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Small garden design

Alissa Ugolini—homify UK Alissa Ugolini—homify UK
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Designing within the confines of a small spaces encourages us to be creative and to think outside the box. In fact, you are not limited, nor will you have to sacrifice good design just because you lack square metres. The initial stages are often longer and more time consuming, however, you will find that the end result will be a well-thought, well-planned example of garden design, instead finding yourself grappling with ways to fill various voids. You will also discover and investigate solutions you may not have considered before, opening up a world of possibility for practical decorative elements and storage features.

Landscape designers and architects are well versed in dealing with small areas and are loaded with space maximising ideas. At homify, we always recommend consulting an expert for advice first. If, however, you are decorating on a budget and will complete the design yourself, we suggest, with the help of a partner, that you make a scaled drawing of your outdoor space, and factor in any furniture, decoration and greenery that you want to add. Don't rush off any buy anything, no matter how in love you've fallen, before you've considered how it will fit into the space. That may turn out to be your most expensive, and biggest downfall.

Today, we are going to look at some stunning examples of small garden design, that will hopefully fill you with ideas and inspiration for your own space.

The entertainer

If you prefer an outdoor area to serve an entertainment purpose only, it is only fitting that you would consider the space that you do have to incorporate a table, chairs and cooking area above anything else. The designers have nicely tied the barbecue unit in together with the door frames by painting them both a stunning shade of slate grey. This tone complements the warm brown of the table and the luscious green provided by the small, but well maintained hedges. During the warmer months, you can just imagine spending hours with your family and friends in this neat and contemporary outdoor space. 


Inner city living often means we have to sacrifice the amount of greenery we see on a day to day basis. There is only so much you can grow in pot plants, and only so much that will survive the repertoire of a busy lifestyle. This wonderful example shows an albeit slightly overgrown, yet eclectic example of compact outdoor life. In this space, you can truly forget you are living within the confines of a big city, and relax either alone or in company in this lush and spirited outdoor setting. Green walls (pictured to the right of the photo), are a great way to add plant life to your apartment. A fairly uncomplicated and painless feature to install, you just need to ensure that you water it regularly otherwise your green wall will turn into an unpleasant brown wall! 

Tropical tranquility

A large variety of tropical plants have been adapted to cooler climatic conditions so that you can still experience a bit of the exotic in the far Northern hemisphere. Ferns are one of the oldest plants in existence, surviving the meteor shower that wiped out the Dinosaurs. It comes as absolutely no surprise that if they can survive a post-apocalyptic scene of temperature extremes, they can withstand the chill and frost that comes with living in the UK. Ferns comes in a huge range of different styles from fan shaped to large leafed. Then, when planed in conjunction with some other hardy tropical flowers like Bird of Paradise and Red King Humbert, you can be sure that your summer garden will be the envy of your friends and reminiscent of a tropical escape. 

Unusually shaped

You may have a large block, but instead of a big garden, you are presented with unusually shaped pockets of land around the property. As pictured, this sloping landscape can make garden decoration a little more difficult. What we would encourage in this situation, is to take advantage of the typography, and play with levels and hierarchy to create an interesting and visually stunning space. The designer has cleverly placed boulders and terracotta jugs around the garden, sectioning off different areas with the use of colour. This creates an illusion of levels and definition, and is extremely playful and appealing to view.  

Maximise space

Installing ample storage is a pivotal factor when designing small spaces. Inside, you can hide away various elements that are only required when you have guests, or seasonal decorations. These pillows for example, would not fare well during the winter months, and so, when summer draws to a close, you can easily store them away and they will be ready in pristine condition for next year. You can also see how this storage unit has inbuilt planter boxes—this is an innovative and fun way to grow you herbs and evergreen plants year round. The last simple, but functional decoration are these baskets. Small, and extremely practical, these ornamental elements allow you to change and spruce up your space each season, or as often as your heart desires.  

Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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