How to make a small front garden look bigger – 10 clever ideas to create the illusion of space

Make this often underused outdoor space work harder

Front garden with blue door
(Image credit: Future PLC)

When it comes to making the most of our outdoor space, our front gardens are often overlooked, especially if they are on the smaller side. But by doing so you could be missing out on having somewhere to plant some of your favourite blooms or even enjoy your cup of coffee in the morning.

So, if you thought that your front garden was too small to do anything with it, we’ve got several expert tips to help make a small front garden look bigger and help you make the most of the space.

Not all front garden ideas are made for a small garden, and even then not all of these will help make the space look bigger. So we've spoken to the experts to help arm you with the tips you need to create that illusion of space you're craving. 

How to make a small front garden look bigger

‘Making a small garden look and feel bigger can seem like a difficult task, but there’s plenty of ways to go about it,’ suggests James Ewens, Commercial Director at Alexander Francis. ‘A lot of the methods involve tricking the eyes to either give the illusion of something more or to draw them to certain spaces so as to not focus on the boundaries.’

And these are the 11 ideas that the experts recommend most to transform your small front garden ideas into one that looks and feels bigger than it is.

1. Choose plants that add depth

Front garden with blue door

(Image credit: Future PLC)

When space is at a premium you need to consider which types of plants will fit without taking up too much space. Opting for a container garden ideas is potentially the best option as you get the benefits of being able to move pots around as and when you need to, while also being able to fill the pots with your favourite plants and blooms.

‘The fuller the pots look, the more your space will feel like a proper garden,’ says MyJobQuote.co.uk’s Gardening Expert, Fiona Jenkins. ‘Choose plants that will fill out the pots and spill over the sides such as fuchsias, azaleas and begonias or trailing petunias and lobelias.’

‘You also want to allow room for growth when planting to ensure the space won't be overcrowded, as this can make your front garden appear even smaller,’ warns Tom Clifford, Gardenstone’s Landscaping Expert.

2. Utilise vertical space

Hanging basket next to pink front door

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Just because there isn’t a lot of space on the ground, doesn’t mean that you don’t have a lot of space to play with. You’ll want to start by looking upwards, to see what vertical space you have at your disposal. ‘Climbing plants like clematis or ivy soften walls and fences, blurring boundaries and creating the illusion of more depth,’ explains Josh Novell, Director at Polhill

While hanging baskets, planters and window boxes can simultaneously add a pop of colour and allow more flexibility when it comes to your choice of plants and blooms. ‘Plus, their distinctive look offers the opportunity to add interest by covering boring walls with blossoming colours and greenery,’ remarks Caron Grant, Brand Manager at Bridgman.

3. Embrace curves

Blue gate with curved path

(Image credit: Future PLC)

It’s time to ditch the straight lines and embrace gentle curves in your front garden path ideas. ‘A curved path, for instance, draws the eye on a journey, making the garden feel longer than it is. This trick also applies to borders, so avoid rigid edges and opt for a more naturalistic flow instead,’ Josh says. 

Straight lines ‘will make the garden seem smaller and two-dimensional,’ Elaine Penhaul, Founder and Director of Lemon and Lime, agrees.

Tom also recommends that you ‘break up the space on your front lawn by incorporating a meandering path leading to your front door. The bends in the path will naturally draw the eye outwards to help create the illusion of a wider lawn.’ So, not only will it create visual interest but it will give the appearance of a larger front garden.

4. Keep paths narrow

Narrow path in small front garden

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Speaking of paths, most of our front gardens can be pretty narrow, so it’s important to think about the best layout. ‘By keeping pathways in your front garden narrow, you are actually not only maximising the planting space available, but you're tricking the eye into thinking your garden is bigger,’ LeisureBench’s Garden Expert, Steve Chilton, suggests.

‘If your path is too wide, then it will take up too much space and your garden will appear smaller.’

5. Add a seating area

Outdoor furniture in small front garden

(Image credit: Future PLC)

For many of us, our front garden can be a bit of a dead space. But making it into a useful and usable area can immediately change that. 'A seating area is good at making a garden feel bigger than it is,’ adds Fiona.

Just be wary of cramming too large a piece of garden furniture in your front garden. Think about what will work best for you and the space that you have available to you. That could be a bistro set or a compact two-seater bench but either way, it will make you want to spend more time out there and will switch up the way that you think about your front garden.

6. Create a focal point

Front garden with brick paving

(Image credit: Future PLC)

‘Adding a focal point to your front garden is a good way to distract attention from its small size,’ Fiona explains. And you don’t need a lot of space to create a centrepiece with an ornament or water feature.

‘Whether it be a flower bed, a tree, plant or small decoration, making a focal point can help focus the eye on one spot and make your garden look bigger than it really is,’ Steve reveals. 

7. Install lighting

pink flower with green tree and shrub

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

For most, your front garden is the first thing that guests see when they visit. So, you’ll want to welcome any visitors by creating a warm and inviting atmosphere for them to walk through with your garden lighting ideas. The right lighting can ‘make your garden not only look bigger, but better too,’ says Steve. 

Caron recommends ‘illuminating pathways, driveways and even flowerbeds with solar lanterns, wall lights and pathway lamps.’ Choosing garden solar lights or rechargeable options saves you from having to worry about wires or replacing batteries. While sensor lights only come on as and when you need them to.

‘Using uplights and spotlights is also a great way to highlight a single plant or bush, bringing out the detail. This helps to give the plant a more rounded appearance and focuses the attention on individual sections of the garden,’ Fiona adds.

8. Combine a lawn with other elements

Front garden with lawn in front of brick house

(Image credit: Future PLC/Katie Lee)

Having a mixture of different elements, when it comes to your garden landscaping idea can instantly open up the space. For example, Steve recommends always keeping a bit of grass or lawn in a small front garden. ‘The distinct difference between the grass will make your garden look bigger,’ he reveals. ‘It will also offer you more space for planting and look good on the eye.’

And Isabel Fernandez, Marketing Director at Quorn Stone, agrees. You’ll want to ‘mix hardscaping, such as pathways, cobbles, gravel, with naturalistic planting – evergreens, perennials etc. – to create zones and a sense of space and depth.’

9. Lighten up the colours

Red brick house with gravel

(Image credit: Future PLC)

‘Light and airy colours make small spaces feel larger,’ Josh advises. There are a couple of different ways to use lighter colours, materials and plants to your advantage. For example, ‘light coloured tiling or decorative gravel on the ground, along with white or light grey flower beds, which will help to give the space a bright and airy feel,’ Elaine affirms.

Or, why not paint your fence a paler hue, like cream or pale blue. ‘Additionally, if you opt for light-coloured flowers like white lilies or pale pink petunias, they will also add an extra dose of spaciousness,’ Josh concludes.

10. Keep it well maintained

White house with roses in garden

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Another simple tip to follow; a messy, overgrown garden can make it look much smaller than it really is. So, you’ll want to keep on top of your gardening tasks or make your front garden as low maintenance as possible.

Steve recommends ‘keeping the grass nice and short and plants well-trimmed. You should also remove any weeds and keep paths clear to keep your garden looking organised and tidy, which in turn, makes it look bigger.’

FAQs

What works best for a narrow but small front garden?

Quite a few of us will have narrow front gardens but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make the most of that outdoor space. And thankfully the experts have a few solutions.

‘Try building up some height on either side to add more depth and disguise the narrow space,’ Fiona outlines. ‘Start with low bedding plants nearest to the path, then taller perennials in the middle and shrubs, hedging or ornamental grasses at the back.’

Whereas ‘if you have a grass lawn try mowing it with vertical stripes, these thin lines will create the impression of more lawn and widen the space,’ Tom explains.

Are there any hacks to make a small front garden look bigger on a budget?

‘Simply incorporating a mirror into your garden is a quick and budget friendly way to extend the appearance of your front garden,’ Tom suggests. ‘Not only do mirrors add visual interest but they will reflect areas of your garden and bounce light around the space. Plus this means the amount of plants or flowers you have in your garden will instantly be doubled.’

And ‘if you don't have a lot of budget for a complete renovation of your front garden, the best thing you can do is keep it neat and tidy, as well as remove any over-sized trees, plants and furnishings,’ Steve concludes.

Ellis Cochrane
Contributor

Ellis Cochrane has been a Freelance Contributor for Ideal Home since 2023. She graduated with a Joint Honours degree in Politics and English from the University of Strathclyde and between her exams and graduation, started a lifestyle blog where she would share what she was buying, reading and doing. In doing so, she created opportunities to work with some of her dream brands and discovered the possibility of freelance writing, after always dreaming of writing for magazines when she was growing up.


Since then, she has contributed to a variety of online and print publications, covering everything from celebrity news and beauty reviews to her real passion; homes and interiors. She started writing about all things homes, gardens and interiors after joining Decor & Design Scotland as a Freelance Journalist and Social Media Account Manager in 2021. She then started freelancing at House Beautiful, Country Living and in Stylist’s Home team. Ellis is currently saving to buy her first home in Glasgow with far too many Pinterest boards dedicated to her many design ideas and inspirations.