Direct Line magazine

Top 10 ideas for small gardens

Updated on: 14 June 2021

a garden with table and chairs, shrubs and steps

Plenty of us fancy ourselves as the next Monty Don or Charlie Dimmock, but what do you do if you only have a garden the size of a handkerchief?

The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to make the most of your outside space, however small it is. Here are our top tips to transform your tiny garden into a peaceful and welcoming retreat.

1. Break it up

If space allows, break your garden up into small sections, perhaps using trellis or an archway, so that it feels like you’re going from one area to another. You can also create raised beds in certain parts of your garden, to give the effect of there being lots of different spaces.

2. Install outside lighting

Clever use of lighting in the evenings can help make your garden seem much bigger. Using lights on different levels can work well, and if you're on a budget, LED lighting lasts for a long time and is cost-effective to use. Always use a professional electrician to help you install lighting.

3. Bring the inside out

When the weather is warmer, brighten up your garden with the use of colourful pillows on benches and outdoor rugs, giving it a Mediterranean feel.

4. Don’t stop at the garden

You don’t have to confine your green-fingered efforts to the back garden. Invest in some window boxes and plant colourful flowers which will brighten up your exteriors. Outside the kitchen window is an ideal place to plant your own herb garden, so you have fresh herbs to hand whenever you need them.

5. Use lots of different sized planters

Planting in lots of different sized pots and planters can give your garden a sense of perspective. Use all sorts of shapes and sizes and, where they're against walls, add trellis behind them so to support any flowering vines you might have planted.

6. Use mirrors

Mirrors are a really clever way to create the illusion of space in a small garden and can add light to a dark space too. Many garden mirrors are designed to look like windows and can look particularly good if you have a large wall at the end of your garden. Using lots of plants around the mirror can help it blend into the surroundings. You could even add a path leading up to your mirror, so that it looks as though there’s something beyond the end of your garden.

7. Be clever with pergolas

You can make your outside space feel like an extension of your home by putting in a freestanding pergola. Plant pretty climbers over it and you’ll have a lovely outdoor seating area. You could also drape some solar-powered fairy lights over the structure to make your garden feel a little bit more magical.

8. Make pathways

Making a pathway in your garden, however small your outside space is, can help it feel much bigger. This is especially useful if the path curves, as this gives visitors the sense they're walking round a larger space. Sounds crazy, but it’s proven to work.

9. Revamp your shed

If an ugly shed is taking up most of your garden, try and incorporate it into your design. Give it a lick of paint and then grow climbers up it. Or, if you want, get rid of it altogether and reclaim the space!

10. Hide unsightly bins

The only place many people have to store their bins is the back garden, but you can easily conceal them with a wooden or willow screen. Many of these have hinged panels so you can get easy access to your bins without having to move the whole screen.

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