Making the most of small gardens

In the past few weeks I’ve been working on some garden designs for small city gardens in Edinburgh. In each case the client has asked me how they can maximise the space to get the most use and enjoyment out of their garden. It’s a question I’m often asked, so I thought I’d share these top tips:

City garden sketch
  • Compartmentalise – divide the space into separate ‘rooms’ using planting, obelisks or trellis panels.  If you can’t see the whole garden in one view it will give the impression of being larger than it is, encouraging you to explore further.
  • Use diagonals – if you’re changing the garden layout and are replacing paving lay it on a diagonal relative to the house to give longer sight lines through the garden and create the illusion of space.
  • Green the vertical surfaces with climbers or wall mounted planters – this maximises the planted area and hiding the boundaries makes their proximity seem less obvious.
  • Don’t be afraid to use trees – these can help with the common problem of being overlooked by neighbours.  Canopy trees make a real statement but don’t take up so much space at ground level.
  • Small gardens are often shady – hostas and ferns create a vivid green foliage palette in the shadiest of spaces.  Seasonal colour can be added with perennials like Astrantia, Bergenia or Hellebores.
  • Reflective surfaces and light colours are great for reflecting the light within a small space – this might be a mirror fixed to a boundary wall, a sparkling water feature, light coloured paving or glazed pots.
  • Choose garden furniture that can be left outside all year round so you don’t have to think about incorporating storage space.  Hardwood furniture will last well.
  • Using pots and containers allows you to add seasonal interest – their flexibility allows you to vary the look of the garden through the year.

Please get in touch if you’d like more advice specific to your garden needs.

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