Small IS beautiful! A small space isn't the gardening disadvantage that you might think. There are so many people who are put off from buying properties with tiny gardens or courtyards. Let's face it, most average modern houses are set in small plots. But even the most enthusiastic of gardeners can gain great benefits compared to those with big gardens. So why should a small garden NOT curb your affection for a home?
A diminutive outside space can result in an extraordinary passion, even for former 'non-gardeners'! It's all about manageability, creativity and imaginative thinking.
Small spaces often prove to be more satisfying than larger plots because a gardener can manipulate, engineer and nurture every square centimetre of space to his or her liking. This would be an impossible aspiration in a large garden without an army of regular helpers and a tree that grows money. It is feasible to maintain a small plot in a weekend. A spare half an hour, put to good use, will make a big impact, whereas the same amount of time in a large plot will go virtually unnoticed.
Firstly, look beyond the boundaries and think outside of the box. Most gardens have a patio, a lawn and flower beds and this is probably what you will inherit with the house. If you have some steps, you are already onto a winner!
Changes in levels are interesting, as are areas that make you want to explore. If you can see all your small garden at a single glance, it represents rather a dull space.
Disguising the fence is a good place to start in a small garden. Any vertical surface can provide interesting growing potential and now is the time to clothe them in climbers, wall shrubs or even hanging plants. The fence below is nice enough, but looks much better when there are plants climbing over it.
Pop up a few bird boxes too, as the wildlife will enjoy making a home in amongst the climbing stems. For the more adventurous there are also vertical green wall systems complete with planting pockets in which to create a truly artistic display. When covering a fence, you could build in the illusion of a doorway or window leading to further space. Garden Mirrors are a great way to bounce some light around and provide a little magic. Make sure that only small areas of mirror show, however, as birds tend to fly into them.
Raised beds filled with planting that obscures some of the garden beyond makes the entire garden far more interesting. The same applies to installing garden obelisks and even the use of structural plants. All these different elements encourage the eye to roam around the garden. A carefully positioned archway, for example, can lead the mind towards exploration.
Then there's the lawn. Some people decide to do without one, and there is good argument for doing so in a small garden. However, you really need to ensure that you fill the space with interest rather than hard surfaces that are no good for man nor beast.
Others like a green lawn mantle because it's a visual pleasure and provides a natural backdrop for plants; it offers potential for games and gives access to different areas too. The smell of freshly mown lawn is not to be sniffed at either! Make it an interesting shape but avoid fussy curves and intricate shapes. Interlocking rectangles or circles, an oval or ribbon of lawn can be highly effective in a small space. It's well known but not always well remembered that large shapes in a small space make the scale seem bigger.
Whilst a focal point is always useful, in a small space it's not helpful to have too many. If you have a penchant for garden statues, for example, keep all but one well-hidden so you catch only a glimpse when you are looking closely. It's far more intriguing to position statues behind planting rather than having several un-related items dotted randomly around the garden.
The same principle goes for water features which are far more effective when they blend naturally into the small garden rather than appearing to have fallen from the sky! You might want something such as a bench, framed by planting, positioned in a visual focal point in order to provide a logical destination. It continues the theme of a journey and can be highly effective, even in the smallest of spaces.