While we’d all love to have the rolling landscapes of Capability Brown tucked away behind our houses, for the vast majority of us, that’s a pipe dream.

Fear not, however, as a small, garden can, when carefully formed, be just as effective in creating a peaceful space where you can get back in touch with nature.

In order to maximise the potential of a smaller space, it’s very important to carefully select plants that will work hard, and fulfil multiple functions for you. The simplest example of this in action is plants that have multiple seasons of interest, like Amelanchier lamarckii which produces varying colours through spring, summer, and autumn, while also providing structure in winter. On a related matter, a garden full of perennials is something to carefully avoid, as it will leave you with exposed… everything during winter months.

When working with limited space, obscuring the boundaries is a vital technique to make the area feel larger and more open than it actually is. Use of climbers and tall shrubs to hide fences and walls is a simple technique to carry this out. Hedges are softer boundaries by nature, but it’s often desirable to soften them further, just putting some other plants in front of them will do the job well enough.

While it may seem counter-intuitive, dividing up a space with soft boundaries can actually make it seem larger and more comprehensive. Non-dense foliage is especially useful, as it creates a boundary without completely hiding the space from your view.

It’s important not to overload on small plants. While it may seem that you can fit more of them into a smaller space, in fact, too many small plants will tend to make the whole garden feel cramped, and even smaller than it really is. Introducing an appropriately-sized tree can do a lot to generate height and structure, as well as bring the garden firmly into three dimensions.

Well, I hope this has been helpful to you in thinking how to make the most of your garden space. This is one of a series of blogs we will be writing about small gardens

Thomas Rider

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