Small Garden Design Ideas:

Tips for making the space look bigger

garden design

There’s no need to panic if you don’t have a big exterior space. Here’s our small garden design ideas and how you make the most of the space you have.

Earth Design - small garden design ideas

Sometimes if you have a small garden you need to try all the tricks in the book. We would suggest that you make a checklist and work out what things you can’t live without. You might not be able to include everything in your dream garden, but look for ways you can double up such as storage, in built-in seating, or utilising a side return for example. With a little planning, the smallest space can be transformed quite easily.

Big rules for small spaces

  • Planet well
  • Be ingenious
  • Don’t be scared
  • Work out your priorities

Follow this essential guide for small garden design ideas:

Create zones

small garden design ideas - create zones

It might seem counter-productive, but dividing the garden up into a series of zones can give it the feeling of space. Many small urban gardens are long and narrow. So we would suggest you stagger the spaces down the garden. Make an area for relaxing, another for dining and perhaps a storage area. It will give the appearance of your garden continuing through a space.  It creates intrigue and illusion as you then aren’t sure where the garden ends. You can also add height to send the eye upwards and create “happenings“ where you might stumble across a specimen plant, or a nice chair. It works a treat.

Use mirrors

small garden design ideas - use mirrors to make it look bigger

And oldie, but goodie but another one of our small garden design ideas is to use mirrors.  In any space both interior or exterior, mirrors will always increase the size. The reflection not only makes it bigger, but also will bounce light around the area. Perfect for a shady corner, or a space where putting things on the floor will make it cluttered or cramped. Another great tip if there is space, is to put a plant in front of the mirror so you create infinity and double up on greenery.

Built-in furniture

small garden design ideas - use built-in furniture to conserve space

If you build the furniture into the space, it automatically makes the space seen less cluttered. Being space efficient is key to making a small garden seen bigger. Here, we wrapped raised beds around the roof garden, and integrated a deep top seat. This frees up the rest of the space, maximising its appearance.

Go up

small garden design ideas - use tall plants so the the eye goes up rather than up

A very useful on of our small garden design ideas; Send the eye skyward. There is no limit to the sky, use plants that make the most of this. Plants that have a small footprint, such as pre-fans and climbers, they are perfect for creating a montage of greenery without taking up much floor space.

Make everything useful

Small garden design ideas - make the most of everything

One of the key things to make your small garden design scene bigger is to make sure that it isn’t cluttered. If you need outdoor storage, question what you will be storing and whether you need a full-size shed, for example. If you don’t need it,  trunks under seating are a really good solution for eliminating a bulky shade in your final design. Here, we also included a flip top sandpit, that could be used as a seat when not in use.

Diagonal paths

small garden design ideas - use diagonal lines to make it look bigger

There are no rules that say a pathway needs to run in a straight line down the middle of the garden. If you have a garden that is wide enough, try twisting everything as putting pathways on a diagonal axes makes the most of the longest line in the garden. It will allow for more interesting planting as well as creating the illusion of space.

Visual trickery

Top tip for small urban gardens - visual trickery

If you only take one of our small garden design ideas, make it be this one. Throw the eye off the scent by creating visual trickery. If you can, have a central area to pull the focus in to the middle of the space. Make the lines of the garden change direction and send them upwards as well if you can.

Top tip; think clever. Can you ditch the lawn so that you do not have to store a lawnmower and accommodate a large shed? Artificial lawn is becoming increasingly more popular and can provide a great alternative when space is tight.

Mix it up

small garden design ideas - use different materials in areas for contrast

Adding detail on the floor can be a really good way of making your small garden bigger. Adding a circle of cobbles pushes out the lines. You could also use different materials in different areas rather than dividing them with hard landscaping. Have one area that is decked, and one area that is paved different segregates uses within the space. Careful not to overdo it though as it might make the space seen fussy and overcrowded.

Push it out

small garden design ideas - push out the space

Use the lines in your garden well to push it out across the shortest planes. Is this garden, we use the direction of the paving slabs to send the eye in lots of different directions. It’s full of the eye and takes it from one side to the other, making the space seem bigger than it actually is.

Read our other blog on small gardens here. 

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