My Journal

Five tips for small garden design

Katie Rushworth image of her holding white plant

When we think of an English garden, our minds may wander to the sweeping tennis lawns and rambling rose beds of country manor houses – but in reality, a UK garden is usually a much more modest affair. As a gardener I’m really drawn to smaller gardens as they pose such a challenge in the design, and when you get it right the effect can really wow. A miniature space doesn’t have to mean your garden can’t pack a serious punch.

A small garden scene with good design throughout. Top five tips for small garden design by Katie Rushworth

Image credit: Keith Henderson

Show your small plot the love it deserves!

Play with levels
When floor space is limited, look at working upwards. I love the look of a living wall – a whole wall or just a section entirely planted with greenery, and roses look lovely trained up a trellis up a wall or around a door. Time and time again I will go to shelving units as a way of getting even more lively planting and accessories in – as well as reclaimed wood and railway sleepers there are specialist garden units, or a repurposed vintage metal shelf looks fab too. Free-standing glass mini greenhouse cabinets are a great idea for growing your own veg on a smaller scale, and they look super sophisticated too.

Use lighting
This doesn’t have to mean a costly electrics project – cheap solar powered fairy lights can be picked up all over the place and look great wound along a fence or draped through topiary. Miner’s lamps and paper lanterns add warmth and interest too, and when lights are hung higher up they can bring the illusion of more space. A small brazier will provide a great focal point for guests to gather and warm up as the evenings draw out, but be mindful of how much ground space they can take up!

Image: Ideal Home

Introduce a colour scheme
Blocks of colour help to break up the space, so don’t be afraid to go bold. A bright white is a great choice of base as it adds a light and airy dimension, so invest in a pot of outdoor emulsion to paint external walls (I like the look of pointing between the bricks left bare – so chic!). Fencing, accessories, fabrics and accents can be painted or purchased in your favourite colours to add interest and help to divide the space. I’ve also written an article on colour in garden design which is work checking out.

Planters under the kitchen window
If space really is at a premium, make the most of a windowsill or the wall below it by placing or mounting planters full of herbs, annuals or succulents. It’s a really great feeling to sprinkle your own home-grown herbs across a meal as the finishing touch, and you really don’t need lots of space to be able to grow your own. Plastic and wooden herb planters can be picked up for a song at most homeware stores – mediterranean herbs like oregano and basil prefer a sunnier spot, but rosemary, mint and thyme can all grow well enough in shade.

Hammock in a small garden. Tips for small garden design by Katie Rushworth

Image by Petr Přeučil from Pixabay

Hang a hammock or chair
We do sometimes get a bit of sun in the UK, and imagine how regal you’ll feel relaxing with a cold drink and a book in a hammock or hanging chair. You don’t need loads of space to include one of these in your garden design, as it can be packed away when not in use and when you’re ready to go, just sling the hammock wherever it can be securely fastened. Invest in a jazzy pattern and maybe even an outdoor cushion or two, pour yourself something refreshing, sit back and relax.

Are you blessed with a small-but-mighty garden? I’d love to see your pics! Feel free to share them with me over on Facebook or Twitter. Katie x