Save or share your favourite rooms

You can save this room using your browser bookmarks, social media or email

Transform a Small Garden into a Little Piece of Paradise

Try these simple ways to maximise space in your garden

Rachel Homer

Rachel Homer

Interiors Writer

Trick the eye

With space at a premium in city areas, create an illusion of space with a contemporary mirror panel. Use it to visually double the amount of space you have and increase light levels in darker corners. Choose long sheet mirror to keep the look urban and complement with contemporary linear fencing. Enhance the sense of privacy with ornamental grasses, potted evergreens and climbing plants. 

Build a cool cabana 

Create a spot of shade in your small garden with a homemade sun lounger - a few square feet, budget materials and your imagination are all you need. Take two branches, two pallets, and a fabric offcut and assemble them to create a bohemian lounger for two. Make it comfortable and inviting with a bolster in funky geometric fabric. If your garden is dominated by the overhang of a tree, angle the fabric so that it can also act as a canopy, protecting the area below.

 

 
Modern Architectural Garden with Mixed Patio Decking
Photo credit: Annaick Guitteny for Homes & Gardens

Save or share your favourite rooms

You can save this room using your browser bookmarks, social media or email

Mix your media 

Make a small space attractive and ensure a crisp contemporary look with strong landscaped lines. Create interesting interlocking zones with distinctive materials, such as woodstained decking, pale patio slabs and decorative stones or chippings. Then plant up to let lush foliage burst through, filling the space with structural greenery for a controlled finish that’s easy to maintain. 

 

 
Modern Architectural Garden with Built-in Play House
Photo credit: Annaick Guitteny for Homes & Gardens

Save or share your favourite rooms

You can save this room using your browser bookmarks, social media or email

Make room for little ones

Come up with an ingenious small space that will appeal to both the design conscious and the fun conscious. Build a playhouse that blends seamlessly with the garden perimeter - here, contemporary linear fencing. Finish off the camouflage effect with a sedum roof so the little house blends perfectly into its environment. Store brightly coloured furniture inside so it's easy to take out for play time and return again when not in use. 

 
Chalet Balcony with Wood Decking and Seating
Photo credit: Mark Luscombe-Whyte for 25 Beautiful Homes

Save or share your favourite rooms

You can save this room using your browser bookmarks, social media or email

Try chalet chic

Create a smart decked area with the look of a chalet balcony. Choose pale wood to boost the sense of space and furnish for a chic outdoor living room feel. Position a teak modular sofa centrally and make the space social with complementary Adirondack-style chairs. Connect with nature and frame the balcony with sculptured evergreens in organic box planters. 

 
Courtyard Garden with Living Wall
Photo credit: James Merrell for Homes & Gardens

Save or share your favourite rooms

You can save this room using your browser bookmarks, social media or email

Aim high

Turn a small courtyard into a lush habitat with a tactile and towering living wall. Plant up a natural focal point for a super contemporary way to add interest while keeping much-needed floor space clear for patio slabs and super-sociable seating. Balance the domineering wall with a trio of large pots with small fruit trees and bedding plants. 

 
Japanese-style Patio Garden with Bench
Photo credit: Annaick Guitteny for Homes & Gardens

Save or share your favourite rooms

You can save this room using your browser bookmarks, social media or email

Focus on furniture

Place objects of interest at the end of your garden and create the illusion that your space is bigger than it is. Choose white garden furniture and position it towards the back of a paved area. Play hide and seek by strategically planting large shrubs to partially obstruct the view; your mind will think there is more beyond to see. Add interest with plants at all heights and in all areas - with climbers and ramblers, evergreen shrubs, sculptural grasses and ground cover, all enlivened by colour-heavy cottage-garden favourites such as foxglove and delphinium.

 
Formal Garden with Classic English Lawn
Photo credit: Annaick Guitteny for Homes & Gardens

Save or share your favourite rooms

You can save this room using your browser bookmarks, social media or email

Simplify with symmetry

Be inspired by formal gardens to bring organisation to a small space. Design a classic layout with a central lawn and symmetrical borders for a garden that feels elegant and formal, spacious and organised. Use planting to draw the eye to a central element, such as the brick port-hole window shown here. Line brick paths with classic lavender and the pink and purple spires of foxglove. Here, trained plane trees and lollipop standards add the final flourish. 

 
Modern Garden with Concrete Patio and Pot Plants
Photo credit: Matthew Williams for Livingetc

Save or share your favourite rooms

You can save this room using your browser bookmarks, social media or email

Revive an under-used space

Even the smallest of areas can be turned into a decorative outdoor space. Enhance yours with a run of  stepped concrete slabsand use a narrow rustic-style table or bench to create a central focal point. Keep the look chic and low-maintenance with shingle, clipped topiary and flowering plants in orange and yellow. Add elegance with aluminium and stone planters and carefully chosen pieces, such as the oversized lantern and unusual bird sculptures. 

 
Modern Conservatory with Mid-century Furniture
Photo credit: James Merrell for Livingetc

Save or share your favourite rooms

You can save this room using your browser bookmarks, social media or email

Go tropical 

When you have a small internal courtyard or outside space, leave the wow factor to the plants. Look for tropical varieties hardy enough to withstand the vagaries of the British weather and plant up your own jungle oasis. Add instant drama with towering palms, strappy phormium and cordyline and feather-leaved tree ferns like dicksonia. Be aware that some may need a bit of protection over the winter and add slate chippings to help retain moisture in the summer and make maintenance easier.