It is one of the most exciting times when planning your small garden. Think of your small garden as an extension of your home. Think of it as an outdoor room and you can create in this room whatever you want. There are three key aspects to consider when designing your small garden:

  • What is your budget for designing your garden?
  • How to plan your Small Garden layout?
  • What type of garden do you want?

How much should I spend on a garden?

There is no right or wrong answer. You can spend absolutely nothing, to spending a fortune on a garden design and implementation and you can go with something in between. The choice is yours. If you would like to spend less, then you might want to consider recycling many things like plants, post, etc. If you have a bit bigger budget, you can choose new materials and forms.

How to plan your Small Garden layout?

Start by outlining the rough shape of your garden. Sometimes it could be hard to get this right as very few yards have a square layout. A good tip is to look on Google maps which will show you the more precise outline of your garden shape. If you prepared to spend a little more money on it, you could buy a scale drawing of your plot from the surveyor. And I find it very useful when I am planning to design a garden.

Once you have your outline down on paper, you can start thinking about what kind of spaces you want in your garden and whether you want big spaces or small spaces. So it is worth considering – do you want significant open space areas, or do you want more intimate parts of the garden.

In that in mind, you need to start filling your garden in shades. I would start working from the house, and I would work from the doorway. So you can now start putting on the paper some objects in the garden layout. It is vital to consider putting down on paper circles, rectangles and squares, entire shapes as you don’t want to put down anything to bitty. And you can put this on the paper like you are creating a modern art picture.

They should be an interlocking shapes and creating a shape that would fill your entire garden layout on your paper. At this point, we don’t even think about what different shapes represent — all we want and try to do, to experiment with the various forms. So we come up with the arrangement that we are happy, and that looks nice on paper.

On your paper, you can create a few intimate areas using squares and shapes that will represent a different part of your garden. You can use this principle on any garden size. It is the same principle whatever size of the garden you have.

What type of garden do you want?

Once you are happy with your arrangements and shapes on your paper, you can start to consider what different surfaces they might represent. If I want to design a low maintenance garden with big open spaces for entertaining, then I mainly deal with the area of paving, area of brick, area of gravel. So each different square might a slightly different material. Or I might repeat that, and I might start with area of paving and perhaps edge the next square with bricks or fill it with gravel. But overall I have a beautiful big open space where I concentrate on various textures.

If you were more interested in creating a garden which was a little bit more intimate, you might do something completely different. You might use the interlocking shape that you’ve got, to hard surfacing your garden area parts. Going from your large terrace, perhaps moving through transition points to paths, and a back area of a garden.

And you will surround areas your shapes with the planting. It will make your garden area a little bit more mysterious, as you won’t be able to see the entire garden at the same time. And it will create a different fill to the space as if you would leave the area open using the hard materials.

Putting points of interest in your Small Garden

Now we have decided where are our planting and our hard areas landscaping are, we can start thinking about points of interest. I always consider the windows and the doors of the house or where we look out to the garden.

Kitchen window usually is one of the most important windows into the garden (if this applies to your house), as we do tend to spend a lot of time in our kitchen. This is an essential spot, and you need to make sure that by looking out of the window, it looks great the entire year around.

You can pick up a small tree or beautiful plant that would look good all year round. It won’t get too big. Perhaps it will have several seasons of interest, maybe a beautiful shape and either blossom or berries on top of all of that. That way you can have something interesting to look at all year round. And this might also be something you might consider putting a lighting on, so in the evening the rest of the garden is dark, you’ve got something that looks great.

You get to appreciate them from several points of view from the garden and not only looking at them from the house but also looking back on them from within the garden itself.

Designing a garden is a very simple process

To recap, designing a garden is a straightforward process. You start with a basic outline of your garden (remember to put in your house of course on the paper). Start putting shapes on the paper with squares, circles, rectangles by overlapping them, to form a pleasing pattern. Once you’ve got the design you like, you can start thinking about what materials you are using. And once you’ve got that nailed, you can start thinking about the planting. Also, you can put points of interest in your garden in the form of a tree or plants that look great the entire year around.

You mustn’t forget heights of course. Think about in your garden of three-dimension, which is essential. But overall, it’s an incredibly simple process to design your garden if you follow these simple principles. These are the principles all garden designers use when they are planning a garden. It doesn’t matter whether it is a courtyard or big spaces of an estate home; the principles remain the same.

If you need more inspirations and ideas, please see below:

RHS Encyclopedia of Garden Design: Planning, Building and Planting Your Perfect Outdoor Space

RHS Encyclopedia of Garden Design: Planning, Building and Planting Your Perfect Outdoor Space

 

RHS How to Create your Garden: Ideas and Advice for Transforming your Outdoor Space

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So, give it a go, it’s not rocket science.

Happy gardening!

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15 thoughts on “How to design a Small Garden”

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I never thought I could come across this kind of information online and I’m glad I did. Our new house has a lot of outdoor space and I really wish to start a garden for myself. I’ve been incapacitated because I don’t know how to go about it before but having read through this post, I have a lot of ideas on how best to start and go about it. I need to get started with the planning immediately. Thanks so much for this information

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    Tracy, thank you very much for your comments. I am glad that you found the information helpful! All the best, Olga

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This post is very interesting for me because I really do love my garden but it is quite small, I have also been trying to think of better ways to use the limited space I have, so I am very pleased that I stumbled across your post here, I love the look of the way the small garden is designed at the top of this post and reading your website has given me some very interesting and valuable ideas which I can incorporate into my own garden, thank you for sharing.  

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    Thank you so much, Russ, for your comments! I am happy that you found it helpful! All the best, Olga

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I’m a fan of gardens and I have one in my house by my courtyard. It gives that visual of nature right in front of you. This post have really explained what it takes to design a small garden. When I was planning mine, I had enough money so I made it really beautiful, my cousin and I have almost same taste in everything so he made the pattern of the garden. This article is really educating, it’ll be very useful.

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Hi this is a really good guide on how to design a garden!

I once helped a friend design and build a little garden, he got a new place and the garden was totally unattended and very messy, but he roughly knew what he wanted to do with it, so we worked together and built up a new little garden. And the really cool thing was we didn’t spend a dime on the building materials as the bricks, concrete slabs and wood planks we used were all recycled materials, and he was really happy about his new garden!

Thanks for sharing this and keep up the good work!

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    Tim, thank you very much for your comments! I am glad that you found it useful!

    Warm regards,

    Olga

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I love having home gardens. I usually don’t follow any particular steps, as you have laid out here, but this tips are great to try out for a much better gardening approach. Most times, I spend nothing, except for the tools I used, and then I source for the plants. Then together with my siblibgs, we do the cultivating.

Thanks for the tips.

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ٌWow,This is amazing post. I really got impressed.Until today I thought that gardening would be very difficult and was always wonder how to design a small garden. I always had trouble arranging flowers and plants for my grandmother since she got aging.She has a nice garden but I thought it could be better if she redesign her garden with new plants and flowers.But to be honest, I had no clue how to explain to her. This post beautifully explains the principles of gardening in simple language. I am really happy that I can apply these principles in my grandmother’s garden design and have a nice and interesting garden. Thanks

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    Thank you so much Shirian. I am glad that my post was helpful!

    Warm regards,

    Olga

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The step by step guide makes this seem easy to follow and takes away that overwhelmed feeling when kicking off the process! Thanks!

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    Amy,

    Many thanks for reading my post and for your comments! I am glad that you found it useful.

    All the best,
    Olga

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I love the idea of playing around with different shapes on the paper & not yet thinking about what they represent, to see what looks good. I will definitely be using it when I start to create my own garden.

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