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,

'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London