Help make the most of a small outdoor space
Small gardens can make a big impact. With some clever planning, you can transform the most compact outdoor space into something really special. You 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.
Top tips for planning a small garden
Choose a focus and start planning
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.
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.
Create zones and add screening
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.
Screening is a clever way to divide up your outdoor space into these zones. It can also help hide essential, but uninspiring things that you might not want in plain sight, such as wheelie bins, water butts and pots with spent, seasonal plants in them.
Build a decking area
Decking is great for a small garden and provides an ideal surface for a dining or relaxing area. It's soft underfoot compared to gravel or paving and timber decking can easily be refreshed with a lick of exterior paint. The way you lay your decking can also enhance your space. Laying deck boards lengthwise will elongate the area being decked, whereas laying them width wise, will widen it.
We even offer a decking range with a layer of artificial grass on it. This creates the appearance of grass even if your whole space is covered with decking for the best of both worlds.
Store it away
Garden storage is really important in smaller gardens where space is at a premium and we have some great options. Choose from compact sheds in traditional wood, robust metal and low-maintenance plastic. Or explore our range of garden storage, with designs especially for bikes, bins and more.
We love the space-saving Denia Wooden Bench and Storage Box, (pictured), This clever two-piece offers comfy seating as well as discreet storage. And don't forget to maximise the space in your chosen storage solution. Add hooks and shelves to make the most of every inch you have and keep all your garden items tidy and organised.
Choose space-saving garden furniture
We have clever space-saving garden furniture available at B&Q to help you optimise space. If you like dining outdoors, opt for a bistro set with foldable table and chairs or stackable armchairs, such as the Bari. Like to entertain? Make more room for friends and family with the Karaya 4-Seater Dining Set. Its innovative design allows the footstools and chairs to tuck neatly underneath the table for the ultimate in clever storage when not in use.
And if you prefer relaxing rather than dining, check out our Pilares 2-Seater Coffee Set. The two chairs in this stylish, rattan-effect set stack neatly and simply on top of each other for easy storage. Or for something less permanent, consider a hammock, outdoor floor cushion or a portable sun lounger.
Settle on a colour theme
Create a unified look in a small space by choosing a colour scheme. Much like decorating indoors, complementary colours work well together across an outdoor space and can achieve balance. Coordinate everything from sheds to fencing, walls 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.Shop exterior paint, stains & varnishes
Introduce interest at different heights
Add some height into your small garden to make the most of all available space. This could be through planting in a variety of ways, such as hanging baskets, in raised beds, or climbing up trellis. By adding interest and colour off the ground, you create more floor space for everything else.
If you have the room, we love ladder planters. Pick up a ready-made version like the Rural 3-Tier Shelving Unit (pictured), or make your own 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 the garden glow.
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. Or how about a table-top plancha grill? Choose between our one or two-burner gas hot plates.
For the ultimate outdoor space-saver, look for two-in-one options. We offer firepits that double as outdoor heating and a grill – perfect when space is at a premium. We love the Tinaga Firepit that comes with a cooking grill and is a handy, compact size for a small garden.
Get clever with plants
Plants in pots are a quick and easy way to add splashes of colour without losing big areas of garden to beds and borders. Move them out of the way when you need extra space and replant with your favourite annuals to keep the colour all year long.
If you do have beds and borders, make them work harder by 'layering' the plants. This is the method 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 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 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.
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.
Let there be light
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. They offer broad lighting coverage and our selection features both traditional and contemporary styles to suit all looks.
Alternatively, add some atmosphere and delicately light specific areas with garden string lights. Ideal for small gardens, they can create cosy, inviting spaces, when wrapped around parasols, fences, trees and more. Similarly, table lights and lanterns (pictured) are portable, available as either battery or solar-powered and make a great centrepiece to outdoor dining tables.Shop outdoor wall lights Shop garden string lights
Grow your own fruit, vegetables & salad
Having a small garden doesn’t mean you can’t grow your own fruit and veg. Herbs, strawberries and trailing varieties of tomatoes all grow well in hanging baskets and don’t take up any floor space. Or squeeze in small containers or grow bags to grow your own produce in a small space.
This year, we're delighted to introduce our Kitchen Garden range. This is a mix-and-match approach to growing your own produce, where you can choose from a selection of items to customise your growing set-up. The range includes everything you need from raised beds to grow covers - so you can make sure it all fits your space.
For more on growing, check out our helpful How to guides.