Small garden design
Small garden design issues have a larger impact than the same issues in a larger garden, simply because there is no space to hide. The key problem being that of fitting everything in, without it looking cluttered, squashed or muddled. It is just harder to hide ugly sheds, storage units or any ugly views.
It is easy for any small garden design to lose the battle between usable space and dead space. Dead space being the areas that are left over, that you can’t use, these take up valuable space, so the design needs to think how theses dead spaces appear.
Plants are used to fill dead spaces, if you can’t use them, you will not be making the garden smaller by using that area for plants – you would not be using it anyway!
Small gardens come in all shapes and sizes as well as having different garden environments. Each requires a different design solution. Modern gardens now tend to be smaller and are often awkward shapes, making designing them difficult. Maximising space in a small garden requires thinking much more in 3 dimensions, to make the most for the space you have.
What is a garden for?
Gardens are really good for us, helping reduce stress, relax, watch wildlife and soak up the sunshine. However many gardens don’t live up to the dreams of their owners, and often follow the same basic design layout – a central lawn with narrow garden borders around the edges. Gardens can be made to be so much more than simply a lawn with shrubs, but the principles of garden design can seem complex and hard to understand. Every piece of garden planning advice we provide aims to help you garden better.
Garden sizes have been shrinking for decades, the average size of a typical garden in London is little over ½ the size of a tennis court. The rest of the UK fares a little better, but is still on average only 12x16m in size. How you design this small space is key to making the most of the garden.
Gardens are not just outside rooms, gardens are where we interact with the nature and where nature interacts with us. Proper planning will ensure the garden design and planting benefits you, but hopefully it will also ensure the garden does no harm either.
is not the same as designing a garden, planning a garden involves understanding your needs and aspirations, designing a garden requires converting those aspirations and dreams into practical workable solutions. Good garden design in not about lots of hard landscaping changes or spending lots of money. It is about ensuring the layout of the garden works for you but also works within the environment your location throws at you.
All the design advice provided assumes 2 things, you are not an expert gardener and that you will be doing the work yourself with limited budgets.
Design advice for garden problems;
Making the most of the space depends on limiting the amount of dead space a garden creates, if you understand the basic design principles, designing any shape of garden is easier.
What sort of garden should it be
There is a garden for every space, a plant to use and a style to create, the trick is making sure all these design issues align. If they don’t it may look like the garden is amazing, but the reality may be that it takes a disproportionate amount of maintenance to keep that small space looking amazing.
Small garden spaces have specific problems unique to their size, but there are solutions to most of these garden design problems.
There seems to be a trend toward minimalism and contemporary gardens, especially in small spaces, the theory being, that if there are few plants, the gardens will be lower maintenance. Well this may be true, but often is not, nature will always drop stuff in your garden, so any design should plan for debris.
Lawns, kids and plants
How do you design a small garden that has enough space for children to play in but that is also a lovely place for adults to? Should a small garden have a lawn, will it be easy to look after, should you use artificial grass instead.
How can a small garden be interesting, after all it is usually surrounded by buildings, fences and maybe it is near a road so is noisy too. The best design advice in any small garden is to prioritise, what key elements should there be, and concentrate one getting those right.
Sheds and paths need thinking about too, as these will be dominant features in a small suburban garden, there are design tips and trick you can use to help disguise ugly features – garden mirrors being one of the best.
How you garden matters
All gardens are part of a wider ecosystem, even if the environment is a city garden or in the middle of a housing estate. Nature and wildlife connect gardens to each other via pollinators flying about, hedgehogs foraging from one garden to another, or seeds being transported over the fences by bird poop or the wind.
Consequently, what you do in your garden affects your neighbours and the interconnecting network of gardens has a large collective impact on the environment surrounding everyone.
(as I sit here watching the Wren hopping up my roses eating all the aphids!)
Nature is perfectly able to look after itself, the natural balances between prey and predator are all to easily disturbed by gardening more than you need to.
Being a better gardener is a vital part of the garden planning process, because if changes are made that ensure you do less garden maintenance because the natural world is doing it for you; it’s a win:win situation.