Small garden ideas to make the most of a tiny space

Update a compact garden with our small garden ideas, featuring design tips, planting advice and savvy buys for modern gardens, pretty patios, tiny terraces and bijou balconies

If you’re looking for small garden ideas, you’ve come to the right place. Small gardens, tiny terraces and petite patios may require a little more thought than larger spaces, but even the tiniest plot can be transformed into an elegant outdoor retreat. After all, they do say that good things come in small packages.

Small gardens have lots of advantages – the big one is that they’re wonderfully low-maintenance. They’re also great spaces to be creative, as even the smallest additions, from colourful cushions to stylish garden lighting, will have a dramatic effect.

Whether you’re looking to create an impressive balcony garden, want to squeeze in some garden furniture or love to be surrounded by greenery, you’ll find lots of pictures below to inspire you. And if you need to do your small garden on a budget, we have plenty of ideas you can try without spending a fortune.

Love your garden? Visit the Ideal Home garden shop and check out our curated collection of flowers and shrubs.

Paint walls white

21 White-wall-small-garden-ideas Nick Pope

Image credit: Nick Pope

Think of your exterior like you would an interior. White paint is often used to make the most of a small space because of its brightening and lightening properties, and gardens can benefit from this trick, too. With white painted brickwork and white garden furniture, this is a beautifully summery scheme that has serious style.

Get the look
Buy now: Masonry Pure Brilliant White Paint, £17, Wilko

Plant a lush garden with pots

20 Potted-plants-various-sizes-small-garden-ideas Keith Henderson

Image credit: Keith Henderson

You don’t need a lawn to create a lush garden – and flower beds aren’t necessary either. A low-maintenance ‘flooring’ option such as gravel is great for small gardens. Add lots of pots, filled with everything from the tiniest flowering plants to tall and bushy trees. Finish off with some garden furniture and you’ll have the perfect spot to enjoy a summer’s day.

Get the look
Buy now: similar benches, The Garden Furniture Centre

Trail plants up a fence

19 Pink trellis small garden ideas Jamie Mason

Image credit: Jamie Mason

Make use of a fence to add colour and greenery. Climbing plants and trellises are a great solution for small gardens, as they lift flowers and foliage up off the ground. A pretty fence will do a lot to detract attention from a teeny plot – after all, if you or your visitors are focusing on beautiful roses or a hot-pink trellis, who’s going to notice a garden’s dimensions?

Get the look
Buy now: Galvanised Metal 10ltr bucket, £6.05, Amazon

Brighten up with colourful furniture

18 Painted garden furniture small garden ideas David Giles

Image credit: David Giles

Even the tiniest terrace can be transformed into something exceptional. Here, it’s the garden furniture paint that makes the space special. Take note, your seating colours don’t have to match – bright hues like the orange and pink here go really well together and an aqua bench would work brilliantly, too, as you can see from the accessories.

Get the look
Buy now: Cuprinol Garden Shades furniture paint, £12.99 for 1ltr, Wickes

Plan a multitasking garden

17 Colourful-cushions-canopy-small-garden-ideas Polly Wreford

Image credit: Polly Wreford

If space is tight, make sure that what you have is working hard for you. This well-planned garden has a raised flower bed, garden wall and garden seat all rolled into one. Greenery provides shade, privacy and interest up high, while the wall offers a handy ledge for lanterns, plus practical built-in seating. Cushions bring the comfort of indoor living outside and add a lovely hit of colour.

Get the look
Buy now: Extra Large Lantern, £99, Marks & Spencer

Need outdoor furniture? Check out: Garden furniture: our pick of the best

Mix your media

16 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

13 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

12 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

10 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:
plants from selection at Waitrose Garden

Go tropical

15 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

14 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: Oasis Lounge Set, £329, John Lewis
Garden design: Randle Siddeley

Try chalet chic

7 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: Relax Garden chair, £107.99, Wayfair

Make room for little ones

9 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: Rowlinson Pavilion playhouse, £1,286, B&Q

Build a cool cabana

8 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: Harlequin Lulu Fabric, £45 per m, Jane Clayton

Looking for more easy garden tips? READ: Summer garden ideas to help you get the best from your space

Trick the eye

11 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 a long sheet mirror to keep the look urban and complement it with contemporary linear fencing. Enhance the sense of privacy with ornamental grasses, potted evergreens and climbing plants.

Get the look
Buy now: similar paving, London Stone

Rethink seating

3 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. Mix and match your colours for a bright looking garden scheme.

Get the look
Buy now: Padstow Burnt Orange Bistro Set, £85, Tesco Direct

Perfect your look

5 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

6 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: Rive Droite Bistro Set, £115, Garden Trading

Pretty up with soft furnishings

1 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 cushions, Marks & Spencer

Play with colour

2 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: Decadent Bright Mix PomPoms, £2.49 for three, Talking Tables

Dare to do something different

4 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:
for a similar bath, try the Landmark Dark Metal Grey bath, £2,499, Bathstore
Buy now: parasol, Southsea Deckchairs

Want more patio inspiration? READ: 12 easy patio ideas that will make your summer brighter

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We hope our small garden ideas have given you inspiration for your plot. Have you got any other great small garden ideas?

Visit the Ideal Home garden shop

Love your garden? Take advantage of our special offers on plants at the Ideal Home garden shop. Our curated collection of beautiful flowers and shrubs is guaranteed to add colour and charm to your outdoor space.

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