Urban Courtyard for Entertaining: modern Garden by Bestall & Co Landscape Design Ltd

Small garden ideas on a budget—top 10

Amy Buxton Amy Buxton
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Today we're looking at some of the best small garden ideas out there and we hope that it will inspire you to look at your balcony, courtyard or front lawn a little differently.

No longer will not having enough space be an excuse for letting your small garden go to waste. Take a look at what we think are some of the most fantastic ideas around and see if any of them could work for you!

10. The perfect social spot

When you have a small garden it can be easy to get disheartened that it won't ever win anything at Kew! We think you should just focus on the plus points though.

Take this super little space, as an example. The space is not huge or all that sunny, so growing glorious blooms might be out, but a fabulous, high end barbecue system looks perfect! Try to keep your friends away from here, we dare you!

9. Take the focus off the size

Built in seating & benches:  Garden  by Paul Newman Landscapes
Paul Newman Landscapes

Built in seating & benches

Paul Newman Landscapes

As with anything that you'd like to be bigger, don't make a big sing and dance about the small size it is.

When it comes to our best small gardens list, we had to include this gorgeous example of how fantastic a diminutive space can look. By taking the focus away from the size and putting it firmly on function, this outdoor seating area is not only meeting all expectations, it is surpassing them with style.

8. Build up, not out

Open-Plan Kitchen/Living Room, Ladbroke Walk, London : modern Garden by Cue & Co of London
Cue & Co of London

Open-Plan Kitchen/Living Room, Ladbroke Walk, London

Cue & Co of London

If you don't have the space to build out and do something super fancy with your garden, take inspiration from this example.

We love how the height of the space has been put to good use, with climbers growing up the lovely teak fencing. We forget this is a tiny courtyard when we look at it because we are too busy coveting the finished product.

7. Keep it interesting

Small Garden with a Very Steep Slope: modern Garden by Yorkshire Gardens
Yorkshire Gardens

Small Garden with a Very Steep Slope

Yorkshire Gardens

Small doesn't have to mean boring and this is even more pertinent when it comes to a garden. There is so much potential to unleash your creativity and it doesn't have to be about plants or lawns.

Just look at these terrific gabion baskets! They are turning this small area into a real eye-catching piece of external architecture and we love it! This would be a simple DIY project too.

6. Break up the decking

modern Garden by homify
homify

Small garden extension

homify

You might be thinking that this is a little ordinary to make it into our best small gardens list but we are simply bringing you examples that we think should really inspire and it's the broken up decking that we love here. 

Instead of a monolithic slab of wood taking up the whole space, with pretty cut outs designed to allow plants to sprout up, we think this garden is the perfect combination of social and green.

5. Stagger the levels

We really love the impact that this staggered garden has and it's so impressive that you can easily forget just how small the space actually is.

Essentially, you are tricking your mind into seeing more than there is and altering perception, which is a brave enough move to secure this spot a place in our best small gardens list. What a super contrast the lawn sections are against the paving and flower beds!

4. Add beautiful lighting

Garden design and build patio, Bicester, Oxfordshire: classic Garden by Decorum . London
Decorum . London

Garden design and build patio, Bicester, Oxfordshire

Decorum . London

When your garden is small and you don't want to have to tend too much, we think you can take a leaf out of this super example, if you'll excuse pun.

With a few statement trees and shrubs in place, the outdoor lighting is making easy work of turning this space into a really beautiful spot. Plus, the most you'll ever have to do to maintain it is change a bulb or two. Perfect!

3. Try up top

London garden roof-top terace: modern Garden by Decorum . London
Decorum . London

London garden roof-top terace

Decorum . London

If you have absolutely no space for any kind of garden on the ground floor, why not try to create a roof terrace? We have included this chic and fabulous example in our list as, although it has been built on the roof, it is most definitely still this property's version of a garden.

Some easy to trim shrubs give a nice amount of privacy, while decking keeps the floor easy to maintain too. Small gardens have never been so exclusive!

2. Play with shapes

Don't you think that this small front garden is really sweet? It adds a certain something to the house that a plain lawn just wouldn't. However, it's only a bit of shaping that has made such a difference!

We included this garden to show you that a little imagination can have a big impact and we think the contrast of pale gravel with luscious green grass looks fantastic.

1. Just use it!

This might be the smallest garden of all the ones we have shown you today but look at it! It's still being used, it looks great, and it offers much needed outdoor space that can come at a real premium in built up urban areas. 

It's great to see the owners just getting on with things and using it as an al fresco dining spot and, with pale wood walls and some well placed foliage, we think it is charming.

For more garden inspiration, take a look at this Ideabook: 13 Common Front Garden Mistakes You MUST Avoid.

Which of these designs was your favourite?
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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