Some top tips for small garden design
The hardest part of designing a small garden is not what you put in, but what you leave out.
Put together a wish list... then prune it back. Hard.
Think carefully about your priorities, both from a functional and aesthetic point of view, and work out which items can be sacrificed or changed. Perhaps the lap pool could be replaced with a spa pool? And does that fancy fountain you coveted so much at the garden centre really work with the Japanese theme you’ve chosen, or would a small water bowl be a better option?
Successful small gardens are all about simplicity, balance and unity, with each element complementing the other.
This works on every level from construction materials to paint colours, plant choices and the shape of major elements such as lawns, decks and paving areas.
When every square centimetre counts, you have to be extra clever with your design. Built-in furniture will save space and seating can double as storage for tools and pots. Broaden the capping on raised beds and deck treads so they can also be used as seating; and widen that shell path so it can be put into play as a compact pe´ tanque court.
Think of the future too. If you’re putting in a sandpit for your toddlers, locate it in a sunny corner so that it can be conveniently converted into a raised bed or a formal water feature when they’re older. Build a playhouse with a high enough stud to use as a potting shed or a studio in years to come.
Repetition is an excellent design device to use to reinforce the sense of continuity between, say, a townhouse and its tiny backyard. This idea can be applied in a number of ways, such as repeating the construction materials and colour choices of your window joinery with a pergola or outdoor seating.
Even minor elements, such as patterned cushion fabrics or a collection of glazed pots, can provide a link between indoors and out. This also applies to small apartment balconies and roof gardens that are very closely connected spatially to the interior rooms.
Also, try to match the scale of a small garden’s major elements with the main rooms inside. This applies to the size of decks, paved terraces and lawns as well as the heights of vertical structures such as pergolas.
For more tips find a copy of NZ Gardener.
Landscape Design Project proposed for the 2016 Powerco Taranaki Garden Spectacular.