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 (tg-studio.co.uk) 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 primrose.co.uk) is another great way to give an illusion of more space and will add light.

Garden designer Jo Thompson (jothompson-garden-design.co.uk) 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 (hillier.co.uk) 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. tg-studio.co.uk

2. See the light

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

3. Wall's fair

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

4. Top table

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

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, johnlewis.com

6. Light up your life

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

7. Mellow yellow

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

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, dwell.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York