If you happen to have a small (or shall we say, compact) garden, here are some ideas on how you can make the most out of your garden space and transform it into an outdoor oasis that will look fantastic all year-round.
Follow the ‘less is more’ approach
For most homeowners, a garden is an essential breathing space, a place where you can absorb the fresh outdoors in your own private, secluded area. Unfortunately, if you live in somewhere like London, a large private garden can be regarded as something of a luxury in a city containing some of the costliest real estate on earth.
If your outdoor space is smaller than you would like it to be, try to retain as much usable space as possible. Avoid purchasing too many ornamental features, plants or other objects, as these will clutter your garden and will do little to enhance it.
Focus on precision
Consider lining your garden with thin fern trees or other plants to create a natural frame without taking up any additional recreational space. Evergreens are always a great choice because, as the name would suggest, they do not shed leaves in the autumn and remain colourful throughout the year.
Plan your garden of the future, not the present
If you decide to create new paths along your garden and border them with plants, make sure the paths are wide enough to accommodate the plants at their full size. Consider the time of year when planting new seeds and check that the species are suitable for your local climate.
For example, certain types of palm trees that can tolerate temperatures as low as -8 degrees Celsius will generally be suitable for most coastal communities and city centre locations in the UK, but not for more rural, inland areas like the Midlands or mid Wales, where winter temperatures can sometimes fall below this -8 degrees Celsius.
Make use of angles
Even in compact gardens, you can still admire your outdoor spaces from multiple viewpoints. Try to find space for seating in various areas of the garden so you can appreciate it from different angles. For example, if you are lucky enough to have a south-facing garden, consider adding a bench on the western side so you can capture the morning sun and another on the eastern side to enable you to make the most out of the evening sun.
Aim for diversity
Using the same plants or colour schemes can create monotonousness and will make your garden look plain and devoid of contrast. Choose plants in a variety of colours to give your garden some energy and vibrancy; this will help distract you from its small size. For example, you could supplement roses with sunflowers on one side and then plant a bed of different coloured tulips on the other to create an ‘explosion’ of colour.
Consider a water feature
While not everyone has the space for a large koi pond, a small water feature such as a mini-fountain or rock pool can become a great focal point for your garden and will be eye-catching. It will also create a natural habitat for local wildlife and provide an important water source for birds.
Find some extra inspiration online, in magazines or on TV
If you’re still looking for some inspiration for your future garden, consider browsing through gardening magazines specifically for small gardens. Some useful programmes to watch include the BBC’s ‘DIY SOS’ or Channel 4’s ‘Grand Designs’, both of which are regularly broadcast on daytime TV.
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Paul King is the founder of King & Co The Tree Nursery Limited which is the largest specialist tree nursery in the UK, based in Rayne Essex