How to Make a Garden Feel Bigger..

making the most of a small space

How to make a garden feel bigger than it actually is!

4 simple design methods to make the best use of your garden.

Time needed: 8 minutes.

Make a garden feel bigger

  1. Avoid creating ‘dead space’

    Dead space is unusable space around any object that can’t be used for anything else. Dead space reduces your garden space.

  2. Disguise the boundaries

    If you can see all the boundaries of garden; you’ll know exactly how big (or small) it really is.

  3. Create one area of the garden that captures your attention…

    by having a big ‘look at me instead’ feature your attention will focus on that rather than the small size of the garden

  4. Be bold

    Small spaces don’t need ‘small things’. Finding a way to fit large objects in small spaces helps disguise the ‘smallness’ of the space!

Now, we could now start by showing you images of gardens that look like this…


but at PlantPlots, we don’t really think these help especially if your garden looks something more like this…


What you really want and need to know is how… How and what decisions do you need to take to turn this rather small and uninspiring garden into something you love sitting out in!

So, what is wrong with this garden and what needs sorting?

Well a picture speaks a thousand words so;


Avoid creating dead space.

Dead space is space you can’t use; the area under a table is dead space. Dead space is also very visible and will emphasise the lack of space. So to make a garden feel bigger, the first step is to work out where any dead space is and minimise it!

In the above garden, the area around the little brick BBQ has to be kept clear of the flames, this can’t be used for anything else; it is dead space. This volume of unusable space can easily begin to use up a significant portion any small garden, unless you plan for it.


The box represents the area that can’t be used for anything else

The best way to minimise dead space, is to think about the area and the features you need in the garden in 3 dimensions. It’s a bit like 3D Tetris, you need to box together those features in such a way as to minimise any gaps – the gaps constitute dead space. If it all fits together neatly, you will pack more into the garden and it will be the most efficient use of space. Making the garden feel bigger.

Next, hide the boundaries and create something worthwhile to look at.

The problem with this small garden is that all your attention is drawn to the fences which only highlights how small the space is.

Making the fences more attractive is the first step – painting them a dark colour helps..

Draw your attention to something other than the fences. Here horizontal rails guide your view to the end – which is where a large mirror is placed.

This mirror will create a false end to the garden; reflecting the planting in front. Using bigger plants also helps; the boundaires are partially hidden.

So why has the garden been created like this?

Start with the fences, it is impossible to hide all the fences. Instead you need to control the view of the fencing. In this case by adding a mirror as a feature draws your attention where you want people to look. Then the fence line is broken up with plants that grow taller than the fence.

The planted area is sited to provide privacy from the overlooking windows.

Keep to a darker single colour palette for the hard landscaping (dark grey paving and a similar colour for the fencing). Darker colours are less noticeable behind the different shades of green leaves.

Use a limited colour palette for the plants. You want to be able to lose yourself in a ‘sea of greenery’ (even if it is only a little sea!). Your attention will focus on the different greens, leaf shapes and the plants moving; which means the fencing, neighbours and the small size become less noticeable.

Lastly, which can’t be captured in a picture – used scented plants. If you sit in any garden with your eyes closed surrounded by wonderful perfume – who cares how small it is!

So there you have it, designing gardens made a bit simpler (I hope).

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