Designing for small garden spaces

As more people move toward downsizing to smaller homes, it’s not about the amount of outdoor space that matters, but how you use the tiniest spaces to create an inviting place you can enjoy all year round! Working with smaller spaces has its challenges, but it is important to keep it simple as less is always more when creating the perfect outdoor space.

Optimizing space
Keep in mind that you want to maximise your useability of every square metre of your garden when designing your outdoor area. Try not to clutter your floor with pot plant arrangements, tables and other bits and bobs that can obstruct easy navigation of the space.

Comfortable seating, whether used for outdoor dining or a spot of relaxation, is a major drawcard of any small outside space. If you’re looking for a place to spend your downtime, we recommend a built-in timber bench that hugs the edge of the wall. This suggestion allows for comfortable seating without confining the floor space too much. All you need is some soft cushioning, outdoor blankets and your favourite book and you will have the perfect outdoor oasis to enjoy all year round!

However, if it’s outdoor entertaining you’re after, try maximising your outdoor space by using all available floor space for the foundation of a generously sized table and comfortable chairs. There is no point in opting for a smaller sized table setting, only to later sit around a cramped table!

Picking the right plants
If you like plants, opt for vertical and use the walls not the floor! Vertical plants assist in building a sense of softness and intimacy, by using a vertical wall and structure to grow vines and other plants on, all without compromising floor space.

Yet, if your garden space is big enough, consider these great plants which need little water and fussing over to look great!

• Blue Ginger – Flowers from summer to autumn in the subtropics. Grows best in semi-shade.
• Mussaenda – In Perth, this plant flowers in autumn and is deciduous in winter. It needs full sun and compost-rich soil and is suitable for growing in containers.
• Spider Lily - For best results, give this drought tolerant clumping lily well composted soil in either full sun or part shade. It’s expensive to buy but is a striking sight at full flower!
• Syzygium Paniculatum – This has a neat, slender, upright nature which means it is a great plant for hedging, topiary, containers or a courtyard tree. It is best suited to warm temperatures and subtropical climates.

And if your garden allows for grass we recommend clumping temple grass, with a tufted, mossy appearance, temple grass is a great alternative to turf. The grass is sun and shade tolerant yet it may lose colour slightly in winter when grown in the south of WA. For a dramatic feature, try placing large white concrete pavers through the grass in a chequerboard fashion, helping bring your outdoor area to life. This feature also allows the pavers to shed rain onto the grassed area, reducing the need for watering – easy on the eye and functional!

Creating garden harmony
Finally, keep in mind that the true test of a good design is if it still looks as good a couple of years later! Make sure your garden space has a balanced mix between the necessities of practical gardening and the pleasures of being in it, whatever the season.
• Make sure you place your plants in a well thought out location, letting them mature without overcrowding one another.
• Ensure that from wherever you stand, there is a view, pattern or a setting that will engage your mind and senses.
• And, don’t neglect it! Be sure to maintain your garden features to ensure it remains stimulating to the eye all year round.