Small Garden Design Tips

6 Garden Design Tips for a Small Garden

Do you dream of having a beautiful garden but just don’t seem to have the space for it? I, for one, believe that limited space is not necessarily a hindrance to beautiful garden design. As someone who has made plants and gardens an extension of my life, it is my philosophy that there’s always space for some greenery in anyone’s home.

Perhaps the biggest challenge lies not in making a garden fit into your small backyard, but in coming up with a small yet successful garden design that can fit almost anywhere indoors or out.

While it may be easy to design a large garden, designing a smaller garden can prove to be more of a challenge. Day in and day out, I meet customers that face this particular garden design dilemma.

So to help you get the most out of your small backyard, today I thought I’d provide you with some of my best garden design tips for a small backyard.

1. Make it an extension of your home

The best way to incorporate a garden into your home despite having limited space is to make it a part of the house. To achieve this, I suggest using a patio-style or alfresco garden design. This turns your outdoor living area into a cosy spot or enclave that doubles as a small garden.

The soothing sounds of running water and some lush green plants close to living areas in your home are proven to have significant health benefits. These health benefits include cleaner air, stress reduction and general well being improvements.

A small group of pots in the corner with some well chosen plants are all that is often needed, transforming a hard look tiled patio into a tranquil oasis of relaxation.

For those who would rather watch the footy on weekends instead of care for the plants, I have a full potted garden design package for patio or alfresco style gardens. Our Light Work package includes cosy cube pots, an urn water feature and some architectural plants. These plants when placed on your patio where the rain falls need less than 6 waters a year, we have tested it! To make this kit extremely low maintenance we have included polished river pebbles, a special long life potting mix and a fertiliser that lasts six months. We can even install it for you!

2. Tier them up!

If space is a premium, using it wisely is a must. One way to make a whole variety of plants fit in your existing space is to use tiered planters. This will help you keep plenty of greenery without taking up a lot of floor space. Here at Cherry Road Nursery, we have some special tiered plant stands that will come in handy in arranging your plants and maximising the space in your small garden design.

Hanging baskets can also be used in small spaces to increase the growing area. One of our all time favourite and one of the best flowering plants of all time the Sunpatiens makes a superb hanging basket patio plant.

3. Steer clear from trees

Trees and large plants are usual garden fixtures however, with limited space the kind of plants you choose will have a major effect on your overall garden design. While trees may look great when seen from afar, you don’t really want to be living under one.

Choose plants that grow less than a meter in height for you courtyard or potted gardens. Small shade or indoor plants are available in a huge range of interesting colours and textures. When grouped together planted in some old glazed or terracotta post these make a great feature.

Some other plants that are ideal for your small outdoor garden include our Japanese box and Murraya hedge, both of which are currently on sale!

4. Choose your accents and ornaments well

When you have limited space, your choice of decorative accents for your garden becomes all the more important. Think carefully about what the decorative pieces you choose for your design. My favourite piece of advice here is to choose this with emotion. This is your personal tranquil space so choose the ornaments that make you feel good.

For small gardens, one or two well-chosen decorative accents such as a water fountain or garden statue should do. You can also skip the décor altogether and just invest in decorative pots that will not just hold your plants but give your cosy little garden instant character.

5. Choose your  ground coverings carefully.

Small courtyards and backyards are often surrounded by house walls fences and neighbouring buildings. These all reduce the light that gets to the ground.

Traditional paved or concrete areas can attract moss and moisture.

Two alternatives to these are turf that is shade tolerant and pebbled areas with stepping stones. Both these surfaces drain water well and feel more inviting and cool in hot weather.

When it comes to the ideal turf for small gardens or shaded areas, I always tell my clients to use Sapphire buffalo grass.  For areas too shaded or to be used as paths polished river pebbles make a great low care weed free feature.

6. Make it count!

If you have a small garden, make it count by taking care of your plants. Using the right gardening supplies, from soil preparation whether in pots with great  potting mix or choosing a great garden soil like Supergrow. Maintenance in a small potted or courtyard garden bed can be reduced by 90% when the correct preparations are made starting with the soils.

This small cluster of plants seen here on my own deck gets through a whole year with little more than a couple of waterings. The combination of drought proof plants great potting mix and some twice a year throw on One Minute Fertiliser is my secret.


The best way to create a small but beautiful garden despite having limited space is to plan each purchase well. This holds true whether in choosing your plants, your pots and planters, your garden flooring, your décor, all the way down to your landscape supplies.

Feeling intimidated? If you want a stress-free process, come to the nursery so I can personally assist you and show you a special package we have that is specifically designed for small and cosy patio-style gardens.

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1 Comment
  1. Henry 1 year ago | Reply

    Nice post. We’ve just made a vertical garden to hang on our enclosed balcony. It looks great and means we can grow our own herbs without sacrificing any balcony space. Amazing.

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