How to design a small garden

Have you moved to the city and bought a space with a small garden? If you design your garden correctly you could take advantage by creating an illusion of space. But don’t be fooled — less space doesn't mean less work. We’ve got eight tips for you to design the ‘small’ garden of your dreams.

Plan first
Look at your home’s character and try to keep your garden along the same lines so that your house/apartment and garden complement each other. If there is too much contrast between the interior and exterior there will be no flow.

Also don’t forget about the sun — check which areas get the most sunlight and plan the layout of your garden accordingly.

Be plant wise
Making the most of what little space you have also depends on what plants you use. Use different colours, textures, sizes, and shapes, but try limit yourself to two or three colors along with green, as this way you will get more impact. You also don’t need to use small plants, but make sure you keep things in proportion.

Make sure to put darker coloured plants in front and put light coloured plants at the back.

Paint it bigger
Light colours will make the space expand so be sure to paint walls in white, creams and so on. However, you could paint a corner or back wall a darker colour, like black for example, as this will create a shadow and give the illusion of an ongoing garden.

Decorate - a little
Adding different decorations and features to your garden detracts from the small space, but just don’t add to many colours, textures and objects as it will end up looking cluttered. Also avoid bulky furniture.

Mirrors and glass will also allow you to fake extra space — just don't go overboard.

Level it out
One way to create an illusion of space is by dividing the garden into levels, like for example raising a platform where one can sit, adding gazebo area, or building a bridge.

Its all about the curves
In order to create a sense of flow where the garden unfolds and thus extends, add curves rather than just using straight lines. For example, you could add a curved flower bed or curved pathway.

Just add water
Add water to your little garden — especially running water. If you don’t have much space you could add a pool which would run along the bottom edge of a wall creating more depth. Water features also block out noise and create a calming affect which you will need in the city.

Go up
A garden is three-dimensional, so make use of walls, and include forms and plants that offer vertical interest. Climbing plants and vines for example will draw the eye upward. Remember to plant larger plants at the back of the beds and smaller plants in front.

Article by: Thamar Houliston -