Small garden design tips

The small garden is a Lazy Susan favourite in terms of design and pleasure. Many people worry that they can’t do much with a small garden, but for us that’s the challenge and what makes the finished space so special. And to be honest, the opposite is usually true, no matter how small the space, you can still do a lot with a small space garden. Large gardens generally tend to visually need large areas of open empty patio or lawn space to make them work and so that they don’t look too fussy. Any small design details tend to get lost in a large open area too. However, with a small garden, you can often put in a lot more design details because everything is so small and close at hand.

Rose Bistro 2 Seater Garden Table

Any regular readers of the is blog will know that here at Lazy Susan we’re big advocates of the ‘outside room’ and for small gardens it is so appropriate. If you’re just about to start transforming a small space garden or backyard, rather than being daunted by the prospect, try simply just looking it as decorating another room in your house. That subtle shift in mindset will help you tackle it much more easily, you’ll automatically think about how you want to use the space and how you can decorate and furnish it.

The most important part of any design, be it inside or out, is the size or shape of the space you have available. Before you start, think about how you plan to use the space. You need to create shapes that link the entire garden together in a way that makes it look and feel larger and more appealing on the eye. Position is very important too. For example, design and locate your patio seating area where it is most likely to be used and take into account the time of day and ideally choose position that enjoys the sunny at that time.

How to make your small garden look bigger

According to the BBC, the average British garden is 90 square metres but many are a lot smaller (especially in urban areas) and require a more compact design to take full advantage of your outdoor space. The trick to getting the best from a small garden is planning and keeping your wish-list to your top priorities only. In a large garden you can accommodate things like a BBQ area or children’s play area. However, in a small garden, you may have to settle for a portable BBQ and think carefully about storage when you’re not using. Small family gardens are probably the hardest to design and plan as finding room for a play area is very tricky, especially as many of them items are so bulky.You can make an area look and feel much bigger than it really is with a little careful use of shapes and the right materials. Over the years we like to think the Lazy Susan team have picked up a few tips and tricks when it comes to garden design and the following is a list we’ve compiled that’ll help you create the perfect small garden:

  • Smaller paving makes area look larger
    Use small paving stones like setts or cobbles as this has the psychological effect of making the space seem larger. Using small size paving is a great way of tricking the eye into thinking the space is much bigger. The smaller the slab, the larger the quantity you will need to fill an area, but your eyes will trick your brain into thinking that because you can see a lot of paving, the area is much larger than it actually is. The opposite is also true. Use large paving in a small space and it will just accentuate the smallness of the space.
  • Garden planters
    So what if you haven’t got acres of land, you can grow fruit, veg, herbs and plants in planters too.
  • Bland ugly boundary walls must be tackled
    Blur the boundaries so you can’t tell where your garden ends and your neighbours begins. This is best done (budget permitting of course) by applying a render and for an even more fantastic result add a painted finish in your preferred colour to create a perfect ‘outdoor room’ look. This can also work on exposed brick, just get them sand blasted first for the perfect finish.
  • Garden table for two
    Make the most of your useable space by having a generously proportioned seating area. If space is tight on your decking or patio area, then a small, bistro style table and chairs might be the best option.
  • Multi-purpose or small space garden furniture
    You could also opt for multi-purpose garden furniture that doubles up as a storage unit. Choosing outdoor furniture that folds, stacks or come together as a cleaver cube such as the Lazy Susan Jill range when not in use is a great way to save on precious space in a compact garden.
  • Make your patio pretty
    So what if you don’t have a large patch of grass, just make your patio full of life. Grass is a nightmare to cut and maintain too. High walls associated with many backyards can also make you feel a little hemmed in, so disguise with furniture, shrubs and hang pretty baskets of flowers, tea lights and mobiles etc.
  • Low maintenance space
    Small gardens are ideal for those with busy lifestyles who simply don’t have the time for gardening. Consider paving the space, leaving a border around the outside for hardy low maintenance plants. This style is perfect for gardens that are south facing and encourages use of the outdoor space for socialising.
  • Location of garden buildings is critical
    Most gardens have garden sheds or old outhouses that often intrude not just the view and space. Knock them down or locate them in a position which is less intrusive, use planting to help screen but also lighter colours to provide a softer feel.
  • Add height
    If you’re limited with floor space, make your garden feel bigger by going up. Plant tall grasses, bamboo etc. Construct a trellis or arbour and plant climbing and trailing plants.
  • Window boxes
    Build window boxes and paint them in bright colours to add further colour to your garden and make use of the limited space you have. Plant them with a mixture of flowering and trailing plants to give them a more natural modern edge.
  • Tall plants
    Cover your walls and fences with colourful tall climbers which don’t take up valuable floor space. Hide surrounding buildings with tall plants such as ferns and bamboo.
  • Bright furniture
    Eye catching bright furniture, feature wall and parasol give a sense of fun to this smaller garden.
  • Colour is so important
    Paint exterior walls in cool shades like lilac and blue, as these are recessive colours that can help walls look as though they are further away. And opt for fencing that is not solid otherwise it can make a space feel boxed in.
  • Mirrors work too
    Carefully placed mirrors will have a similar effect.
  • Atmospheric deck lighting
    Create the right mood with built in patio lighting. Highlight the area you like best with these carefully placed deck lights.
  • Start with the Basics
    With a small space we would advise that you have just one material covering the ground. This will help to create a sense of flow. Instead of having patches of grass, bits of decking and a patio area, pick one, otherwise your small garden can end up looking too fussy and cluttered.
  • Focus on one garden feature
    A small garden doesn’t mean a boring garden but it is advisable to stick to one main feature to make sure your garden doesn’t feel overcrowded. Again, consider what it is you want from your garden and work from there.
  • Decide on the details
    Once the basis of your small garden is formed, it’s time to think about the details. In smaller gardens every detail counts because they will be all the more noticeable, so it is worth carefully considering. The following details can help to personalise your garden and tie it all together: garden lighting, garden ornaments, outdoor soft furnishings, or a bird table
  • Look to the past
    If your garden is square, a classic courtyard-style garden is perfect. If it’s long and thin, put curves along its length and partially sub-divide it.
  • Pay attention to the details
    And finally, it’s always important but it’s absolutely vital in the small garden.

The key is to make a small garden feel bigger. Carefully plan your design and with a little hard work you can deliver the desired effect of a stylish contemporary space that can accommodate outdoor dining, structural planting, a number of different seating opportunities and a degree of privacy from the surrounding properties. The end result should be understated and effective, and a space that should be easy to live with for years to come, whilst not too minimalist as to be unchanging or lacking energy. By virtue of the compact size, small gardens are generally much more visible, and just like the old saying ” good goods come in small parcels, similarly designing and landscaping smaller gardens present various challenges if they are to be transformed and to excite the senses. Careful and imaginative consideration can combine effectively to create exciting results  and a garden which is readily appealing, practical to use and a pleasure to enjoy.

About Lazy Susan

About Lazy Susan

Lazy Susan is a small family business that specialise exclusively in wicker, rattan and metal garden furniture, specifically cast aluminium. Visit to find out more and view our complete product range.

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