We’ve chatted to the experts, scoured the archives, and sought out the most inspirational small garden designs. You may not be blessed with a huge outdoor space but that’s not to say you can’t be creative with what you do have. With a little design know-how even the smallest back lawn, the most petite of patios or the tiniest of balconies can become an enjoyable place in which to spend time. Trick the eye with a colour scheme or clever use of lighting, make a feature of foliage, or simply adorn the small space with inviting accessories. Look no further, we have all the small garden ideas you need.
Having a small garden doesn’t mean you can’t make use of the space. onefinestay’s East 51st Townhouse owners has used atmospheric lanterns and delicate fairy lights to create a cosy dining area
The tiny courtyard at the home of the interior designer Helen Green comprises of simple but elegant touches: a trellis of roses, a feature stone water plinth and plants potted in a variety of vessels, from wooden crates to wicker baskets and pewter milk pails.
Full-length bi-fold doors create a seamless meeting of the interior and exterior at this nineteenth-century Kensington townhouse and using similarly toned flooring adds to this continuous effect – a clever trick with colour that creates the illusion of space.
The trick to making use of any small space is to consider how every inch might work practically. Here, a sheltered spot provides the perfect dining area (because, let’s face it, alfresco dinners can often be interrupted by rain showers) and the Juliet balcony offers support to a rattan swing chair.
The brief for this Regent’s Park garden, designed by Kate Gould, was a year-round green space with a ‘hint of Portofino’. Neatly clipped buxus hedging, potted olive trees, lavender plants and a striking cobbled mosaic floor combine to create exactly this effect.
This townhouse garden off Portobello Road provides a sanctuary from the bustling streets of Notting Hill. With the dining area situated on the roof terrace, the garden has been simply, symmetrically designed for pure visual pleasure; a mock Roman bust takes centre stage. If you’re unable to take your alfresco dining elsewhere, opt for fold-up or portable tables and chairs, which can be easily removed when you want your garden to function solely as a beautiful green space.
Consider a colour scheme. According to garden designer Marcus Barnett, colour can be used to blur the boundary between inside and outside, creating a sense of space. Similar colours can form a visual link between interior and exterior.
Symmetry will always be visually appealing, and the lines of this Notting Hill garden beautifully mirror the curved elements of the house. A similarly symmetrical scheme would work well in a much smaller garden: just like in the home, maintaining order avoids the sense of an overly cluttered space and often creates a feeling of calm.
If your urban garden is the tiniest of balconies, do not despair. Embrace the pot plant (you could even grow your own herbs), choose a pretty fold-up café-style table and chairs and make a feature of your railings with entwining vines. Voila! A green oasis a few floors up.