Small gardens are wonderful. They’re easy to maintain, and they’re beautifully intimate for social gathering. But they do challenge us to be creative with our choices and methods, as we don’t have the wide-open spaces of larger gardens.We need to make the most of smaller spaces, and we need to use the right plants for the space. When you’ve got ten acres, the garden is a very forgiving space and you can be eclectic without being cluttered. The small garden requires a finer touch…So without further ado:
The Only Way Is Up
You’re not going to get huge borders in your small garden, so you’re limited in where you can add colour and shape. You’re also going to face the challenge of not making it feel ‘pokey’ for guests. Here’s where vertical planting comes in.You don’t want the eye to be drawn to the close corners of your garden, or to any point which accentuates its small size. Instead, you want the eye to be drawn upward. Think foxgloves, sanguisorba and persicaria which all grow thin and tall. The same goes for climbers. These will give you the same impact when you walk into a small house with high ceilings. It feels more spacious and grandiose, which are two words you’ll love hearing from guests to your ‘small’ garden.Bonus tip: always have at least one tree. One can be all you have, but have at least one.
Small gardens can easily feel oppressive with big blocks of strong colour. They catch the eye, which is normally great, but you don’t want eyes to stop in a small garden. It accentuates the size. Instead, you want a ‘soft-focus’ by layering plants and colours that complement one another and don’t command your attention.Think about lacy and delicate plants which will hint as to what’s behind them. These plants will take up very little space, add an airy feel to your garden, and hint that something lies behind. This creation of depth is a fiction, of course, but it’s all about perception. Big blocks of thick plants feel like the end of something, whereas layers can make you think they go on forever.
This is the same principle, but you want to take a look at adding some plants with movements. Trees don’t, architectural plants don’t, but grasses and bamboo do. They achieve the same effect as those soft focus plants, hinting at what lies beyond and keeping the eye moving. Wild, tall grasses will give your guests plenty to watch whilst they’re sipping a Pimms on your (compact) garden furniture. This movement and layering is like white paint or mirrors in a small bathroom, it creates the illusion of size. And illusions are your best friend in a small garden.
Eden Restored is a team of passionate garden designers working throughout London, Kent and Surrey.
We deliver value-for-money on projects of any size, from inner-city courtyards to countryside cottages.
To discuss your ideas and how we can help throughout the entire process, get in touch.