Seven big ideas for tiny plots
Make the most of your space with Kay Maguire’s seven ways to give a small patch the wow factor
Even the smallest garden can be gorgeous − you just have to be clever with the space available. Here we share seven tricks of the trade used by garden designers to make a plot feel bigger than it really is. Not only do they give the illusion of more space, they also help you fit more in, so although your garden may be small, your gardening ambitions should have no limits.
Break up the space
It might seem odd to divide a small space into even smaller areas, but it is a classic trick designers use to make an area look and feel bigger. Not being able to see the whole garden at once makes it difficult to quantify a space, and hiding even just a corner from view with a cleverly placed container or large shrub is enough to make us want to see more, and believe that there is something else to come, just out of sight.
Make seating more useful
Having somewhere to sit and relax in the garden is a vital feature for most of us, but when space is lacking even the furniture needs to multitask. Use benches or box seating that can double up as tool storage or a space to keep children’s toys. Or make the edges to raised beds high enough and wide enough so they can also be comfortable spots to perch – add cushions to complete your seat.
Blur the boundaries
Used well, the walls and fences around your garden can transform the way it looks and how big it feels. Painting or staining them in darker colours, such as black, navy or grey, makes a space feel bigger by creating a sense of depth. It will help the boundaries to recede and blend in with the world beyond your garden, making them appear further away than they really are.
Reflect the light
A well-placed mirror will make your space feel bigger and brighter instantly. Help it blend in by planting around the base and edges, and angle it so that it reflects planting or a water feature rather than a wall or path. Opt for an aged or mottled mirror that will create less distinct reflections, giving the illusion of space but avoiding the risk of birds flying into it. Choose a mirror where the glass is partially obscured to further reduce the risk.
Using height in a small space leads the eye upwards and helps to expand our view of the garden and make it feel larger. In a small garden, the temptation is to restrict yourself to small plants, but this can make the garden feel cluttered. A strategically placed tree or tall shrub, obelisk, statue or structure such as an arch will help to break up a space into different areas to make it feel bigger.
Grow up walls
Clothing vertical spaces, such as walls and fences, in plants will increase your growing area without taking up too much space on the ground. They will also help soften hard edges, blending them with the surroundings. Climbers are the easiest way to do this, with trellis or horizontal wires stretched across your wall or fence to train them onto. A scented climber, such as this star jasmine, is within sniffing distance next to a seat.
Plant in nooks
Making the most of every inch of space is key when your garden is small and although it may not be obvious, there is growing space everywhere. Choose plants that can cope with the dry or shady conditions beneath your seating or within the cracks in paving and walls, or create planting space in unusual places by using the changes of level in-between the steps up to a deck.
gardenersworld.com April 2018
April 2018 gardenersworld.com