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As cities and towns spread through our country and took over the countryside, thousands of people bemoaned the loss of outdoor space in their homes. Shrinking gardens and the growing use of driveways, garages and outbuildings have made short work of the limited outdoor living area and many people now find themselves with minuscule gardens. This should be seen as a challenge and an opportunity, rather than a limitation.

Planning & preparation

When you’re designing your own small garden, or even working alongside a garden design agency, planning and preparation need to be at the forefront of your mind. Small garden design can be even more difficult given the limited space for creativity, so it’s essential to get your measurements perfect. Your choice of planting, furniture and materials will be defined by the spaces you have but don’t make that wall or mound of grass curb your enthusiasm. Everything is possible and if taking down some brickwork will give you a better space in the end, don’t wince at the thought.

Think about shapes and how best to use the little space that you have. Corner and curved units of furniture can squeeze that extra few inches of space from a small garden and play close attention to the sun’s movement throughout the day. This will not only dictate the best seating and entertainment areas, but also where you can seat certain plants.


Having the blessing of a large garden means that you have flexibility throughout the seasons, the year and your life spent in the home. If you would prefer to change the style of your garden and you have the means to do so, there are few obstacles in your path. With a smaller garden, you need to be more careful about your choices to ensure that you have this flexibility too. Consider installing fence panels that can be easily removed, plants that don’t spread deep or wide roots and where possible, utilise potted plants and hanging baskets. You might prefer an open space in winter, but make sure that when the warmer months come; you have prepared by making sure that your choices of plants and features are easily moved to accommodate barbecues and garden furniture.

Narrow spaces

Most people suffering from small gardens will be those living in ground floor apartments or terraced houses. The latter will almost always boast a longer and thinner garden, rather than a more square or boxy design. This feature of terraced houses gives us great opportunity to split the garden into sections or ‘rooms.’ Treat your garden as an outdoor extension of your house and guide your guests on a journey through your garden. Immediately outside your back doors might be the patio with deck chairs and furniture, a place for eating and drinking and socialising. Following this with a slight distance from the house might be a more green area for relaxation, soaking the sun and enjoying the warmer months on a lawn. The final third of your narrow garden offers the most seclusion from your home and might be a more private dining area, perhaps a couple of seats with architectural hedging providing that privacy that we so often miss in overlooked gardens.


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