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,

Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
footballLouis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
The spider makes its break for freedom
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot