Ideas on how to make the most of a small garden
Small gardens can make a big impact. With some careful planning and clever use of space, you can turn even the most compact outdoor space into something really special. Some of our tips for making the most of a small garden can even make it seem like you have more space than you actually do. Let us talk you through our ideas to make your small garden a big success.
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Top tips for planning a small garden
Choose a focus
When planning what you want to put in your garden, think about your favourite way to spend time in it. Once you have chosen your focus, design your space around it. Don’t try and do so much in your small garden that it feels busy and overworked.
If eating outside is really important to you, make your outdoor dining area the focus. If sitting in the garden watching the kids play is your favourite outdoor activity, make that the goal of your space. However you want to use your garden, use it to focus your design.
Careful, imaginative planning is key to the success of a small garden design. Start by drawing out the shape and boundaries of the plot, and then try out different designs to see what can be included, such as a patio, decking or small shed.
It's even a good idea to get outside with a tape measure, some string and some stakes to mark out areas where you think you want to put something. It will help you put your designs into context.
Create different zones in your garden to make your space feel bigger and add interest into your design. Don’t overdo it though, two to three sections is probably enough for a small garden. Create one large focus area, and then work a smaller zone into your design. This will help you to enjoy your garden from different vantage points.
For a small, secluded spot, place a bench amongst raised beds and pots, to create a quite spot We think arbours make a great feature in a quiet corner of your garden. Especially this Chiltern wooden arbour which makes a great spot to relax with a coffee whilst admiring your garden.
Build a decking area
Decking is great for a small garden and provides an ideal surface for a dining or relaxing area. It is soft underfoot compared to gravel or paving and can be easily refreshed with a new lick of exterior paint. The way you lay your decking can enhance your space. Laying deck boards lengthwise will elongate the area being decked, whereas laying them width wise, will widen it.
We even have a decking range with a layer of artificial grass in it. This means you can create the appearance of a grass even if your whole space is covered with decking.
Screening is a clever way to divide up your outdoor space. Screens work really well when creating zones in your garden.
In smaller gardens, you have fewer places to hide the things that you maybe don’t want in plain sight – things like wheelie bins, water butts and pots with spent, seasonal plants in them. Use trellis, decorative fence panels and screening to hide essential, but uninspiring storage areas.
Store it away
Garden storage is really important in smaller gardens where space is at a premium. We have some great options to suit your space. Choose from compact sheds like this tall garden store, garden storage boxes and many more. Check out our space-saving Denia wooden bench, (pictured), that doubles as a bench and a storage solution.
Also think about how you store your tools in your shed or garden store. Add hooks and shelves to make the most of the space you have and keep your garden sundries tidy.
Choose garden furniture that works with your space
We have clever space-saving garden furniture available at B&Q to help you optimise space. The Pilares coffee set, (pictured), is a stylish rattan effect collection where all three components of the set stack neatly and simply on top of each other for easy storage. Another space-saving design available from B&Q is the the Karaya dining set. This outdoor dining set has an innovative design that allows the footstools and chairs to tuck neatly underneath the table for the ultimate in clever storage when it isn't in use.
Folding garden furniture is great for small spaces. Collapse it and hang it up on hooks in the shed when it isn’t in use to keep it out of the way. Our Saba folding bistro chairs come in a range of colours for you to choose from. We also have tables that can be folded for easy storage like the Batang four seater table or the Batang two seater bistro table.
Think about height
Use all available opportunities to add some height into your design. Plants can be grown up along walls and in raised beds and troughs – leaving more floor space for everything else.
Hanging baskets and wall baskets are an easy way to add height. We love this wall mountable, wrought iron wall basket. It’s a great way to use otherwise wasted wall space. It looks particularly effective underneath windows when filled with trailing plants.
Why not try making a wooden ladder planter (like the one pictured), out of sawn timber? Great for herbs and small pots. Wrap garden string lights around the shelves or place small lanterns on them to make add depth and interest into your garden design.Shop hanging baskets Shop sawn timber
Find space for a barbecue or grill
Our charcoal barbecue range has some great compact options which are ideal for smaller gardens. Look for models with wheels so that they can be moved away from plants when in use, and easily manoeuvred into a corner when you’re finished.
When it comes to outdoor heating, we have firepits which double as outdoor heating and a grill – perfect when space is at a premium. We love the Alexis fire bowl that comes with a cooking grill and is a handy, compact size for a small garden. You can even combine outdoor heating and your dining set with the Ripley firepit set.Shop barbecues Shop outdoor heating
Create mystery with an archway
Create the illusion of a secret garden entrance with a stylish arch. Place one at the start of a path and train climbing plants like Clematis, climbing roses or Wisteria up it. Arches with a beautiful plant canopy also look great against a fence or boundary with a chair underneath it. This doesn’t take up much ground space and it creates a quiet spot to enjoy a cup of tea in the garden.Shop arches
Light it up
Light up your garden after dusk with garden lights. Wall lanterns are a simple way to illuminate your garden or eating area without taking up any floor space. Our selection features both traditional and contemporary styles to suit all looks.
Fairy lights and garden string lights are a great way to delicately light specific areas of your garden. Ideal for small gardens, they can line paths, create cosy, inviting spaces, when wrapped around parasols, fences, trees and more. Table lights are portable, available as either battery or solar powered and make a great centrepiece to outdoor dining tables.Shop outdoor lights Shop garden string lights
Create a colour theme
Coordinate everything from structures to decking with exterior paints, stains and varnishes. Suitable for use on wood, metal and masonry, our range allows you to both personalise your space and protect the surfaces from the damaging effects of the weather. We recommend choosing shades that complement one another for a unified look - great for creating balance in a small space.Shop exterior paint, stains & varnishes
Put plants in pots
Plants in pots are a good way to keep your garden colourful. You can add splashes of colour quickly and easily without losing big areas of garden to beds and borders. The best thing about plants in pots is that you can move them out of the way when you need extra space to play, or entertain.
Put seasonal plants in pots to give you bursts of colour all year round. Annuals such as Petunias, Geraniums, Pansies and Cyclamen are a great size for pots and hanging baskets. Once they have finished flowering, you can simply replant the pot with something new and fresh.Shop plant pots
Top tip: Don't forget about compost
Refresh the compost in pots when you re-plant them to make sure there is enough nutrients to keep your plants happy.Shop compost
When your border space is limited, make it work harder by 'layering' the plants. ‘Layering’ plants is the technique of staggering plants of decreasing height, with different flowering seasons, to keep beds colourful for longer. Start with the tallest plant at the back and work forwards
At the back, plant climbing plants that can grow up a piece of trellis (or a frame if the bed doesn’t back onto a boundary). Something fragrant like scented-roses or Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) are particularly effective. In the mid-section, plants like Mexican orange (Choisya ternata) and Hydrangeas work really well. They fill up the central space and, if pruned well at the end of the season, won’t grow too tall. In the space left at the front, go for low growing, colourful plants like primroses or phlox, or perhaps something fragrant and spreading like thyme or camomile.Shop plants
Top tip: Think about maximum plant size
When choosing plants for a small garden, check the maximum growth size of the varieties you pick. Some trees and shrubs can grow to enormous sizes which could overcrowd a small garden quickly.
Grow your own fruit, vegetables & salad
Having a small garden doesn’t mean you can’t grow your own fruit and veg. Trailing varieties of tomatoes grow well in hanging baskets and don’t take up any floor space. Small containers with salad leaves and herbs are another great way to grow your own produce in a small space.
Strawberry plants grow well in confined spaces and work really well in hanging baskets. These clever easy hanger plant pots hang over the top of fences and would be ideal for strawberries.Shop fruit & vegetable seeds Read about growing your own fruit & veg