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How to Make the Most of Small Gardens

Create your very own urban jungle...

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Amazing gardens shouldn’t be exclusive to country piles – experts reveal how you can bring even the smallest green spaces to life. 

Kay Maguire and Tony Woods

1. Best-laid plans

Just because the garden is small, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make a plan. It is in fact even more important so you grasp the scale before you get carried away at the garden centre. When designing a roof terrace, for example, the first consideration should be access, you might need a structural engineer.

2. Every little helps

All surfaces can be ‘greened’ – grow climbers up walls, or plant them up with hanging pots and green wall kits. Grow sedums on the shed roof and hang baskets from the eaves. If your garden is paved, lift a few odd slabs, add compost and plant these pockets with plants or fast-growing veg.

Small Spaces Garden Pond

Add greenery to every surface, even around water features

3. Pick of the plants

Evergreen shrubs might not seem exciting but choose carefully and you can create a low maintenance oasis that is drought and pollution tolerant. Low growing ground cover plants such as geraniums, periwinkle (vinca) and viper’s bugloss (ajuga) are also brilliant if you are short on time.

4. Raise the roof

Roof terraces need plants that can cope with exposed windy conditions. Look for tough shrubs like euonymus, griselinia and sambucus nigra, low growing plants that cling to the ground such as alchemilla mollis, and perennials that have flexible stems. Verbena bonariensis looks lovely blowing in the wind.

Small Spaces Garden Terrace

Choose plants that require little attention

5. Create consistent boundaries

Even if you have different types of materials, such as a mix of brick walls and old fence panels owned by different neighbours, try painting in a neutral shade to create harmony.

TOP TIP: You can grow most fruit and veg in pots. Quick cropping veg like salads, carrots, spinach and beetroot can be sown regularly, through the growing season for a continuous harvest. You can grow apples and cherries from special dwarf rootstocks. Look for varieties that can be specifically grown in containers and always plant in the biggest pot.

Francine Raymond

Francine Raymond

Bill Mason

Ever dreamed of having a smallholding but haven’t had the gumption (or space) to do it? The true life stories in Francine Raymond’s My Tiny Home Farm prove it is possible, even in tight spaces. It has advice on small practical projects so you can dip your toe in the water, from something as easy as making fruit leathers from surplus crops to more ambitious projects like making a dust bath for chickens or building a bee hotel, £14.99. 

Patrick Blanc

Small Garden Tips & Ideas Patrick Blanc

Indoor vertical garden in Patrick Blanc home after four years of growth

‘Small city gardens often receive limited sunlight and shade loving plants usually grow well in small gardens. Mostly architectural foliage plant species will work best, but many shade lovers have also beautiful flowers.’

MORE INTERIORS: How to Make the Most of Small Homes / These are the Best Gardens in the World