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 impacftul 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.
Using space intelligently is the key to making a small garden work; seats that double up as storage, wall-mounted flower pots or herb planters and even folding furniture will all help free up precious square-footage. Likewise, mirrors designed specifically for outdoor use will go even further, creating the illusion of space where there simply isn’t any. Look for small-scale garden buildings, such as gazebos and arbours, which can bring shelter and structure without needing lots of space.
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.
Remember, solar-powered lights and lanterns are the safest and the most long-lasting option. If you have the room, wood-burning fire pits and bowls will heighten atmosphere as well as give out heat when the night’s eventually draw in. Attractive planters and ornaments will spruce up decking or patios and you can even opt for a more natural aesthetic – we love the idea of adding a zinc bathtub for the ultimate in rural charm. Remember, sometimes a limited set of parameters can be a boon for ingenuity and the same holds true here. Be creative!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wyevale Garden Centre
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Made In Design
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.
Even if space is limited you can still achieve the style of garden you choose, whether country, modern or traditional. The terracotta tiles on this sunny roof terrace garden give it a distinctive Spanish feel and the smart metal outdoor furniture keeps it up to date.
Urban gardens require careful planning if you’re going to make the most of a small space. For a sophisticated seating area outside, choose well designed garden furniture that will make a style statement, and treat the space like a room, with comfortable cushions and throws, to make it feel just as welcoming as a living room.
The wooden decking in this sunken garden appears to continue from the floors to the walls, making the space feel secluded and enclosed from the outside world. Creating an almost outdoor living room here, the furniture and rug enhance the cosy theme.
A tiny balcony can be quickly turned into a private oasis. Unfussy furniture and plump cushions give a cosy yet stylish feel to this
outdoor living space, while a palette of chocolate, green and sage blends well with the surroundings to give a chic, sophisticated look.
Similar outdoor furniture
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.
Similar table and chairs
Make a small garden feel larger with a decorative mirror in the shape of a window – this snazzy example had us fooled! Paint the wall behind it a lush green to blend in with the plants, and blur the boundaries of the small space. Add a functional, plastic table to use for entertaining.
Similar table and mirror
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.
Similar Bistro dining set
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.
Similar garden bench
Marks and Spencer.
If your outdoor area is a decked patio, spruce it up with some well chosen potted plants and colourful blooms. Simple furniture is perfect for creating a rustic feel to your space and won’t distract from your gardening efforts! Complete the look with French doors leading out onto the garden to create a seamless flow between inside and out.
There’s no hiding a small front garden so keep it in check by adding some simple and elegant flourishes. Arranging a selection of planters around the front door is a great way to ensure maximum impact with minimum effort and upkeep. And if you’re really keen to impress guests at your front door, a simple trellis above the door will add a welcome pop of country-style charm.
As the sun sets and the evening draws in, a portable wood-burning fire bowl will provide just the warmth you need to allow you to enjoy your garden for longer. Many versatile designs double as outdoor coffee tables, too, and can be left out all year round.
Marks & Spencer
Have our garden ideas inspired you to update your plot? Which are you favourite?