How to make a small garden look bigger with landscaping
The temptation with a small garden is to keep everything small – narrow borders with tiny bedding plants, no height or built structures, and an open patch of lawn to try to ‘maximise’ the space.
But in fact, this can often serve to reinforce the effect that the garden is small. So, if you want to make the best use of small, sometimes it pays to think big.
1. Plan your plot
Don’t just dive in without a plan. Every inch of a small garden matters, so measure out right up to your boundaries, including any irregular shapes around the exterior of the house or outbuildings, and plot it out on squared paper.
You don’t have to go with your first plan. This is where you should make your mistakes, so if it doesn’t look right on paper, play around with ideas until you find something that works better.
Individual items like large standalone planters or benches can be cut out as separate pieces of paper so you can just slide them around the page until you find a good fit for them.
2. Go off kilter
A good optical illusion to make small gardens look bigger is to use straight lines and geometric shapes but lay them along the diagonal instead of straight down or across the garden.
Diagonals are naturally longer than the length and width in which they occur, and by placing triangular or diamond raised beds and other angular elements down the sides of the garden, you can create a zig-zag path or eyeline that gives you a longer journey before you reach the end.
3. Hide the bottom
If you can’t see the end of the garden, often this helps to hide the fact that it is there, rather than making it feel more enclosed.
You can disguise the end of the garden by placing a shed or trellis at the bottom, hiding any hard walls and fences with softer planting, or by placing dividers like bamboo screens closer to the house so the garden as a whole feels as though it is in more sections and distinct spaces.
4. Light and movement
Although you may be limited in how much open space you can create, there are other ways to bring light and movement into small gardens to make them feel more spacious.
Small water features – especially those with a small physical footprint but good height – help to provide movement and sound from the trickling water, while solar lights can spotlight focal points after dark, and tall grasses and other such plants can soften edges as they sway in the breeze.
5. A riot of colour
If you really want to go all out, be bold and brave with your use of colour. Whether that means using brightly coloured planters or painting your shed or fence, or adding colour through your choice of flowers, it’s a great way to brighten a small garden and make it feel more vibrant.
Remember flowers will give temporary colour that changes with the seasons, and to further enhance this you can choose varieties with variegated leaves or plants like Acers that turn vivid colours in autumn, bringing the vibrancy of the season into even a small garden.