We love designing small gardens because there’s more to them than meets the eye. For example, we’re often asked to improve garden biodiversity whilst prioritising a garden that is easy to maintain. The complexity of thought that goes into such gardens creates a space that feels very unlike gardens of any other size.

Every centimetre counts and a successful small garden design maximises the use of space to make it feel bigger than it actually is ‒ a true oasis catering to your practical needs. 

Our 22 years’ experience gives you the peace of mind that you’re in not only very knowledgeable hands but also highly creative hands. It’s one thing designing a garden but another building it and yet another living with it. Our gardens are designed to stand the test of time and look just as good 10 years later.

Small Courtyard Garden

We designed this courtyard garden using a pastoral colour palette with an overall subtlety in mind. This goes hand in hand with an absence of any central focus, which allows a sense of spaciousness and tranquillity to prevail Every part of the design is essential.

The choice of a tiled surface in a small urban garden design like this also helps to open up the space.

We think it makes an ideal setting for socialising with friends and family. This design is a favourite in and around London, while in Surrey and the surrounding counties, bolder styles tend to be more popular.

Pastel flower garden

When choosing plants for a small garden, it’s essential to avoid bright, loud colours such as pinks and reds, which can overpower restricted spaces. We didn’t want to make this garden too busy so we opted for purples and blues, which still create depth and interest. The natural shade of the decking balances the dazzling white of the artificial rendered wall.

We think the design looks fantastic with its quirky bijou feel. This is what making the most of a small garden is all about. By including a variety of textures, forms and colours, there’s plenty for the eye to take in.

CONTEMPORARY SEATING AREA

Bright paving is generally a must in a small garden, reflecting the light and opening up the space. Creating rooms may feel like you are closing the garden in, but it actually has the opposite effect. Creating hidden areas to sit in can distinguish different parts of the garden. The more interest there is, the more the eye is led and the bigger the garden can feel.

The balance of hard and soft landscaping is key, with the lawn often being the key to a successful design. In order to keep this garden balanced, we added a small hedge to minimise what would be an overpowering wall. It also frames the water feature.

If comfort is not a priority and it’s more important that the garden looks great, then cube-like seating compliments the design. A floating bench can provide a much-needed escape while taking up very little room and not imposing itself at all on the garden.

Family Victorian Garden

Here’s another example of a less-is-more approach creating a clean, open space mixed with a delicacy of planting that lures you into the back seating area. We designed planting such as balls and pleached trees that take up very little space while providing structure and form.

When thinking through styles, it’s also important to think through maintenance. This garden may look low-maintenance but it’s actually medium-maintenance. The balls and the pleached tree need to be pruned monthly. 

In small gardens, every centimetre counts. So a pleached tree is very much our go-to plant, with its tall, imposing form. While it takes up very little space, it can also be especially helpful when trying to hide a neighbouring house or window.

Modern Rustic Garden

With a narrow garden, it’s a good idea to keep furniture to a minimum. You can just use bean bags and folding chairs if needs be. That leaves you to focus on using exciting small garden design elements to open up the space.

This style tends to be popular with people that host gatherings involving lots of people. This client hosts up to 15 people. Such a number would not fit in a conventional seating arrangement, hence bringing the chairs out from inside and using bean bags.

Here, we surrounded a central island of shrubs and trees with light slabs and an angular hedgerow. It has the feel of a miniature, contemporary-meets-traditional expanse. The modern-but-aged outdoor fireplace completes this effect. It serves as the focal point, and with its contemporary form and rustic colour, it’s a touchstone for the theme of the garden.

Tranquil Urban Garden

There’s a tendency among our clients to see an uneven garden as a drawback. Many seem to think variable heights are a poor blank canvas to work with. But as garden designers, we see them as an opportunity.

This client especially liked box hedging, which adds fresh visual interest with a patchwork of differing greens. Most gardens with differing levels have a weight of vegetation. It’s far better to look at lots of nice green textures than a wall.

You can see that the existing height differences provide a framework to separate the spaces. This can bring these genuinely interesting forms together with any kind of theme you like. The lawn, water feature, steps and levels all have a sleek, modern feel.

FAMILY GARDEN

It’s important to look at a small garden critically and consider how to enhance the space and make it look much bigger. One way of doing this when the garden is longer than it is wide is to break the lawn up in the centre, making each length (front to back) shorter than the width. The rectangular lawn pushes the garden out, making it look much wider than it actually is.

We are even more reliant on the grass in a small garden to open the garden up. We used a dark grey paving stone because the neutrality of the stone complements the green lawn.

There are not many gravels that provide an organic look without getting kicked around everywhere. This is why we designed a slate-chipping pathway. A paved pathway would have looked far too harsh.

SMALL WATER GARDEN

Water gardens aren’t for the faint-hearted. They can be hard to maintain and attract lots of flies and other unwanted insects. That said, if the budget allows, a filtration system can keep the water looking fresh and clear, which will attract far fewer flies and insects.

The popularity of ponds and herb gardens is on the rise due to our clients’ increasing need to reconnect with nature. What better way to do this than by having a pond that attracts lots of frogs and newts? Marginal plants can provide a breeding ground for the pond’s inhabitants.

Just peering over a pond is never as enthralling as walking through it or over it, which is why we designed a stepping-stone walkway. The style of the stepping stones adds a modern stamp to the garden and leads to a confined seating area at the back of the garden.

SECLUDED SEATING AREA

A garden enclave is a hidden area at the back of a garden that can provide a welcome escape from a busy household. Often, we are asked to design such enclaves with minimal seating such as this bench in the middle of a heavily planted raised border.

We used a honed block to almost look like a gangplank on a boat, taking you from the lawn into the seating area. We weren’t tempted to stop the blocks where the patio starts and instead took the blocks into the paving area. This integrates the garden and stops it from feeling disconnected.

To create a gentle backdrop, the plants are not overly colourful; instead, we used lots of plants with different greens and textures.

CORTEN STEEL SEATING AREA

There is no better place for modern art to meet soft, textured planting than in a garden. The fusion between cutting-edge technology and delicately planted borders creates harmony. Where each item requires the other, a garden with steel boxes would look a little odd without feather grasses to balance them.

We like to design gardens that are on the cutting edge of garden design, pushing boundaries and bringing together styles and themes that are not often paired.

We used corten steel for the back walls. This steel soon goes a lovely golden colour, and its industrial nature allowed for an almost cottage planting scheme in front, with lots of hostas and foxgloves. It’s another example of how we need a balance and how one can’t exist without the other.

 

MODERN GARDEN

This is a decadent display of planting, water and hard landscaping that uses walls in specific areas to make a feature of the item in front. You can see a large rock that has a sculptured effect. The wall emulates the feature with the tree planted to minimise the rock’s impact on the garden, providing subtlety.

The groups of yellow and orange lupins are enticing, making what would be a very dark corner much brighter. It shows how a few architectural flowers can draw your attention. Our attention should always be drawn to the corners of the garden as this triangulates a garden and makes it feel much bigger than it actually is.
The water further adds to that journey, creating a garden of balance, with each item working together in harmony.

THE LIFESTYLE GARDEN

When a small garden needs to be rather utilitarian, it’s important to blanket as much vegetation as possible. Here, we did not need much in the way of different plant forms, textures or colours. We needed as much green as possible to minimise the severity of the hard landscaping.

We planted small grasses around a sculpture, and the colour of the sculpture nicely matches the colour of the decking. The grasses create a theme and complement the modern decking. We planted bamboo to the side of the garden not only to hide the fence but also to provide a lush backdrop.

The areas should feel like pockets, which is why we designed this garden with one seating area in the front left and another in the back right. This zoning allows a disconnect, creating a very different feel in each space. After all, a garden should not look the same from each vista.

THE BONSAI GARDEN

Platforms are a great way of creating an escape, giving the feeling of leaving one’s troubles behind on the gangplank. To emulate that feeling, water is often used to frame such platforms. How a garden feels is as important as how it looks. There’s little point in designing a garden that looks nice but isn’t enticing.

The balance between old and new often creates a symbiosis. Using only modern materials can mean the garden feels stark and very detached from the surrounding landscape. To connect with that landscape, a softer, older style of decking platform has been used.

To marry the contemporary platform with the surrounding garden, we planted lots of lovely Bonsais in the existing borders. Their architectural form nicely connects with the seating area. 

THE TEXTURED GARDEN

We humans are very much drawn to the elements, and sitting around a fire is relaxing and soothing. In this garden, to make a feature of the fireplace, the rendered wall is more pronounced around the fireplace, creating a chimney effect and providing an alcove to slot the seating in.

We planted trees in front of the wall to lessen its impact. A word of caution: when installing decking in the corners of the garden it can create a very dark and musty effect. Use a lighter colour paving stone instead as this brightens the darkest of corners.

We planted lots of different textures around the decking. Ferns give a contemporary forest floor look that connects nicely with the decking and works within the required theme.

THE CHELSEA GARDEN

White walls and light paving stones make any garden feel much bigger. With so many neighbouring houses, this garden could feel dark and depressing. The white walls brighten the garden and allow for a bigger seating area. The back seating area is relatively large, but the walls and plants take your attention away from the functional space.

The barbecue is carefully situated away from the seating area to keep the smoke blowing over the social space to a minimum. The client wanted a garden that felt open, clean and roomy.

The density of planting stops the paving feeling too harsh and overpowering. A garden should be a place of beauty and needs much more than a large patio.

Mediterranean Garden

Mediterranean gardens have to be carefully considered. Here, the client wanted a seating area, a water feature and to feel like they were in a jungle. It was a lot to get into a small space.

Fortunately, they only required two seats and a little table. We placed these in front of a dramatic water feature that includes three stepping stones to prevent it feeling like a small swimming pool.

The delicately placed pebbles on the feature wall further enhance the required style, with lush tropical plants behind. The borders are narrow but dug out very deep in order to provide the plants with a sufficient growing media.