7 Garden Design Tips for Small Spaces

The desire to maximise a small space for many different functions and can often cause one to try and cram too much into a small space, creating a rather messy and cluttered feel.

There are a few tips to keep in mind when planning a small garden, courtyard or patio garden to help maximise the feeling of space.

  1. Try and limit the functions that are only absolutely necessary for one particular area. For example if a washing line is paramount but so is an entertaining space, then try and make one (the one you don’t use as much) a flexible ‘fold-away’ option, by using a fold away washing line, or seating that doubles as storage etc.
  2. For paving or tiled areas, always try and use the largest format tiles or paving to reduce the number of grout lines. This will maximise the ground plane and simplify it, echoing the clean lines of the sky above. Use grout in a light shade rather than darker than the tiles/pavers.
  3. Light-coloured materials like tiles, wall paint and furniture help to increase the feeling of space and draw the eye out of the space rather than in, giving an illusion of more space.
  4. Use mirrors to reflect light into a small space and reflect key points making the space seem much bigger.
  5. Restrict the number of plant varieties to bring cohesion and an illusion of a flowing, rather than bitty, space.
  6. Choose vertical or narrow foliage plants that allow a lot of light to filter through. Good choices for patios and courtyards are small bamboos, Nandina domestica, grasses, Phormiums, Dietes and Irises.
  7. Use a light strip around the perimeter of the paving or lighting the perimeter with a tube or spot lighting can draw the eye out of the centre of the space and so increase the feeling of space.

Credit to Jamie Durie, a fantastic Aussie garden designer as most of these tips came from his wonderful book, Patio.

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Let’s plan your landscaping project together!

We plan, install and maintain award-winning landscapes for our commercial clients and project partners. Clients who wish to add function, value and inspiration to their outdoor spaces and properties.

Our roots are in Cape Town, but our footprint stretches deep into southern Africa.