11 July 2023

Expert hacks for making the most of a small garden

11 July 2023

During summertime, life tends to revolve around your outdoor space.

But how do you maximize the potential of a petite patio, snug balcony or less-than-generous green space, so it has the illusion of being bigger than it is?

“As you would in any room inside your home, take some time to think about how you would like your garden to look – and what you are most likely to use it for,” advises Wayfair’s resident style advisor, Dee Fontenot.

Whether you want a place for al fresco entertaining, or a peaceful space to potter around and drink in the view, there’s scope for the smallest of spaces…

Choose wisely

“Invest in multifunctional pieces to maximise an outdoor space,” suggests Helena Davies, head of home buying at Barker and Stonehouse.

“For example, a coffee table can be used as a footstool if you add a large cushion on top, and a compact stool can double up as a side table or extra seating for guests.”

Leave room to breathe

It’s important not to overcrowd an outdoor area.

“While it may be tempting to choose large sofas that maximise outdoor lounging space, it’s best to opt for furniture that sits comfortably within the space – still leaving room to move around and enjoy the open flow of an outdoor area,” suggests Davies.

“A few scatter cushions and an outdoor rug go a long way to create a cosy feel. Add a solar floor lamp or lantern to create light and spaciousness in the evening, and you’re ready for entertaining.”

Fold-away favourites

“The go-to in any area where space is limited – fold-away items!” says Fontenot.

“A little bistro set is ideal for a smaller garden, as not only can you move it around to either be in or out of the sun, depending on the temperature and time of day, but you can easily stow it away when it’s not in use.”

Vertical decorating

When you want to get the most out of a small space, set your sights high.

“Vertical styling is key in small gardens to avoid using up valuable floor space,” says Fontenot.

“Walls and fences can be used to hang festoon lighting, and hooks are an essential addition for hanging baskets, plant pots or garden hand tools.”

Just as you would inside your home, she suggests keeping the ground free of general clutter: “An instant way to make any space inside or out appear bigger than it is.”

Reflect light and space

“Garden mirrors are a fabulous way to create a focal point, add light and make the overall space feel bigger,” enthuses Fontenot.

“A tiny plot can be totally transformed by using clever horizontal slatted fencing with mirrors inset to give a feeling of space and light.

“Or a mix of large floor standing and medium-sized wall-hung mirrors, reflecting light around the garden,” she adds.


“Potscaping is the trend of artistically arranging flowers, plants and shrubs in pots – and can create a big impact in a small space,” says Patty Willems, PR manager at Elho.

Use a few clever containers and plants with plenty of personality, suggests Willems, and you can always up the ante with wheeled statement planters.

“Filling them with different types of palms and grasses will create a tropical vibe – and make you feel like you’re on holiday every time you take a seat.”

To brighten up a dull corner she recommends an array of colourful plant pots in different sizes. “Pair larger pots with taller shrubs or climbers at the back of the arrangement, and place bedding and border plants towards the front, as this will help create depth and interest.”

If you’re super short on floor space, Willems says you can still create an effective display with pots that hook onto the top of fences, or wrap around drainpipes to let nature flourish in even the smallest spaces.

Create a living wall

“A living wall is an excellent way to add interest and style to any outdoor area, regardless of how large or small it is – all you need is a sturdy wall in a sunny spot, and of course, plenty of plants!” says Kate Lindley of Baby Bio.

She recommends succulents: “These hardy plants come in all kinds of weird and wonderful shapes and sizes, they are happy both indoors and outside, and they’re relatively easy to look after.”

All they need to thrive is plenty of sunlight, occasional watering with a good quality fertiliser, and sandy soil to prevent roots from becoming waterlogged, says Lindley.

“They also have shallow roots, which makes them the ideal plant for living walls as they don’t require much space to grow – in fact, in nature they are often found growing out of rocks or cliff edges thanks to their ability to thrive in low-soil environments.”

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