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making the most of a smaller garden tythorne garden design.jpg

Garden design solutions: 3 ways to make the most of a smaller garden

We love designing small gardens. Yes, trying to fit everything in to a smaller plot can be a challenge, but when every centimetre really counts there is a definite joy in making the very most of a compact garden’s full potential. Many people, however, really struggle to know where to begin if they have a restricted space, so here are three top tips to help anyone looking to improve a smaller garden:


1. Prioritise simplicity

The most important advice a garden designer can offer anyone with a smaller garden is to try to keep things as simple as possible. This starts with being really clear about how we want to use the garden, and how we want it to make us feel. We firmly believe that we should always start with a ‘wish list’ because it can really help us to identify our most important priorities.


We can be imaginative but we must also be realistic, so let’s focus on simple shapes and lines and resist anything overly fussy or complicated. If we choose to have curves, they need to have a clear sense of direction and purpose…meandering ‘organic’ shapes are rarely successful in a smaller space.


2. Cohesion is king (or queen)

Smaller gardens are easily compromised by having too many different hard-landscaping materials, too many focal points and a mixed-up ‘hotch-potch’ of plants. Less is often more in any garden, but this is especially true in smaller plots.


It can be tempting to have a few different hard-landscaping materials, but this is almost always a mistake. Let’s pick one 'main' or 'dominant' paving material, and complement it with an edging detail or a contrasting gravel. De-cluttering our planting is also important, so we like to use a degree of repetition to achieve continuity and purpose. Many plants look great in groups or clusters, and most planting schemes benefit from using a few 'key' plants again and again to lead the eye and tie everything together.



3. What boundaries?

Boundary walls, fences and hedges tend to be very dominant in smaller gardens and they always make a garden feel much smaller than it actually is. We can reduce the visual impact of our boundaries by ‘disrupting’ our view of them with planting and structures. A small tree, large shrub or a simple trellis can work wonders for this, but mirrors and ‘false’ doors or gates can also be really effective.


Carefully positioned focal points can also really help because they can draw our attention away from the boundaries. This is essentially a simple distraction technique, but a carefully positioned sculpture, statue or water feature can work wonders in leading the eye and creating a definite sense of interest.



These three simple tips can really help when it comes to making the most of a smaller garden. Limited space needn’t be a reason for us not to be able to create something really interesting and enjoyable.

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