Making the Most of A Small Garden


So, you have a tiny patch outdoors that’s more like a glorified balcony than a real garden? Even with the smallest space, you can create a place of calm and serenity, somewhere to recharge, soak up the sun and be totally zen. Read on for our top tips.

It might be obvious that creating a garden in a limited space requires careful planning, but that’s easier said than done. Clever design makes all the difference between a cluttered feel and a peaceful oasis. And we’re not just taking about the space at your feet – for small gardens, including wall or fence areas will make a huge difference.

Designing Your Garden

Start working out your design with a scaled drawing of the space. Here are a few things to consider when deciding on your layout:

  • How do you imagine you will use the garden? Soaking up the summer rays in a lounger? Impressing your friends with gourmet barbeques? Or letting your green fingers go wild? Perhaps you want all of the above – a big ask for a small space, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
  • Note the areas of shade and sun in your garden. Think about where you want to sit and what you want to plant. Some plants will happily grow in shade, others will need lots of rays to reach their potential.
  • Think about the view from inside the house. This is Ireland, after all, so you’ll spend plenty of time indoors looking out.
  • Lots of small gardens are overlooked, so consider how you can adapt your design to maximise privacy. A couple of shrubs in just the right spot, or perhaps a line of trellis along the top of a fence, could make all the difference. Place your sitting area in the most private spot.
  • Lighting can make or break a small garden, especially when you’re looking out at it during the cold, miserable winter months. Apart from lighting obvious areas like paths and sitting areas, experiment with lighting up feature areas. You could try a subtle layer of lights at ankle level to give your garden a lovely, ambient glow.
  • Use clever design ideas to make the space appear bigger. Stick to bold, geometric shapes for lawn and patio. Avoid the temptation to squeeze too much in. Use a minimal colour palette and a maximum of three materials on the ground.
  • Having a small garden doesn’t mean you have to sit looking at bare walls – or fences. There’s plenty you can do to brighten up the space, so get creative. Trellis and climbing plants look great in small gardens, but you could also consider making one of the walls a feature wall with a tiled mural or painting.


As with other design elements, keep plants simple to give an uncluttered feel and create the impression of space.

  • Limit your variety of plants, but don’t be afraid to go for large clusters.
  • Winter planting is important. Sturdy, evergreen plants give shape to your garden all year round, and when summer plants bloom, they still provide an enduring backdrop.
  • Seek out plants that will look good throughout the year – or at least for long periods of it. Lavender, for instance, looks great in the summer and if you prune it in the autumn, it will look good throughout the winter too.
  • Make the most of what you’ve got – and in a small garden, that’s fences and walls. Climbers and vertical planters are great ways to maximise space. Even an old shoe organiser hanging on the wall can serve as a home for trailing plants.
  • Get creative with space saving ideas. Hanging baskets and containers are obvious choices but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Consider a potted fruit tree or dwarf tree. Cultivating your own fairy garden could be a really nice touch.
  • Storage space is vital for a small garden, but if you don’t want to give up any of your precious space, you could go for raised beds with storage space underneath.
  • It’s not impossible to grow veggies in a small garden. Choose varieties that don’t need much space. A herb garden, for instance, could be the perfect complement to a fairy garden, tomatoes or peppers will grow in a planter, or rocket lettuce in a window box. Why not go exotic with our guide to some of the more unusual fruit and veg you can grow. Also, use companion planting to your advantage.
  • Small gardens are the perfect places to appreciate beautifully scented flowers. Roses, for example, look fantastic in any garden. They can be trained to grow on a trellis, so won’t take up much space but will flood your small garden with their gorgeous smell. Honeysuckles around the back door and windows will waft in scent all through the summer.

Quick Pick-Me-Ups

There’s a lot you can do for your small garden without going for a complete overhaul. If you just want to brighten up a small garden, we have you covered. First of all, don’t just plant spring and summer bulbs. Autumn and winter bulbs, like tulips and crocuses, will add a splash of colour all year round. For a real impact, plant in large containers or big bunches.

Jazz the place up with some cheap and cheerful accessories. Change the lighting, get some new throws or cushions, add new garden ornaments. A small, solar powered water feature won’t cost the earth and can be a great focal point.

Painting and clearing away clutter will give your garden an instant boost. Paint the walls, fences or even the garden furniture, and remember that light colours are better for smaller spaces. Storage keeps clutter to a minimum and there are lots of nice options that will look great while hiding the mess.

Once you’ve done all that, relax in your new garden with a tipple of your choice. You deserve it.

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