A formal or informal garden? You decide which style is for you.
Formal gardens tend to be laid out to be tidy and geometric appealing to people who are concerned with controlling the garden and what Facebook "friends" will think of the photos. With many straight lines made up of shapes such as squares, triangles, or rectangles with clipped hedges and rigid planting plans. Formal garden design plans use features such as stone or topiary spheres or cubes as 3-dimensional interest. Features will be made of shiny metal, concrete or plastics. In larger gardens as you get further out from the house, the garden can become more informal. However, this mix of formal and informal design does not work quite so well in small gardens.
With informal gardens the design is looser and generally uses only natural materials. The lines are softer and more fluid made up of organic curves and the planting is much more relaxed. Informal gardens Informal gardens are more relaxed and less pretentious. This, however, does not make them easier to plan or maintain!
That's the paved area you will need if you don't want your guests toppling off the edge of your patio. It's not the wine its the design!
Lighter coloured paving work best in small garden. Dark heavy colours can make the garden look even smaller. Using a mix of small sizes and varied shaped paving stones or cobbles has the effect of making the space seem larger.
It's tempting to try to save space, by making the patio just large enough for a table and chairs. However, a good size patio even in a small garden also means you will have room for flowerpots and containers full of scented flowers.
Tall trees and fences will provide privacy, but will also reduce or cut out light in a small garden. Planting large trees, tall hedges or erecting high fencing will provide privacy. However, they may overwhelm a small garden casting too much shade making it difficult to grow plants (or sunbathe). Plants get energy from light and how much they get affects the growth of the plant. Without any light, plants would not be able to grow.
Small square or oblong gardens
If you are starting from scratch plan to divide your square garden up into different areas of texture, shape and colour I/e a circular lawn, light colour paving and earth for planting. Divide the areas up with simple curved boundaries avoiding straight lines. A really visually attractive and interesting garden path that also creates a boundary is to design one that sweeps around one side of the circular lawn.
If space allows build in a bit of mystery by using trellis or hedging at the furthest edge of the garden to blur the garden boundary. It will make the garden look bigger "what's behind that"? Maybe a hidden sitting areas or your compost heap.
Long narrow garden.
If your garden is long and narrow and many of us have one, especially, if we live in town. You can probably have almost everything you want in your garden. A patio, paths, flower borders, a lawn, a pond, a vegetable patch, a greenhouse, a shed and a wildlife area.
There are, however, a few basic guidelines to bear in mind.
Following these guidelines when planning a long narrow garden. You should have room to fit in the other stuff you want, a pond, a vegetable patch, a greenhouse, a shed and a wildlife area.
What is a focal point?
A focal point is simply something that attracts the eye. Creating a focal point can add interest and structure. A focal point can also draw your eye and visitors eyes away from something you don't like in your small garden, Particularly useful if you are not starting with a Blank Canvas. You might be left with a raised manhole in the middle of the lawn or patio.
You don't have to have a focal point, but if you think it might work for you, it's best to plan it in from the beginning. A focal point doesn't have to be large, but must be something you like and be eye-catching. Thinking about the raised manhole. Try a wooden container big enough to cover the manhole planted with herbs. It would make a lovely scented focal point and cover the manhole.
"too much clutter will make a small garden look even smaller"
Tall trees and fences provide privacy, but cut out light in a small garden.
"Small light coloured slabs can make a small garden look and feel bigger"
Getting the patio size right.
One of the biggest mistakes made when planning and designing small gardens is underestimating the size of the patio
To keep this short and readable I have included links to my other articles for the more technical stuff.
Choosing plants for a small garden need not be difficult. List about five of the plant varieties you have always wanted or maybe grew in your previous garden. Plus any plants already in the garden that you may have liked and dug out to save for replanting. (Too many different plant varieties can be overwhelming in a small garden, you can always add more later). Position them in the space you plan to plant them and see how it looks. Once you are happy with the positioning, for the best visual effect, plant each variety together in groups of three or four.
The colours you have in your garden say a lot about you. (What flowers say about you)
Less is best in a small garden. Try to stick to three or four of your favourite plant
colours, especially in the first year of planting. You can always add more colour next season. In addition to colour, mix in a variety of textures and variegated,
coloured or lacy foliage to give the garden depth. If you include spring bulbs in your planting plan they will extend the season in a small garden.
How much space do plants need in a small garden?
Obviously, the smaller the space, the less plants you can have in it. A small garden, like a small room in your home, will look cluttered if there is too much diversity of planting and colour.
The number of plants will depend on the size of the flower
borders and the space each plant needs. If you want your garden to look mature and full in the first year, plant closely or buy larger plants. Better and cheaper to
be patient and allow your garden to fill in slowly.
Planting space guidelines
6- 12" spread - 2 plants per sq. ft.
12 - 24" spread - 1 plant per sq. ft.
Larger than 24" spread - 1 plant per 2 sq. feet
These are guidelines, experiment and have fun with spacing your plants.
Make the most of the tips on these pages and begin to utilise the limited space you have in a small garden. You might end up with kitchen herbs growing next to Hollyhocks, but there's
one thing for sure you will be getting the most from your small garden. Growing your own vegetables tips here growing your own
Growing Vegetables in containers is a great way to get the most out of limited space in a small garden.