Big help for small gardens, written by Julia Neustein, Managing Director of Interior Motives.

Small gardens have some of their own special design rules. Less space doesn’t mean less work. If anything, it means more focus on detail and resisting the temptation to add too much variety. Generally small area gardens are ‘boxed in’ areas confined to straight lines, straight borders, straight beds, straight walks, and straight walls. When you view a small garden where the whole design consists of mostly straight lines, you can see the whole garden at just a glance. This can make it
seem cramped and confined.

Using curves adds a sense of motion, making the garden gradually unfold. Something as simple as a curved brick or stone walkway or curved flower bed will add an element of interest and a sense of extended space. Here are a few tips:

A great way of dividing a small area is by creating different levels. This can be as simple as adding raised beds or creating a sitting area that steps up onto a different platform. An upper level can actually be transformed into a whole new world or ‘theme’ from the lower level.

Use gazebos, bridges, arbors and trellises to separate and divide one area from another. This creates a sense of flow but also a sense of mystery, inviting you to see what you can’t see on the other side.

Adding elements of interest to small gardens creates more experiences for you and your visitors. Place plants in special groupings or even groups of colorful pots and interesting scrap yard finds.

When you use several groups of plants or rocks, keep them close to the same theme, colour or size to create unity throughout the garden and stop it looking cluttered.

Choosing the right wall colours is a simple way to add the perception of depth to small gardens. Using white as a background gives the appearance of extending space, while using black on a corner wall will appear as a shadow and give the illusion of an ongoing garden.

Glass walls or mirrors that extend the garden into the house or onto another wall make small gardens feel twice their
real size.