Simple Small Garden Design Ideas

Small garden design ideas

Not everybody can have sprawling acres for their garden, and not everybody wants the workload associated with having a large garden. Luckily, there’s a great deal that can be done with small gardens, as I want to show you with these simple small garden design ideas.

Pick a Viewing Point

In some ways, a small garden can actually be better than a large one. It can seem more cosy. You can sit in the sun, and be surrounded by all the colours and smells of the flowers, rather than having to walk around in order to take everything in.

Garden Path and BenchSince you have limited space though, it’s important to decide early on where the main viewing area for your garden will be. Will it be a seating area near the house, will it be an arbour up amongst the plants, or will it be a pathway that runs through the garden?

Once you know where your main viewing area will be, you’ll be in a better position to start planning other elements of the garden, safe in the knowledge that you won’t be obscuring your view. After all, there’s nothing worse than designing a great garden, then finding that parts of it are hidden from view most of the time.

It’s surprising how placing a different seating position in a garden can give it a whole different feeling. If you’re used to always looking out at the garden from the house, consider placing an arbour or creating a seating area at the far end of the garden, so that you feel closer to nature.

Plant Choice

Garden Bamboo Plant in Pot
A bamboo plant soon creates a good screen or wind break.

Small garden design brings its own challenges, since without proper planning, a dominant plant could overrun the garden, stealing sunlight or root space from other plants.

Before buying any plants, trees, or shrubs for your small garden, consider what they’ll be like in 2, 5, or 10 years time. Are they going to become so thick, tall, or bushy that they turn your little garden into a dark, cramped space?

Bamboo plants can be good in a small garden, as they grow tall and thin rather than having bushy branches. They also grow quickly to create wind breaks or privacy screens. However, bamboo can spread quickly and take over, so either grow it in its own planter, or, if planting it directly in the ground, surround it with a plastic barrier to stop underground runners shooting off in all directions.

If you want to be sure that you keep the plants under control in your small garden, consider using a series of raised beds or trough planters to keep different species separate, instead of planting everything directly in the ground. That way, your garden can remain under control, and there’s no fear of the different plants competing with each other.


Another important thing you have to consider is drainage. A small garden has less area for water to run off, so could be prone to flooding, especially if it’s surrounded by buildings or concrete foundations for walls.

Therefore, try to identify areas where the ground could become water-logged, and keep any plants away from there that don’t like getting their feet wet.

If you’re at a loss about what to do with a soggy area of your garden, you could consider placing a raised bed or trough planter there, so that you don’t have to plant directly in the ground. However, if you’re planning on using a wooden bed or planter, it’s best to place a waterproof membrane under it where it makes contact with the ground, or place it on bricks so that the wood doesn’t rot.

Consider a Path

Bad drainage in gardenBecause a small garden has less space for you to move about in, the same areas will tend to get walked on a lot. This can be a nightmare for a lawn, especially if it already suffers from the poor drainage problems mentioned above. That lovely grass can soon get trodden down into a muddy mess.

If you think that lawn damage may become a problem, consider laying a path. It doesn’t have to be anything too fancy. In fact, it could just be a couple of stepping stones laid down so that you can get to where you want to go without churning up the grass.

Grow Vertically

Remember that your garden doesn’t have to just be designed on the horizontal plane, you can also grow vertically.

One of the simplest methods is to fix some hanging baskets to a wall. Another method is to fix a trellis to a wall or fence that climbing plants can cover.

If you want to get really ambitious, you could even consider fixing some wooden planters halfway up the wall, to give you a split-level growing area for flowers.

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