Big garden ideas, Small garden design space? – Creating the illusion of space in your plot

garden design

In modern cities and urban areas gardens are at a premium. According to, gardens are in the top 5 on a homebuyer’s wish list. So it’s important to make the most of your garden, whatever its size. However, if you have a small garden design, there are a variety of tricks that can make it seem bigger:

 small garden design


Simply take your squares and rectangles and rotate by 45 degrees. Bingo! The lines fly out to the sides, giving the garden a dynamic structure and creating deep planting pockets. The garden will feel wider and have much greater scope for planting.


Clutter clogs up a space. Furniture can make a small garden feel crowded as chairs are not always returned neatly under tables. Include fixed bench seating if you can as this takes up a pre-determined amount of space and helps keep things ordered. If you can also include storage in your fixed seating, so much the better.


Ask yourself whether you need a shed. The shed is so ubiquitous in British gardens that many people find the idea of not having one an alien concept. However it often sits unused and dilapidated or filled with junk that should have been thrown out or recycled years ago. Sometimes a storage box or bike store will be more than sufficient for your needs. People also have a strange notion that a shed has to go at bottom of the garden. But if that is your sunniest area with the best view why waste in on a shed? Make use of it for yourself. In this garden we nestled a small bike store halfway down the garden on the right, masked by a decorative chain curtain.

Boundaries and masking

Those boundaries have a lot to answer for. Cover them as much as possible to create the feeling of extended space. Blur the edges, don’t accentuate them. Whatever you do, don’t paint your fences a bright or bold colour – unless you have invested in high-end bespoke timberwork all you are doing is drawing attention to cheap shiplap panels. Climbing plants and deep beds really help to add layers to the space and will hide where your garden starts and finishes. Use screens to create layers. In this garden we used a decorative chain curtain to give tantalising glimpses to the bottom of the garden.

Add height

The sky is the limit. Include a vertical element or two to your garden to help draw the eye freely through the space. Install wide archways, again on the diagonal if you can, for plants to clamber over.


People think small plants work better in a small space. This is not always true. Even in a small garden tiny plants can look a little pathetic and actually draw attention to the lack of space. A few choice, well-placed large leafy plants will add depth. Fool the eye by planting large specimens in the foreground and smaller plants towards the back – this creates false perspective and is a trick that has been employed in landscaping for centuries. In our example bold Buxus in tall tapered planters dominate the foreground and smaller plants disappear into the background, making the garden seem much longer than it actually is.