Big ideas for small gardens: Stuck with a tiny outside space? Here’s how to maximise your plot with some expert tips
Many of us would love a garden that stretches for acres, fitting a tennis court, a five-a-side pitch and still leaving room for fruit bushes.
But instead, most Brits have to make do with something no larger than a postage stamp.
Happily, however, there are ways to make even the smallest outside space look generous, which in turn will attract buyers and increase the value of your home.
Get creative: Give the illusion of more space with clever planting
Blur the boundaries
Paint your garden walls green and disguise them with climbing plants. By hiding the edges, you will make your outside space seem to expand. So strip the walls of sparkly lights and other clutter and help them blend into the vegetation. And if you paint planters and other surfaces green too — with furniture the same colour — it will fool the eye to make it all appear bigger.
Downsize your shed
The wooden monstrosity at the end of the garden is more often used as a junk store than for gardening needs. Your old baby gear, half-used paint pots and folding chairs can all be shifted elsewhere, passed on or thrown away. Really, you don’t need anything larger than a cupboard to fit the lawnmower and garden shears. On the reclaimed ground you can squeeze in a tiny summer house, big enough for two seats and a table, to enjoy a glass of wine in the sun.
Add layers and life
A flower border can be just 60cm deep and still add a new layer to the garden. Place it around an existing patio or decking, where the scents will make outdoor dining a much more enjoyable experience. The bees and other insects attracted will inject more life and colour into the space, too.
Trick to double space
A large mirror at the end of the garden will instantly appear to double the length of your space. Disguise the edges with a few plants and visitors won’t even realise what it is until they’re up close. It will also bring in extra light to shady zones.
Bin greedy shrubs
Large shrubs are often used to mark the boundary of a garden, but they’re greedy for light and can easily overgrow. Instead, go for an attractive fence or slim planters — these will divide your garden from your neighbour’s just as well.
For variety, be versatile
You can have a small patio for a barbecue and dining, a grassy area for sunbathing, a little water feature, a wild zone — but make sure they don’t all blend into one. The result will be visual anarchy.
To avoid this, buy small and flexible pieces of furniture. Benches, for example, are less visually intrusive than chairs and can double up as tables. Hammocks can come and go for lazy days, and extra seating can be built into large planters.
Plan wise planting
Plants of different heights add a sense of depth — and potted trees take up little room, so you can still have the fruit or olive tree you dream of even if you only have a tiny courtyard.
Tweaks to treat
Instead of decking, you could use patterned tiles. They’re hard-wearing and will jazz up the space no end. You’ll have a talking point for visitors even if your garden barely fits a table and two chairs!
If you’re keen on creating a space for entertaining, add a fire pit or buy a projector so you can watch a film beamed on to a blank wall. You need little space and, with a few drinks, it could be an evening to remember.
Sky’s the limit
Don’t forget, there’s space above you, too. You could have a pergola with hanging baskets to squeeze in a few more plants, or drape pretty lights from the beams to add beauty when night falls.