When every inch of your garden is precious, it's worth having a few space-saving ideas up your sleeve to make the most of your bijou space.


1. Leave some room

It can be tempting to fill your garden with wonderful things, but a bit of breathing space created with paving, stepping stones, pebbles or a patch of lawn (real or artificial), is a must for a feeling of openness and to avoid a cluttered look.


2. Break up the space

It may seem counterintuitive, but breaking up a small garden into distinct areas will make it feel bigger. For example, designate an area for relaxing and dining with the help of a two-seater outdoor setting. Or dedicate a corner to edibles, with a small raised garden bed. Discover how to grow herbs and vegies in a raised garden bed.

small garden ideas

Left: a bit of breathing space is a must for a feeling of openness. Right: break up your small garden with a compact raised garden bed.

3. Go vertical

When room on the ground is at a premium, the only way is up. Rather than taking up precious room with large sculptures, add interest by hanging outdoor wall art. Or go green and fill a vertical garden with your favourite plants. Vertical gardens are not just practical (think herbs), they give your space more height and this in turn creates the illusion of a larger space.


4. Play with perspective

Like a magician plays tricks, so too can you, using plants with large leaves at the front and finer foliage towards the back of your garden, to create the illusion of space. Discover plants with big leaves.


5. Love the shade

Give dark corners that might otherwise be forgotten some love, with gorgeous, shade-loving foliage the likes of coleus, ferns, hosta and plectranthus. Click for more shade-loving foliage.

small garden ideas

Give otherwise forgotten spots love with shade-loving plants like (from left to right) ferns, coleus and hosta.

6. Create levels

Using different levels in the garden is a dynamic way to break up the space, giving the illusion of a bigger area overall. If your space is flat as a tack, try adding levels with raised garden planters.


7. Create a journey

Nothing makes a garden seem smaller than being able to take it all in at a glance. Create a feeling of space by hiding areas with screens or hedges. This tricks the brain into imagining there’s more garden, beyond what can be seen.


8. Forget the seasons

In a small space you can’t afford to sacrifice precious room to plants that don’t pull their weight every season. Plants such as alternanthera, cordyline, kangaroo paw and ornamental kale will provide colour and interest any time of year. If you want to enjoy seasonal plants like spring-flowering bulbs, plant your favourites in a pot, then store away when not flowering.

small garden ideas

Plants in a small garden should pull their weight year-round, like kangaroo paw, alternanthera and cordyline.

9. Strive for unity

Whether it's plants, pots, furniture or landscaping materials, the colours and textures you use should all work together to create harmony. Limiting your palette in a small space is essential to reducing clutter and keeping that feeling of openness.


10. Bonsai

No space is too small for bonsai. Not only can you enjoy greenery in your space, you’ll also own a piece of living art. Most outdoor bonsai need a bright but sheltered spot where they can spend half the day in direct sunlight. The great news is just about any plant can be crafted into a bonsai specimen. Here’s how to make your own.


11. Espalier

If your space is teensy-weensy but you'd love to grow trees, espalier is an ancient technique that’s as handy today as it was in ancient Rome where the practice originated. Using a wall or fence, you can grow anything from oranges and olives to camellias and bay trees flat against a lattice or trellis.

small garden ideas

Left: grow trees in your small space using the ancient technique of espalier. Right: No space is too small for bonsai.

12. Pleaching

Essentially a ‘hedge on stilts’, pleaching is a way of shaping and training tree branches to create a raised, interwoven hedge that appears to be on stilts. When planted in rows, the exposed, uniform trunks of pleached trees create space at ground level while providing privacy and greenery higher up. Pleached trees do need regular care and pruning so are best for the avid gardener.


13. Small trees

Adding an element of scale and height creates the feeling of a little bit more expanse. If you have the space, great trees for small spaces include Norway Globe Maple (Acer platanoides 'Globosum'), Eucalyptus caesia ‘Silver Princess’, native frangipani (Hymenosporum flavum), Pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii), small flowering gums and water gum (Tristaniopsis laurin ‘Luscious’).

small garden ideas

Make the most of walls and fences with climbing plants or a vertical garden.

14. Climbing plants

Make the most of walls and fences and free up floor space with climbing plants. Colourful choices include bougainvillea, Chinese wisteria, climbing roses, Madagascar jasmine, orange trumpet vine, pandorea and star jasmine. You can even grow climbing edibles like peas and broad beans.


15. Hanging and railing planters

Hanging and railing planters are a quick and easy way to add an almost endless choice of plants to your small space. Hint: trailing plants that tumble attractively over the edge, like silver-leafed Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’ or colourful calibrachoa look stunning in hanging and railing planters.

Small garden ideas

Railing and hanging planters are a quick and easy way to add plants to your small garden.