Discover how to make a small garden look bigger – 15 clever tips

Maximise space - or at least the illusion of it - with these expert tricks for your outdoor space
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  • Outdoor space is at a premium at never before and can add serious value to your home. Learning how to make a small garden look bigger will not only help if you’re selling, but will make your time spent there all the better.

    Small garden ideas encompass all types of space from balconies and terraces to little lawns and petite patios. Whatever space you have, there are easy and tricks to make the most of any limited outdoor space.

    From thoughtful planting, to using mirrors, we explain how you can make smaller garden ideas look bigger and feel more spacious.

    How to make a small garden look bigger

    ‘By thinking outside the box and making a few small changes, you can give the illusion of a much bigger space,’ explains one of the experts from Gardening Express. ‘Or really create the extra space that you want.’

    ‘Consider completely changing the layout of the space if size is something which is high up in your list of priorities.’

    1. Blur the boundaries

    Garden with metal table and chairs surrounded by wild planting

    Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole

    Blurring the boundaries of where your garden ends and the next space begins is a simple way for how to make small garden look bigger. One easy way to achieve this is by using wild, cottage garden ideas. The informal planting at varying heights will make it unclear how far your boundaries truly extend.

    To heighten the effect, keep shorter planting closer to your working space, and allow the heights to gradually increase. Steering away from formal box hedges will blue these lines even further, too.

    2. Disguise exterior walls

    Green wall in garden with climbing plants

    Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme

    Use garden paint ideas to allow walls to fade into the background. A simple, but effective, trick, is to paint an exterior wall in green. Your eye won’t notice this amongst the trees, grass and planting, especially if you train a climber across it. The wall will blend in and so there is no obvious delineation of the ‘end’ of the garden.

    3. Play with proportions

    Garden with colourful flowers and narrow grey shed

    Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme

    Proportions can play a large role in how to make a small garden look bigger. One way of doing this is through your garden shed ideas. A narrow, smaller shed, in teh same garden as large flowers, tall hedges or climbers, and big pots will disrupt the proportions of the space.

    The shed will seem like a larger version further away than it actually is in contrast to the closer larger objects and plants.

    4. Take lighting up high

    Garden at night with festoon lights against dark fence

    Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore

    Garden lighting ideas help highlight the best parts of our outdoor spaces, as well as disguise what we need hidden. Another way in which they make impact is by making your garden appear larger than it is.

    String your festoon lights as high up on your fence or wall as you can and your garden will appear both wider and taller. From up close, your fences will appear higher, and from further away it’ll look like the lights are at a normal level, and that they are just further away.

    5. Paint surfaces all one colour

    Garden with white surfaces and wall with climbing plants

    Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles

    If you’re playing with things such as outdoor kitchen ideas then you’re likely to have quite a few surfaces in your garden. Walls, fences, worktops, and so on. Help these blur into once another by painting these all the same shade, as a mix of colours will seem messy and cluttered, visually closing off the space.

    Enhance this effect by choosing any tiling you need in the same colour as the paint. Choose a light, cool shade to bounce around light and help the space look even larger again.

    6. Trick the eye with a mural

    Garden with painted mural on brick wall

    Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore

    Clever use of outdoor wall decor ideas will show how to make a small garden look bigger. One fun way of doing this is by painting a mural. Paint on an extension to your garden – or what you wish your garden looked like! As well as tricking the eye into the garden going on further than it does, you’re guaranteed year round colour with little maintenance aside from cleaning.

    7. Add mirrors

    Small urban garden with wall mirror

    Image credit: Future PLC/David Still

    You’ve heard the phrase smoke and mirrors? Create the illusion of extra space with simple garden mirror ideas. ‘Mirrors are great for making any space look bigger and your garden space is no different’ says the expert from Gardening Express. ‘A large feature mirror will give added size, or even consider putting mirrors along the whole length of a wall in order to double it – just make sure no one walks into the mirror!’

    8. Plant vertically

    Garden patio with living wall

    Image credit: Future PLC/James Merrell

    ‘In order to create more ground space, and to make the grassy area of your garden larger, plant vertically,’ advises the team at Gardening Express. ‘This removes the need for borders around the edge of the garden, meaning these can be filled in.’

    You could try planting a living wall, or using hanging baskets at different levels to add colour and depth to your space.

    9. Remove bushes

    Gravel garden path beside stone house and planting

    Image credit: Future PLC/Mark Bolton

    Take out bulky shrubs and bushes. ‘Big bushes commonly found around the outside of garden spaces can take up a lot of space’ explains the spokesperson from Gardening Express. ‘Consider removing these and replacing with a fence, if security is needed, or grass the new space over and use planters full of colourful flowers to help increase the curb appeal.’

    This doesn’t even have to be an expensive process. Clever use of free garden ideas will help you fill out your space for less.

    10. Create zones

    Garden with paving and wooden decking and zones of planting

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Learning how to plan a small garden will help you in making the most of it. ‘Applying certain zones and differing the furniture and flooring of the area could give you the illusion of extra space,’ say the team at Gardening Express. ‘Furniture lying around the garden can make it look cluttered and therefore smaller.’

    ‘But with distinct zones, where your BBQ and table and chairs all look at home will give a more organised, and larger feel.’ You could also use outdoor rugs to perfect this step.

    11. Consider furniture choices

    Garden patio with white walls and wooden table and bench

    Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme

    ‘Make sure all your furniture looks at home in the space and isn’t too big,’ advises Gardening Express. ‘If a table looks huge, that will become the focus of the space,’ rather than the beautiful plants and flowers you’ve lovingly planting around them. ‘Ensure that each item works well with one another and doesn’t overpower the space.’

    12. Build bespoke seating with storage

    White built-in garden bench with bistro table and chairs

    Image credit: Future PLC/Hannah Lewis

    For a savvy furniture solution, you can’t beat a bespoke built-in design. A smart garden bench built to suit the exact measurements you require is the ideal way to make your small garden feel bigger simply by way of using the space at its full potential.

    A bespoke garden bench takes functionality one step further by updating the base to become a storage compartment. Multifunctional and making the most of valuable garden space, what’s not to love for a small garden?

    13. Check boundaries

    Wooden garden boundary fence with white flowers

    Image credit: Future PLC/Mark Bolton

    Check the deeds to reclaim any extra space. It may be that previous occupants of the house have put a fence further into the garden than your boundaries state. By checking your house deeds, you may discover that you have more space around the edge of your fence, meaning a boundary move might be just what you need.

    14. Make the use interchangeable

    Garden hammock in small garden space

    Image credit: Future PLC/Matthew Williams

    A hammock can be the greatest gift for a small garden space, due to the flexibility. All you need are secure hooks in place to support the weight of a hammock, for the times when the comfort is required. But for the times when you need to create more room you can simply remove the hammock and allow the space to open up for a wider social occasion.

    15. Incorporate potted plants to add interest

    Balcony garden with bistro table and chairs

    Image credit: Future PLC/Emma Lewis

    Balcony garden ideas have great examples of what you can do with even the tiniest of outdoor spaces. Group together plant pots in lots of different sizes and all kinds of finishes for an eclectic look. The result is fresh and pretty display that brightens up your balcony garden, even when you’re looking at it from the inside.

    A good trick is to plant shrubs at different heights, to add depth and create the illusion that the space is more generous.

    How do I make small garden look bigger?

    There are so many ways you can make a small garden look larger than it actually is. Use of mirrors and other reflective surfaces work the same as they do indoors – bouncing light around and making the space appear bigger. Utilise vertical planting and include shelves for smaller pots so you can free up square footage. Similarly, built in seating takes up less room and will make the garden seem larger.

    What colours make a garden look bigger?

    Using light, bright colours will make a space feel larger and airier than deep, warm colours. This is just as true outdoors as it is inside. While this of course applies to areas you might be painting, or furniture, it also encompasses planting. The cooler, lighter flowers and plants will make your garden look larger than it is in reality.

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