London (change)
Today 10°C / 10°C
Tomorrow 12°C / 11°C

Lawns in small gardens

Small lawns needn't be plain and uninspiring. An emerald green, healthy lawn will give any garden a lift, big or small, and there's a lot you can do to keep it looking good - from choosing the right grass seed, to aerating. You can even make a feature out of it.

Discover our top tips for creating and maintaining a lawn in a small space, below.


Give your lawn shape

Give your lawn shape

Don’t be tempted to extend your lawn into every nook and cranny. You’ll get little benefit from slivers of grass squeezed between borders, and small patches are tricky to mow. Instead, keep your lawn to a usable size with a simple, defined shape.

Aerate your lawn

Aerate your lawn

Lawns in small gardens are prone to soil compaction. Waterlogging occurs in wet weather as the rain can’t soak in – and in dry weather the rain runs off. Drive a fork into the lawn to make holes 10cm deep, then gently rock the fork to loosen compaction. Brush in coarse sand to keep holes open.

Plant bulbs in your lawn

Plant bulbs in your lawn

Everything must earn its keep in a small plot so make your lawn more interesting by planting bulbs. Try daffodils and crocus (tulips don’t grow well in grass) and don’t mow for six weeks after flowering, as this gives the leaves time to return nutrients to the bulb.

Put in a path

Put in a path

Bare patches can develop where a lawn is regularly walked on. Create a path or lay a series of stepping stones, to reduce the strain on the grass.

Use clever storage

Use clever storage

Space is precious in a small garden, so choose a lawn mower that packs away neatly. Look for handles that fold and collapsible collection boxes. Hover and push mowers are often light enough to hang on a wall for easy storage.

Select the right grass

Select the right grass

Small lawns can often be overshadowed, so look for a seed mix or turf that suits your spot. Lawn seed is available in special mixes for shady lawns, for lawns that get a lot of wear and tear, and for lawns on poor or sandy soil that need drought-tolerant grass.

Trim your lawn

Trim your lawn

Mowers give the neatest finish on large lawns but you may be able to ditch the lawn mower if your lawn is small enough – saving storage space. Electric grass trimmers, designed for tidying lawn edges, take up little space and can be used to trim the grass all over a tiny lawn.

Alternatives to green lawn

Alternatives to green lawn

Well cared for, even a small lawn does a good job of absorbing heavy rainfall. So if you decide to replace it, choose permeable gravel or decking, rather than paving.

Make a chamomile lawn

Make a chamomile lawn

Replace the grass with fragrant chamomile for a scented feature every time you walk over it, but take care as it’s not as tough as lawn grass.




Discuss this plant feature

Talkback: Lawns in small gardens
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Chas and Dave's mum 18/07/2013 at 22:07

I had a beautiful velvet, green, circular lawn last summer, but during the harsh winter my two young border collies wore out the grass by their constant running and chasing each other as well as digging the odd hole in it. We tried everything to revive the lawn as well as training the dogs to stop digging.
We had to admit defeat and had a feature circular patio with raised garden beds built where the lawn was. I do miss the lawn but we also love our new courtyard garden complete with new flower beds. It is also much easier to keep our patio, conservatory and kitchen floors clean now.