10 Garden Design Tips to Create a Beautiful Small Garden

Thinking of designing your own garden but you have no idea where to start? Check out these essential garden design tips for a small garden.

1. Think of plants as the icing on the cake
One of the most popular misconceptions about garden design is that it's all about plants. In fact, it goes quite the opposite direction.

What you need to do is to pick up a pen and paper and draw the shape of your garden area. Suppose your garden area is a rectangular shape, dedicate 1/3 of the area to lawn, 1/3 of the area to plants and 1/3 of the area to the patio. This is a very simple yet effective ratio that will make your garden look pleasing and it's comfortable to sit around too.

2. Create the illusion
In case your garden area is a bit small like a backyard of a townhouse, you can play tricks with your brain by choosing the paving with the smallest size. When you see lots of paving stabs, your brain will be tricked to think that the area is bigger than it is.

3. Use some large leaf plants
When you use some large leaf plants in a small garden, your brain will also think that space is bigger, like a jungle.

4. Pick the color pallets
Less is more when it comes to colors so if you plan on designing your own green paradise, be sure to limit the colors of your plants to one or two pallets. When color isn’t the main attraction, there are all sorts of shapes and textures to look at in a calm and relaxing way.

5. Add some vertical elements
Another layer of the height such as planting rails will add some focal point to your small garden.

6. Mix up the groups
A garden should always have the ability to surprise people and one of the easiest ways to do this is to use odd-numbered groups when it comes to plants and trees.

Mix up the plants and use them in groups that are distinctive from each other. For example: if you plant a mix of three flower sprays and two mounding flowers in your front yard, use one flower spray and two mounding flowers in your backyard while adding ornamental grass instead of two more flower sprays.

7. Build a relaxation area
Your garden will only have the desired impact if you build a relaxation area you can enjoy it from. A garden without an entertainment zone is similar to having a garage and still parking your car in the driveway.

However, we are talking about a small garden. Then, the idea to create the extra seating is to use the raised planters that you may sit on if you like.

8. Show your creativity with lighting
Okay so, your garden looks amazing during the day but what happens during the night? What happens when you invite your friends to have a backyard party and it’s all dark. That’s right, you want to avoid that by providing good lighting for your plants.

Anyway, just enough lighting is too basic. What you can do to add the magical element to your small garden is to use LED lighting. You can install it to highlight any changes in level.

9. Use square-foot gardening
Many people love the look of colorful vegetables and herbs. In order to maximize the space utilization, you are going to create a section of a 1-foot square (you can have as many squares as space allows). In one square foot, you can grow something like,

- One tomato or
- One cauliflower or
- Four basil or
- Four lettuce

10. Utilize unused space
Growing a living wall of plants on the fence can look so amazing. Moreover, it may be able to help you with some privacy issues too. Moreover, growing some plants in window boxes can help to create a nice focal point.

Have you ever used any of these garden design tips for a small garden?

- Alexander, Rosemary, and Rachel Myers. The essential garden design workbook. Timber Press, 2017.

Related Article
- 7 Indoor Gardening Tips for The Absolute Beginners

Last review and update: August 27, 2018

About the Author

Patty Benjabutr is an interior design enthusiast. She loves to write about actionable home decor knowledge because she believes interior design content is something much more than a collection of beautiful photos. You can contact Patty via e-mail.