Becky Young turns her eye to the garden.
If asked for ‘small garden ideas’, you wouldn’t normally start with advising people to plant a large cypress tree right in the middle of their courtyard garden. But a cypress tree in the middle of a small garden creates a secluded seating area and divides the garden up.
The effect is fascinating, because the tree prevents you from seeing the whole garden at once. A walk around a small garden can become an adventure of discovery, and the tree is all part of that.
Read on for my top 10 tips for your small garden . . .
Don’t let size curb your ambitions
Wildflowers are brilliant for a small garden. A central bed of wildflowers, self-seeders and other plants flourish in a bed that is shared with the cypress tree.
You can include anything a gardener could want in a small space. Two mini-wildlife ponds, self-seeders, wild flowers, containers of all kinds, sculpture, ‘garden paintings’, bird feeders, places to sit and abundant, gloriously healthy plants and flowers.
Don’t have a lawn in a small garden
Have a wide path around a large central bed, plus wide beds around the edges of the garden. You can include a couple of places to sit, but no lawn. This will greatly increase the space to grow flowers. It will also give your garden an abundant feel.
Paving and paths are initially probably more expensive than a lawn – but you won’t need a lawn-mower!
A lawn is also hard to maintain in a small space – it quickly gets bald.
Use the walls – it doubles the growing space
Your fences can have ivy, clematis and other climbers, but they can also host works of art. Create garden paintings by hanging picture frames on the fence, and using them to frame hanging pots.
Search charity shops for garden pots and tools
You can often find a mix of pots, picture frames, troughs, vintage gardenalia and lots more in charity shops if you take the time to look. Buying things for your garden this way will greatly reduce what you need to spend and you can find some amazing treasures!
Mix second-hand chairs with garden furniture
If you buy chairs and tables from junk or charity shops, you’ll probably be less worried about whether they’ll rot. Paint your metal garden furniture with a good all-weather paint to help stop it rusting. Painting garden furniture generally helps it withstand the elements.
Cut the plant bill by letting weeds and plants self-sow
If you like a flower, let it set seed. So the garden is marvellously colourful and relaxed. Purple loosestrife is considered a weed in many gardens. But it can be part of the colour scheme. It probably counts as one of the cheapest small garden ideas you’ll find. Self-seeders and pretty weeds fill a garden for free.
Upcycle your shed
You can make your shed is an installation in itself. I love the idea of painting it, covering it in old CDs and using window boxes and signs. In the sunshine, the CDs glitter.
You can be wildlife friendly in a small garden
Bird feeders and bird boxes can be mixed with the ‘garden paintings’. Think about how your garden can offer food, water, shelter and access. Bird and bat boxes, bug hotels, feeders, mini-ponds all fit into the smallest of gardens. And don’t forget that fences and hedges need to have some gaps to allow small mammals and amphibians to access several gardens at once.
Pots, pots, pots…
Have a wonderfully eclectic collection of pots and upcycled containers in your garden. Wooden boxes, old teapots, and more.
Pots work well in small gardens because they give you lots of flexibility. You can replace plants when they’re ‘over’ and change arrangements around.
Recycle a container to make a small pond
Even the smallest garden can have a pond or two. You can make a pond out of anything waterproof, from a bucket or barrel to big plastic tray. It’s important to make sure that creatures can get in and out of container ponds, so have different levels of planting and also vegetation.