Whether you’re a first time buyer or you’ve decided to downsize, it’s likely that your new home will come with a small garden. Some people may be happy with a smaller space as long as there’s somewhere to entertain; others will want to know how to best make use of their small backyard for gardening. If you’re looking for some inspiration on how to turn your compact outdoor space into the garden of your dreams, read on for our top ten tips.
1. MAKE A PLAN
Before you start to work on your garden, make a plan! Draw your garden to scale and get your ideas down on paper. Begin with hard landscaping like patios, decking, and paths, before adding in plants. Focus on the things that will give you most visual pleasure, bearing in mind the climate, size, orientation, and topography of your garden – not to mention your overall budget. It will soon become apparent whether you can fit in all your ideas or if you need to scale back your plans to avoid overcrowding.
2. CHOOSE YOUR COLOURS WISELY
Small spaces tend to work best if you limit your palette to a few complementary colours. Whether you choose bright, bold plants or you prefer more muted hues, keeping your colour choices to a minimum will give the garden a more cohesive feel. Bright, colourful plants at the front of the garden will also help to give the illusion of space, as the more subdued colours will fade into the background.
3. DIVIDE YOUR SPACE INTO SEPARATE AREAS
In dividing your garden into distinct areas you’ll give the impression that there’s more space than there actually is. Different areas can be formed by grouping plants of one type together, building a paved or decked seating area, creating different levels, or simply adding a focal point.
4. BUILDING A SEATING PLACE
Whether you choose to build a patio to accommodate a large dining table, or you prefer to tuck a wooden bench under a small pergola, having a designated seating area can add a sense of structure to your small back garden. Don’t forget to include some shade to help cope with the Australian sun!
5. SCALE DOWN YOUR LANDSCAPING
When faced with limited space, it’s best to choose small scale hard landscaping such as blocks, small paving slabs, or pebbles. If possible, keep fences low or more open, to give the illusion of more space.
6. CREATE A FOCAL POINT
This can be something as simple as a long straight path that narrows towards the end, an eye catching water feature, or a specimen plant or distinctive tree. It’s all about giving the eyes something to focus on so that the rest of the garden fades to the background.
7. IT’S ALL ABOUT ILLUSION
Making your space look bigger is about creating an illusion, and there are many ways to achieve this, from choosing smaller plants to placing mirrors at strategic points around the garden. Remember to choose plants that don’t outgrow their planting positions and if necessary, choose miniature versions of your favourites.
8. KEEP IT NEAT AND TIDY
Unless you’re going for a casual and informal cottage garden feel, it’s important to keep small gardens neat and tidy. It’s easier to notice dead or overgrown plants, broken containers, and unkempt lawns in a small space.
9. ADD OUTDOOR LIGHTING
Outdoor lighting will not only enable you to use the garden after the sun has gone down, but will also help deter burglars while adding an aesthetic element, too. There are many energy efficient garden lighting systems available, including solar powered lighting, which can be used for both ambience or highlighting a focal point.
10. MAKE IT AN EXTENSION OF YOUR LIVING SPACE
By using similar natural tones and textures, you can create a seamless transition from your living space to your garden, giving the illusion that it’s one continuous space.