Small garden ideas to revitalise your outdoor space

When it comes to small garden ideas, limited space needn’t be a cap to originality and comfort. While small gardens, terraces, decking and patios undoubtedly come with their own set of design challenges, even the most economical of plots can be reworked into impactful and elegant outdoor havens. Think small but perfectly formed gardens.

Whether you’re looking to transform an inauspicious roof space or balcony garden into a stylish urban garden, create the ideal alfresco dining area complete with dramatic lighting or go all out with quirky features and accessories, we’ve selected a variety of our favourite design ideas to inspire.

Don’t forget, a small garden can work in your favour – they are easier to maintain and, with some cute lighting solutions and soft furnishings, will function as cosy enclaves akin to outdoor living rooms. A patio design can work really well in a small garden space.

Mix your media

Wood and concrete garden small garden ideas Annaick Guitteny

Image credit: Annaick Guitteny

Make a small space attractive and ensure a crisp contemporary look with strong landscaped lines. Create interesting interlocking zones with distinctive materials, such as woodstained decking, pale patio slabs and decorative stones or chippings. Then plant up to let lush foliage burst through, filling the space with structural greenery for a controlled finish that’s easy to maintain.

Get the look
Buy now: similar decking, Wickes
Garden design: Lucy Willcox

Simplify with symmetry

Symmetrical garden small garden ideas Annaick Guitteny

Image credit: Annaick Guitteny

Be inspired by formal gardens to bring organisation to a small space. Design a classic layout with a central lawn and symmetrical borders for a garden that feels elegant and formal, spacious and organised. Use planting to draw the eye to a central element, such as the brick port-hole window shown here. Line brick paths with classic lavender and the pink and purple spires of foxglove. Here, trained plane trees and lollipop standards add the final flourish.

Get the look
Buy now: similar garden furniture, B&Q
Garden design: Julian Dowle

Revive an underused space

Small side garden small garden ideas Matthew Williams

Image credit: Matthew Williams

Even the smallest of areas can be turned into a decorative outdoor space. Enhance yours with a run of stepped concrete slabs and use a narrow rustic-style table or bench to create a central focal point. Keep the look chic and low-maintenance with shingle, clipped topiary and flowering plants in orange and yellow. Add elegance with aluminium and stone planters and carefully chosen pieces, such as the oversized lantern and unusual bird sculptures.

Focus on furniture

Garden with white bench at far end small garden ideas Annaick Guitteny

Image credit: Annaick Guitteny

Place objects of interest at the end of your garden and create the illusion that your space is bigger than it is. Choose white garden furniture and position it towards the back of a paved area. Play hide and seek by strategically planting large shrubs to partially obstruct the view; your mind will think there is more beyond to see. Add interest with plants at all heights and in all areas – with climbers and ramblers, evergreen shrubs, sculptural grasses and ground cover, all enlivened by colour-heavy cottage-garden favourites such as foxglove and delphinium.

Get the look
Buy now:
similar plants, Wyevale Garden Centre

Go tropical

Tropical garden small garden ideas James Merrell

Image credit: James Merrell

When you have a small internal courtyard or outside space, leave the wow factor to the plants. Look for tropical varieties hardy enough to withstand the vagaries of the British weather and plant up your own jungle oasis. Add instant drama with towering palms, strappy phormium and cordyline and feather-leaved tree ferns like dicksonia. Be aware that some may need a bit of protection over the winter and add slate chippings to help retain moisture in the summer and make maintenance easier.

Aim high

Tall hedge small garden ideas James Merrell

Image credit: James Merrell

Turn a small courtyard into a lush habitat with a tactile and towering living wall. Plant up a natural focal point for a super contemporary way to add interest while keeping much-needed floor space clear for patio slabs and super-sociable seating. Balance the domineering wall with a trio of large pots with small fruit trees and bedding plants.

Get the look
Buy now: similar garden furniture, B&Q
Garden design: Randle Siddeley

Try chalet chic

Decked chalet small garden ideas Mark Luscombe-Whyte

Image credit: Mark Luscombe-Whyte

Create a smart decked area with the look of a chalet balcony. Choose pale wood to boost the sense of space and furnish for a chic outdoor living room feel. Position a teak modular sofa centrally and make the space social with complementary Adirondack-style chairs. Connect with nature and frame the balcony with sculptured evergreens in organic box planters.

Get the look
Buy now: garden chair, Wayfair
Garden design: Lucy Willcox

Make room for little ones

Garden children's hut small garden ideas Annaick Guitteny

Image credit: Annaick Guitteny

Come up with an ingenious small space that will appeal to both the design conscious and the fun conscious. Build a playhouse that blends seamlessly with the garden perimeter – here, contemporary linear fencing. Finish off the camouflage effect with a sedum roof so the little house blends perfectly into its environment. Store brightly coloured furniture inside so it’s easy to take out for play time and return again when not in use.

Get the look
Buy now: similar playhouse, B&Q

Build a cool cabana

Garden bench with canopy small garden ideas Chris Everard

Image credit: Chris Everard

Create a spot of shade in your small garden with a homemade sun lounger – a few square feet, budget materials and your imagination are all you need. Take two branches, two pallets, and a fabric offcut and assemble them to create a bohemian lounger for two. Make it comfortable and inviting with a bolster in funky geometric fabric. If your garden is dominated by the overhang of a tree, angle the fabric so that it can also act as a canopy, protecting the area below.

Get the look
Buy now: similar fabric, Etsy

Trick the eye

Patio with mirror small garden ideas David Still

Image credit: David Still

With space at a premium in city areas, create an illusion of space with a contemporary mirror panel. Use it to visually double the amount of space you have and increase light levels in darker corners. Choose long sheet mirror to keep the look urban and complement with contemporary linear fencing. Enhance the sense of privacy with ornamental grasses, potted evergreens and climbing plants.

Get the look
Buy now: similar fabric, Etsy

Rethink seating

Fold-up-chairs-small-garden-ideas-Simon-Bevan

Image credit: Simon Bevan

Choosing outdoor furniture that folds or stacks when not in use is a great way to save on precious space in a compact garden.

Get the look
Buy now: similar garden furniture, Homebase
Buy now: similar outdoor cushions, Habitat

Perfect your look

Patio-with-wooden-furniture-small-garden-ideas-Robert-Sanderson

Image credit: Robert Sanderson

Create an outdoor living area for the summer months. Even if you have a small plot with not much natural greenery, you can create the look of a colourful garden with flower-filled pots and planters. Just like indoors, opting for neutral walls and flooring can make a small garden feel lighter and brighter.

Get the look
Buy now: similar garden set, Wayfair
Buy now: similar garden parasol, John Lewis

Stay in the shade

Shaded-seating-area-small-garden-ideas-Darren-Chung

Image credit: Darren Chung

We love this decked garden with an alfresco dining area, which comes complete with shaded seating space and barbecue. Add a bistro dining set for the perfect finishing touch. Trailing flowers and potted plants give it a cosy feel, while the steps leading up to the second level add to the illusion of space.

Get the look
Buy now: similar bistro dining set, Tesco

Pretty up with soft furnishings

Colourful-cushions-small-garden-ideas-Simon-Bevan

Image credit: Simon Bevan

Urban gardens require careful planning if you’re going to make to most of a cosy corner. A garden bench is a practical and stylish way to make an impact – if you don’t mind relinquishing some precious floor space – and will be perfect for lounging should the sun make an appearance this summer! Choose a streamlined modern design and give it a colourful makeover with exotic cushions.

Get the look
Buy now: similar garden bench, Homebase
Buy now: similar cushions, Marks and Spencer

Play with colour

Colourful-garden-table-small-garden-ideas-Simon-Whitmore

Image credit: Simon Whitmore

Us Brits love to get out in the garden, but even if your outdoor space is super-small, there’s no reason why you can’t transform it into a vibrant alfresco dining area. Choose a small round table and chairs and a large parasol. Dress the table with colourful pressed glass tableware to brighten up a sheltered spot.

Get the look
Buy now: similar table and chairs, John Lewis

Dare to do something different

Outdoor-bath-small-garden-ideas--Simon-Bevan

Image credit: Simon Bevan

Transform your small garden into a little piece of paradise. Be honest, who hasn’t fantasised about taking a bath outside – sinking into a luxe tub and soaking up the surroundings? Mix chrome and brass for an eclectic touch.

Get the look
Buy now:
Bateau bath, Brissi
Buy now: parasol, Southsea Deckchairs

We hope our small garden ideas have given you inspiration for your plot. Which will you be trying?

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