Garden expert Frances Tophill shares her secret for choosing plants for a small garden

It's all about the size

When it comes to tackling a small garden, gardening expert and presenter Frances Tophill has shared her top planting tip, and it appears when it comes to plants size really does matter.

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Now that BBQ season is almost upon us, it seems safe to say that many of us are on the lookout for small garden ideas to make our outdoor space look bigger. However, if you are planning a trip to the local garden centre to spruce up your plot with new plants, Frances advises going big, or go home - literally.

small garden with table plants and juice glass

(Image credit: Future PLC /Alasdair McIntosh)

‘Don’t plant little plants – that’s the biggest thing,’ Frances explains. ‘If you put miniature plants in a small garden, then it will make it look like a miniature space.'

According to the presenter who regularly shares her expertise on 'Love Your Garden' and 'Gardeners' World' don't be tempted to cram your garden with lots of small plants, instead create an optical illusion by using larger trees.

garden with wooden chair cushion and flower

(Image credit: Future PLC /David Giles)

'If you plant one or even two trees and put them at the edge of the garden, then you won’t be able to see down to the bottom of your garden,' she explains. 'It gives the impression that the garden will go on a little bit further than you think,’ she adds.

'If you plant small plants in a small garden, you can see the whole boundaries all the time. Then, because you can see the boundaries, you know they’re there, so it feels cramped. Obscure the boundaries with trees or big tropical-looking plants, then you can’t see where the edges are. It will feel so much better.'

garden with plants and trees

(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to choosing trees at the garden centre, Frances suggests opting for ones that are ‘no more than 3 or 4 meters high and have a ‘nice shape,’ to make the space feel like an oasis. While trees don't come cheap, you only need a couple to make a statement, depending on the size of your garden you will probably only be able to fit in a couple anyway.

Related: Garden storage ideas – 13 outdoor designs for tools, furniture and even the bins

So step away from the mini plants, to make a pick impact in a small space follow Frances Tophill's small garden plant tip and scale your greenery up.

Rebecca Knight
Deputy Editor, Digital

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.