As much as we’d love to have a huge garden where we can relax, play with our children and host parties, for the majority of urban homes in the UK, this is far from reality. The demand for city living has meant that homes are getting evermore compact, featuring gardens and outdoor spaces to match.
For those of us that have managed to snag a comfortable home with at least a little outdoor space, it’s usually a priority to make it work as hard as possible. Here are our top tips for making the most out of every inch.
1. Think vertically
When floorspace is at a premium, it’s time to look upwards. Planters with a small footprint are your friend, helping you squeeze as many plants into your garden as you desire. As well as hanging baskets and trellises, look for stepped herb gardens, potted wall panels and other DIY planter ideas.
2. Play with illusion
You might be surprised what a little visual trickery can achieve. Take a weekend to paint your walls or fences in a bright colour, and invest in a few pretty solar lights to brighten dark corners and add depth to flower beds and shrubs. Mirrors are the ultimate tool for making your garden seem bigger. Here are a few ways in which they can be used creatively and with subtlety to create the illusion of an endless space.
3. Don’t forget the driveway
If you’re lucky enough to have a garage and driveway attached to your property, you might be able to save some valuable space here, too. Conventional up-and-over garage doors are known for “kicking out” at the bottom, meaning that you can’t have a car parked too close to the front if you want to get inside. Switch this for a roller door and you’ll regain a good few feet of useable driveway.
4. Divide and conquer
If you want to be able to use your outdoor space for multiple activities, consider visually splitting the space up into different areas. It’s amazing what a difference can be made simply by marking out designated areas for gardening, socialising and playing. Use decking, patio slabs, and clear borders to separate pathways, flowerbeds, seating areas and your lawn. You’ll be surprised as to how much space you actually have.
5. Prioritise pruning
Unfortunately, small gardens simply don’t have the space for unwieldy plants. If you want to keep flowers and shrubs in a modest space, you have to be fairly strict about pruning them back so that they don’t overwhelm what little space you have. You can make this easier for yourself by choosing plants that work particularly well in small spaces.
6. Pick your furniture wisely
Choosing the right garden furniture and accessories is essential if you want to maximise the space you have. Anything that folds away or stacks together is your friend. That goes for tables and chairs, washing lines and anything storage solutions. You should also look for slimline designs that don’t take up too much visual space – think ‘minimal’.
The other option is to get as much of your furniture working double-time. Benches can double-up as storage boxes. Seats can fold out into loungers. Potting benches can be used as storage and flower display stands.
7. Re-evaluate your shed
How much storage do you actually need in your garden? Chances are, if you have a shed, you’re not using it as much as you could be. Now is the time to go through everything that’s stored in there and assess whether you really need it more than you need a little more room in your garden. Can you replace it with a smaller unit – a lean-to, or half-height shed, perhaps? Alternatively, is there now enough room that you could spruce it up and use it as a garden room in summer?
Most of us wish we could have a little bit more garden space but this just doesn’t always fit with a modern lifestyle. Instead of worrying that somebody else’s lawn is greener, appreciate the space that you do have by making the most of every feature – you’ll soon be able to see it for the charming, low-maintenance gem that it is!
Dakota Murphey is an independent content writer who regularly contributes to the horticulture industry. She enjoys nothing more than pottering around her gardening in the sunshine. Find out what else Dakota has been up to on Twitter, @Dakota_Murphey.