Big ideas for small gardens

Houses in Britain are shrinking. According to new research, the size of UK homes has hit a record low, with an average of 67.8 square meters of living space compared to 83.3 square meters in the ‘70s.

As well as having less inside space to work with, small homes are also likely to lack square meters outside too. Having a small garden can feel limiting, particularly if you’re an ambitious gardener bursting with creative ideas or want to live al fresco in the summer.

However, just because you’re short on space, doesn’t mean you have to think small. From mini greenhouses to illusionary tactics, the garden experts at The Greenhouse People, are on hand to share their top tips for getting the most out of every square meter…

Plan your space well

Limited space doesn’t mean limited options. This is especially true if you take the time to plan your space properly.

Instead of being driven by trends which can be impractical, lean towards a classic layout which uses clean lines and symmetry to create the illusion of extra space.

Dividing a garden, even a compact one, often has the paradoxical effect of making it seem larger. Get creative and use different terrains - lawn, paving, decking, chippings and flowerbeds – to create clearly segmented areas.

Keep seating low for a cocooning effect and anchor corners with larger plants. Matching your outdoor furniture with the same décor theme in your kitchen or living room will help to blur the distinction between indoors and out.

Mirror, mirror

You might think installing a mirror outside is a no-go but it’s a clever way to trick the eye into thinking a space is larger than it is.

Place a weather-resistant mirror strategically on a side wall or fence to avoid reflecting the back of the house and encourage light in more shady corners. A garden mirror works best when it’s cleverly surrounded by foliage to keep up the illusion.

Window-effect mirrors can work particularly well but with any design, always make sure to place a mirror out of direct sunlight so you don’t end up accidentally starting a fire and fix it properly in place. No one wants 7 years bad luck!

Don’t count out a greenhouse

If your garden is on the small side, a greenhouse may seem out of the question. However, even the most compact space can accommodate one.

A cabinet-style or lean-to design can make the most of vertical wall space and greatly expand your horticultural horizons.

If thinking about where to store your tools is giving you a headache, try installing a wood-cladded or rattan storage box which can be used as a bench in the summer months with the addition of a few throw pillows. A lick of pastel paint will instantly make this a statement feature.

Pots of ideas

Pots are a small garden’s best friend, especially if you don’t have a lawn or flowerbeds.

Anything goes when grouping pots; mix up different heights, widths and materials to create a luscious corner. Plants which are happy in pots include palms, coleus, hydrangeas and hostas. 

There are plenty of creative ideas for space-saving statement features, like turning an old ladder into a showcase for your plant pots. All it might need is a lick of paint and hey presto!

Inventive ways to grow your own

Growing your own fruit and veg isn’t just rewarding, it’s also an eco-friendly way of making healthier life choices.

It’s a common misconception that you need acres of land to grow your own food. Portable containers, crates or pots are a great way to grow on any hard surface and chase the sunlight to maximise your yield. 

The clear winners in a small garden are lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, beans and Asian greens like Pak Choi. Connecting two beds with a decorative arbor creates aesthetic appeal and gives vines, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, or squash, a place to climb.

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