All gardens great and small

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Struggling to make the most of a tiny courtyard or terrace?
Don't give up hope and deck it over – there are plenty of ways to
bring life to the smallest spaces.

An Englishman's home may be his castle but chances are, particularly if you live in a town or city, that it no longer includes much in the way of a garden. According to Defra, less than 44 per cent of flats or apartments have private outdoor space. And as the sun finally (tries to) beat down on us it's time to make the most of this prized possession.

Architect Thomas Griem of TG Studio ( says the secret to making the most of a small garden is to use every inch of the space. "The most common mistake people make is to push everything to the edges in a bid to keep the central area clear, but that just makes the space look small and empty. Choose your favourite piece and put it bang in the centre," he says.

Pale colours reflect light and help a space feel bigger so paint a fence white or choose pale wood or stone flooring. "Keep base colours neutral and introduce brighter tones with accessories like cushions, crockery or candles," Griem says. An outdoor mirror (try is another great way to give an illusion of more space and will add light.

Garden designer Jo Thompson ( says multi-purpose pieces are the way to go. "Make sure everything performs more than one function – raised beds can double as seating, as can stairs. And you always need storage, so try to find benches that incorporate storage."

Make the most of walls and fences by planting climbers or a vertical garden and invest in one good tree, which can provide a focal point. Make sure its roots won't damage your foundations as it grows – Thompson says a birch is a good choice. Try Hillier garden centres ( for a wide choice of trees.

1. Sitting pretty


This small garden designed by architects TG Studio includes a dining and seating area framed by densely planted bamboo. Pale stone paving and natural materials are brightened up with colourful cushions.

2. See the light

Tealights and candles add atmosphere and charm and allow you to enjoy long, balmy nights outdoors. Cage tealight holder, £12,

3. Wall's fair

Create a small vertical garden and grow salad and herbs with these neat wall planters. £9.95,

4. Top table

Multi-functional furniture, such as this table that also doubles as a stool, is useful in small spaces. Applaro table, £25,

5. Contain your excitement

One of the pleasures of outdoor space is al fresco dining. We like this bright jug, part of a collection of tableware designed for outdoor use. Jug, £10,

6. Light up your life

Clever LED lighting, whitewashed walls and sculptural planting give this courtyard garden an illusion of space. £160,

7. Mellow yellow

This yellow mini lantern will look just as good in daylight hours as it does at night. TU lantern, £2.33,

8. Feather in your cap

If your space is too small for outdoor furniture, scatter a few floor cushions over a rug to make an informal seating space. Parrot floor cushion, £39.95,

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)