Small garden

Make the most of a small garden

Find out how to maximise use of a small garden space, in our feature.

A small garden needn’t mean small ambitions. Even in the tiniest garden, it’s possible to grow a wide range of plants – even trees – and create a beautiful outdoor space that you can enjoy all year round.


A small garden often works well as an ‘outdoor room’, giving you additional space for entertaining and relaxing. When designing a small space, it’s better to be bold – use a few large features rather than lots of small ones, and repeat elements such as hard landscaping or plants. Take a look at our top tips for designing a small or courtyard garden.

The Small Garden category of BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine’s Garden of the Year Competition 2016 showed that a small garden is no barrier to beauty and creativity – check out some of the shortlisted small gardens.

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Here are some ways to make the most of all aspects of a small garden.

A small garden doesn't mean small ambitions. Even in the tiniest garden, it's possible to grow a wide range of plants.

Plants for small gardens

In a small garden, you don’t have the luxury of creating areas that peak at one time of year. Choose hardworking plants that really earn their place and look good almost all year round. Discover plants that look good all year.


Lawns in small gardens

In a small garden, a lawn can be an attractive feature, especially if it has a distinctive shape and is well maintained. Or you may choose to replace it with another permeable surface, such as gravel, decking or a chamomile lawn. Read our tips on lawns in small gardens.


Trees for small gardens

It’s a common misconception that a small garden doesn’t have room for a tree. But that’s far from the case – there are lots of trees, including acers and crab apples, that are ideal. Discover the best trees for small gardens and watch Joe Swift’s No Fuss video guide to choosing trees for small gardens.


Container gardening

Be sure to include plenty of patio containers so you can ring the changes with the seasons and grow plants that might not thrive in the ground, such as acid-loving camellias. Read our recommendations for container plants for sun and container plants for shade.


Window boxes

Don’t forget window boxes, in which you can grow ornamental and even edible plants. Check out some of our ideas for beautiful window boxes and watch Carol Klein’s video guide to growing herbs in window boxes.



Climbers are essential in a small garden – they take up very little space on the ground, but pack a punch with their foliage and flowers. Find out how to plant climbers. Grow them up obelisks or over pergolas, along walls or fences or even in a pot. Discover 10 climbers to grow.


Space-saving fruit and veg

Many types of veg don’t take up much space – read our advice on space-saving veg crops to grow. Potatoes grow very well in old compost bags on the patio, while strawberries are brilliant in pots and hanging basketsTrained fruit trees take up very little space.


Ponds in small spaces

Think your garden is too small for a pond? Think again! Ponds don’t have to be large, but if you don’t have room for one, you can create a beautiful pond in a pot. Check out some of our favourite plants for ponds in pots.


Green walls

It’s important to make the most of every inch of space in small garden – and that includes walls and fences. A green wall can be a beautiful feature and is easy to make – several kits are available to buy. Find out how to create a living wall.


Don’t forget lighting

Garden lighting both extends the use of your garden into the evening, and creates a lovely scene for you to look out on from indoors. There are lots of routes you can go down, from strings of festoon lights, to beautiful lanterns dotted around.

Photo: Getty Images.