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Kate Bradbury

My garden is tiny, just four-metres squared. I've got a very small lawn area (at my partner's insistence). I'm hoping to make the lawn smaller, and circular, to make the garden look bigger, and plant shrubs and herbaceous perennials around it. Has anyone else done this? Would you recommend it?

Kate web team

Hi kate

My garden is slightly bigger.  Rather than a circular lawn I have a stone pavior circle with wide beds around it (so plants can 'flop' onto the circle). 

Just off the circle is a very small patio area in the same coloured stone, enough for a garden bench and at about 45 degrees across the circle is a small deck which is slightly raised to create height interest.  We have a huge cornish palm growing up through the decking which we sit around.  These two seating areas ensure that we can sit in early morning and evening sun throughout the summer.

I have found that the wide beds of plants around the circle (be it grass or stone) do give depth to the garden.  Have also added a bird bath to the middle of one bed with perennials growing up around it.

Hope whatever you decide to do looks great

My garden is sightly bigger too, and again I have got a paved circle in the middle of the flower garden.    I decided to dispense with a lawn altogether, although the front garden has one.    I have a patio area, and no children, so grass seemed a waste of good soil to me.     I have four beds around the circle, two of which have obelisks of clematis in them.   

The only drawback with my garden is that you can see it all in one go.    I would love a garden large enough to be able to divide it into "rooms", but you don't need to even walk around mine!

Kate Bradbury

Thanks both. I would love a garden with 'rooms' too - one day! I would also love to get rid of the lawn... I think a circle centre if the way to go though, I'll post a photo when I've done it.



I have a garden with many rooms and treat them as so many smallgardens so that I can manage them one at a time.  The only one with circles in it will be the five Olympic rings next year.  But I find that growing upwards in a lot of the rooms makes for vistas and screens that make the garden interesting and I'm sure that could be done in a small garden too.  

Obelisks or wigwams with sweetpeas up them work a treat in Hidcote. Roses, golden hop  and vines work well in the Bristol Botanic Garden.  I think smal gardens can look bitty so suggest a fairly large patch occasionally in the borders of the same one or two plants like this border of alliums and lavender near the veg, garden at the Holt Farm Organic Garden to bring in the pollinators.


my garden is slightly larger too and i have dispensed with my lawn area as i find i can do my gardening all year round without having to worry about damaging the lawn, also there is no muddy pathways trailing across well walked areas, i have a square central area of blue slate with different width borders around to which i have a collection of evergreen shrubs and disciduos shrubs then along two sides i have slightly narrower borders to which i grow mainly flowers for summer and spring displays i find this way i always have something of interest in the garden all year round, and without too much hard work involved.


I agree with happymarion2 that in a small garden, the variety of planting should be restricted to as few as possible, taking into account seasonal interest (plant bulbs to grow through perennials, then later-flowered autumn colour etc).  Also don't forget your walls/fences - adding interest here can make the garden look larger; try climbers, mosaics, mirrors, murals, etc. and don't be afraid of strong colour in a small garden.

I too am thinking of a radical redesign of my garden which is short and wide. What is it about men and their precious patch of green? My husband is very opposed to me nibbling away at any more of his lawn. Having said that, he did succumb under pressure and agreed to the purchase of a garden archway. I like the idea of dividing the garden into 'rooms' and have heard/read/seen that it is the thing to do to make your garden more interesting. It is my intention to plonk, sorry, position, the arch about 1/3 of the way along to give some height, then dig up the lawn to extend the borders towards it. The main challenge is making it look right from the house as it will be at right angles to the house. I am a bit scared that some odd shapes will be created in the lawn and if it all goes pear shaped, I will be eating a huge amount of humble pie and seeding a new lawn! Any advice would be gratefully received.

Not sure if you can see very well from the photos but there is an orange rope outlining the new border in the bottom one.


I had to smile when I read your post, ChrisBee.    My first husband was very adamant that I shouldn't remove any of his precious lawn.    I waited until he wasn't at home and dug a new wavy edged border, and he was very cross.   The next door neighbour gave me a whole load of self-seeded forget-me-nots and I planted these all along the edge of the border.    A week later I took another six-inches of lawn away all along the edge, and moved all the forget-me-nots to the new edge.    He didn't notice!   So, I did this several times until I had a lovely deep border for planting!     I must say, those forget-me-nots were very tolerant of being dug up weekly! 


This is my century blog so I am showing you how far I have progressed with the redesign of my vegetable garden, now three quarters cleared and plans drawn up for a potager more suitable for an octagenarian to cultivate.  Here it is on Jan.10th.  Look out for it again in March. ( The cat is called Wally and belongs to next door.)

<span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 115%; font-family: Arial, sans-serif;">All of these ideas sound great and I wish I had come on here before I redesigned my garden as I went for a more minimalistic approach, removing various plants in favour of fewer larger shrubs that will be easier to maintain. The only thing I would recommend is that you don’t forget about the garden furniture ( <span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 10pt; line-height: 115%;">or lighting ( <span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 10pt; line-height: 115%;">as these accessories really make the difference. I bought some nice solar lights and a rattan 4 piece so now I can actually enjoy the garden with my wife and friends.

<span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"><span style="line-height: 14px;">Hope this helps in some way. 

Hi my husband gardens for a living, and yet our garden is always the one that gets left out! We have enormous fir trees which when planted 30+ years ago, were fine, but now just completey overpower the small garden and before long we'll have to take the patio table and chairs indoors to sit on as there won't be any room outside....we need to completely redesign the garden but ideas are not very forthcoming...we need help please.  We have a small lawn area which used to be my husband's pride and joy, but the roots from the trees come so far into the lawn now that it's ruined - should we take it all out and pave the lot!  Any suggestions would be great - a frustrated gardeners wife!

Hi your tree roots is a bit off a dilemma I personaly would say get shot off the trees or give them a trim that's your call though. I divided my garden into six sections which range from high shrubs lilac's budleia and lavaterias but they're kept in shape I like the idea off height and colour against dull walls etc but also like to have space for my borders and displays and not forgetting seating areas I'd suggest shillies? On the lawn, perhaps place your furniture on them with a few pots and borders surrounding? The calls totally your I can only express my opinion off I were in this situation hope I helped

Kate, we moved to a smaller garden but were amazed at the difference it makes if you garden upwards.  The previous owner had put up a wooden sort of arch way (which you couldn't walk under) to grow things up so we have done more of this sort of thing when redesigning the garden ourselves.  All the best.

I have a slightly larger garden than you Kate, but I too have gone circular. I have found that rounding off the corners of my lawn has added a whole new dimension to my garden, and helped to make it feel larger than it actually is. It's added a whole new depth to the garden. Its also a bit of a trick on the eye, since it seems to create a sense of flow to the garden that wasn't there before. A far more natural look, that I am now glad I had the courage to do! Good luck!



Ah, belle 25, the cobbler's children are always the worst shod.  As gardening is your husband's work, the last thing he wants to do is gardening when he gets home. But it would be nice for him to sit and have his dinner on a patio full of plants and wildlife that you have created.  I would scrap grass altogether except for a mini meadow full of native flowers, have birdbaths and feeders as the birds must love your trees, fill all corners where you don't walk or sit with pots or troughs of  flowers to attract bees and butterflies and have a mini pond for frogs.  I would also grow a rose up one of those trees.

My area is also a little better as it is not shaped just like a square and sort of have some extra areas on the side that makes way for more redesign options.

I actually though of layering the walls with rocks and putting a couple of plant boxes that are placed diagonally on the wall that will make it look like some special holder that is just right.


Update of my new potager build which is the project supposed to keep me gardening well into my nineties.  The lads started work today and the first delivery of six tons of limestone chippings was made and the wood taken round to their workshop to be made into the eight raised beds.  Two hours later they arrived back with the first one to see if I liked it.  I most certainly did.  Here it is, not in place yet, but built and awaiting the other seven.  It is 2metres by 2metres and wil be 15inches tall when in the ground and the path built round it.

Excitable Boy

Heavens, Marion, if your FIRST delivery is six TONS then you must have a major project on!   Glad you have help though as I'm undertaking a similar exercise but have to do the hard landscaping myself. I'm sleeping very soundly at night!!

I like the look of your raised beds. Very swish!

Where is the Bristol Botanic Garden btw? Might be worth a visit for some ideas.


The Bristol University Botanic Garden is sited at "The  Holmes", a University residence in Stoke Park Road, Stoke Bishop, just behind the Downs.  They have a lovely website but to give you an idea of how exciting it is , Excitable Boy, the whole garden is like a great story book.  The main theme is the evolution of plants and within it and woven through the whole garden and with specific gardens as well,  - Mediterranean type gardening, native and local plants, useful plants, including medicinal and food and fibre plants.  We even have a mahogany tree!  At present the garden is open Monday to Friday to the public for a voluntary donation only.  But you will be able to see work in progress on our native meadow (seeds collected from the Downs), the Mediterranean Veg.Garden being prepared for the spring,, and this year , the Western Australian Garden being built.  Do visit .  You will be very welcome.