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​Seven Big Tips for Small Gardens

Kate Warren Image By Kate Warren
​Seven Big Tips for Small Gardens Image

It's all too easy to overlook the potential of a small garden, particularly if you're not used to gardening. So to help you make the most of your outdoor space, we've compiled a list of seven great tips for making the most of your small garden.

1) Make sure you know what the garden is for

When space is limited, you don't have the freedom to just 'sit back and see what happens'. Small gardens need to be designed around their main purpose. So before you buy a single plant or plank of decking, make sure you know exactly what you want from your garden.

You should ask yourself whether you want it to be a decorative feature or a small area for entertaining. Is it going to be used by children or will you make the most of it as a kitchen garden?

Once you know how you're going to use the area, then you can set about researching ideas. Gardening and lifestyle magazines, as well as online curation services like Pinterest, are great for inspiration.

2) To lawn or not to lawn?

With a small garden, it's easy to jump to the idea that a lawn is out of the question. Instead, low maintenance options like paving or decking tend to spring to mind, but these can create issues with drainage or leaf litter and, are rarely as impressive as a well kept lawn.

In a small garden, the lawn should complement the whole rather than be the main feature, so don't sow it into every corner. Think instead about creating an interesting shape that encourages people to look around the whole area.

Of course, mowing can be difficult on a small lawn, so you might want to think about alternatives like artificial turf or a beautifully scented camomile lawn.

3) Use the walls

It pays to really think about using all three dimensions of your garden, and not just the flat ground. By including climbing plants or wall-hanging pots and pouches, you can make the walls an integral feature of the whole area.

Climbing plants are also fantastic at covering unsightly walls. So if the the grey of breeze blocks currently dominate the space, don't delay - head out and buy a clematis and honeysuckle today!

4) Make a point of pots

Whilst you may have room for a small border or bed, pots are the gardener's best friend in small spaces. Pots can add height, and can be moved to make room for furniture in the summer - or just to keep the design fresh. They are also a great way to present feature plants such as small trees.

If you're gardening on a balcony then pots are your only option, but they can be used to great effect with bright blooms in the spring and summer, which are easily moved out of view to give way to evergreens in the autumn and winter.

One tip with pots - keep a uniform style and colour to your pots. It's easy to get pulled into buying on-trend containers but, as with all fashions, they'll be on their way soon enough and having too many colours and styles will make the garden look chaotic rather than thought through.

5) Create the illusion of size

The art of gardening in a small area is to make the space appear larger than it actually is.

Carefully positioned mirrors can give a real sense of space and depth, and making the most of your neighbour's overhanging plants can make the garden seem much larger. Just plant right up to the leaves and branches that are on your side of the boundary to create a seamless transition.

6) Beware of furniture

If you plan to use your garden for entertaining or relaxing in, then you're likely to want some furniture, but beware: don't let tables, chairs and benches dominate the space.

To minimise the amount of furniture in the garden, think about cladding raised beds so they can double up as benches. Similarly, stonework can be placed against walls to make interesting informal seating.

If you want to include a table and chairs, then make sure they're easily portable and can fold up to be stored indoors. Jersey weather means that you're unlikely to use the garden for entertaining during the autumn and winter, so rather than leave the furniture outside getting soggy, bring it in so the garden can shine on its own once again.

7) Lighten up

If you have a good view of your garden from indoors, then you should really think about using lights to help make a feature of the space during the darker months and at night.

Careful use of lights to pick out feature plants and trees can create the illusion of an extension to your living room, or whichever space backs onto it. A well lit garden will capture everyone's attention, creating a discussion point and earning you lots of praise!

Happy gardening!

Most importantly, use your imagination. A small garden can be a fascinating feature of any property, so don't dismiss it - make it enhance your home.

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