Garden

garden makeover ideas - patio with interlocking circular design

In this article we’re looking at landscaping for small gardens, and how, with clever design and craftsmanship, even the tiniest space can feel as light and airy as a country estate.

The first half of 2020 has taught all of us the value of outdoor space, no matter what size it may be. Throughout Surrey, people are turning balconies into verdant vistas and creating comfortable havens in their back yards.

attractive small garden with seating

If you are lucky enough to have a large garden it’s easy to bring your ideas to fruition. But what if your garden is quite small? Over the years, Manor Landscapes have learned a lot about landscaping for small gardens. Here are our top tips.

  • Use all three dimensions of your garden, length, width and height.
  • Avoid placing all of the best features around the edges – use the middle of the garden too!
  • Go large! Tiny features in a small space can make the whole thing look like a cluttered dolly’s garden.
  • Value your privacy – no-one wants an audience when they are relaxing
  • Be bold. Confident splashes of colour can give a sense of space as can artwork
  • Use shape to deceive the eye

Using height in a small garden

It’s tempting when you have a small garden to keep all of the features small for fear of overwhelming the space. In fact the opposite is true. A narrow planted bed with tall plants with large leaves can help to blur the boundaries. If you can’t see the wall or the fence, it feels as though it’s not there and that you are on the edge of a vast plantation.

A favourite design trick of mine is to use pleached trees around a small garden. These are look like a hedge on stilts. They take up very little space in the actual garden yet they are big, bold and encourage you to look to the sky instead of at the boundary wall.

Use space wisely

Nearly every time I’m called to quote for a garden makeover, I’m met by a roughly rectangular space with a lawn in the middle and bordered by shrubs and planting beds. It’s a logical thing to do but not particularly imaginative.

In a small garden, a lawn is rarely practical. Grass doesn’t grow well in a shaded space and quite honestly the labour involved in maintaining a tiny lawn isn’t reflected in the benefits it offers. So why not use the centre of the garden for something more exciting? A water feature, a pergola, some interesting paving or an all-weather deck with a holiday-like feel to it.

Create a “destination” in your garden such as a beautiful seating area or an outdoor kitchen. Then Plan the journey from your door to your relaxation space with care. It may only be a matter of a few paces, but imagine if those few steps involved brushing past scented plants, stopping to watch a bumblebee at work, or plucking a ripe strawberry from a hanging basket. Suddenly your tiny garden becomes a luxurious haven.

Value your privacy

Funnily enough, a garden feels smaller if you don’t feel confident to spread out in it. You could have an acre of land but if you are overlooked by neighbours it can feel like a prison cell.

Clever landscaping can make a small space feel safe and welcoming. Why not consider a well-made pergola draped with scented climbing plants and adorned with lighting for evening use?

Position your seating area so that you can’t see your neighbours’ windows – that way they won’t be able to see you either. And then use trees, vertical screening, a parasol or a garden sail to make a truly private space for yourself.

Design tricks to make space appear larger

living green wall to make more of the space in a small garden

Going back to that typical garden with plants etc pushed to the perimeters. Having all of the emphasis on the boundary lines reminds your brain that you are in a finite space.

But, using different shapes within the garden plan actually tricks the eye into believing the space is larger.

Instead of tracing the shape of the boundary with your paving, decking, or borders; be a rebel. Using diamond shapes or circles gives the impression that the borders have been pushed outwards. To make a garden seem longer, use rectangular pavers and angle them with the long edge leading away from the house. To make the garden seem wider, have the long edge parallel to the house. For longer AND wider, experiment on a piece of paper with zig-zags and offset shapes.

Invest in good garden design

As much fun as it is to try to design your own garden layout, the expert eyes of a garden designer or landscaper will open up a wealth of possibilities for your small garden. Landscaping professionals have a feel for which materials and layouts will best suit your property and your lifestyle. And more they will have industry contacts who offer far more exciting landscaping products than your local DIY store.

A 3D computer-generated design will help you to visualise your finished small garden before you start working on it. For best results, hire a professional landscaper to build your new garden. Although YouTube videos make a DIY garden seem like a possibility, in a small space, little mistakes look like giant bloopers and they will spoil your garden experience. Far better to engage an expert who can achieve the high quality finish that your outdoor deserves.

Finding a landscaper in Surrey

Manor Landscapes have been building stylish gardens in Surrey for over three decades and have a solid reputation for reliability, honesty and craftsmanship. We have great relationships with some of Surrey’s best garden designers and can organise the whole design and build process for you.

Also, for your peace of mind, Manor Landscapes are members of the Association for Professional Landscapers APL. An organisation that strives to improve the standards of the UK landscape industry. Being accepted into the APL means passing a rigorous business inspection every year. Only the best landscapers are invited to join.

Discover more about the APL

Contact Manor Landscapes for help landscaping your small garden

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