The great British garden is an institution. Unfortunately, some of us are more blessed than others when it comes to our outdoor areas. Small lawns, patios and decking present a range of challenges, but they can deliver everything you need if you utilise the available space effectively.
There are five ways you can transform the smallest of spaces into something welcoming and functional.
1. Use a lot of pots
You don’t need large areas for flowerbeds and lawn when you have pots at your disposal. Pots for plants and flowers give you a convenient, low-maintenance way of harnessing everything that Mother Nature has to offer. To keep things interesting, mix and match colours and sizes. And try to vary what you plant as much as possible. While everyone loves flowers, large shrubs and conifers can spruce up even the gloomiest of backyards. If you have dark corners to fill, create different levels of plants and flowers by placing pots on old boxes and pallets.
2. Choose furniture carefully
If you’re dealing with a relatively narrow space, the careful placement of some garden furniture might create the illusion of more space. White garden furniture towards the back of a yard or garden will make the space look bigger with the minimum of effort. The careful placement of potted plants and shrubs could add to the illusion — creating the impression there’s more to explore behind them. If you want to create a Mediterranean look, choose bright reds, browns and oranges for your furniture. As a general rule, keep chairs large and tables relatively small. Experiment with different outdoor lighting options too, as you might be able to illuminate dark areas and open up the entire area.
3. Make the most of walls, trellises and fences
By adding plants, flowers, lighting and foliage to walls and fences, you can create the impression that something else lurks to the sides of your garden. The higher you can go, the more you can draw the eyes of visitors away from the limited space on the ground. If you decide to use a lot of greenery, paint your walls or fences green in order to blur the boundaries of the space. Spend a lot of time making fences and walls look as attractive as possible, as this should divert attention away from how small your garden actually is. If you have brick walls surrounding your garden, consider painting them white.
4. Use every square inch of space
Many of us have space in our gardens and yards which we write off as useless. Alleyways, ginnels, outhouses and passages aren’t just for access, they can often be utilised for storage, displays and entertaining. Think to yourself: Do I really need those bins there? Can I use this alleyway for tables and chairs? That access passage into your garden may look pretty nasty right now, but the addition of some plants, paint and decking could transform it into something special. Once again, this is where your potted plants could come in very useful.
5. Mix and match your finishes
By mixing and matching finishes in your small garden, you’re adding different sections — something that can create the illusion of extra space. For instance, a small strip of artificial lawn against a strip of paving should open up the area nicely. You can even add a third section of decking. The key is to create interlocking zones using contrasting materials. You also have the option of creating “islands” of plants between the different areas.
Don’t be disheartened by the scarcity of space in your gardens and outdoor areas. By thinking outside the box and using your imagination, you can make the smallest of spaces look like a fully landscaped garden.