If you thought that your tiny outdoor space lacked potential, then let our small garden ideas prove you wrong. This gallery is full of big ideas, for small spaces, so whether you're dealing with a little piece of a courtyard, or even just a balcony, we have the inspiration that you need to make it work even harder at looking great
From planting and landscaping tips, to innovative layouts that will suit a small garden design perfectly, we've rounded up 41 ideas from the experts to help you create your perfect outdoor space.
Keep scrolling and be sure to visit our garden ideas feature for even bigger inspiration.
- Check out our guide to garden design for loads more in-depth advice.
1. Maximise every inch of your garden by zoning your space
Do you find that you only really use one particular section of your garden? If so, dividing your space up into specific zones is a great way to maximise every inch. In this lovely modern garden by @ohmymaison there are three distinct areas for sunbathing, playing on the grass, and dining, ensuring that even the very bottom of the garden is used. Flooring is a really effective way to zone a garden space – see how the paving, grass and decking are used here. But if you can't change your flooring, look to screens, outdoor rugs or living walls, to create distinct 'rooms' within your garden.
2. Use different materials to zone your small garden
Small garden ideas can be quite subtle. Take this one, using zoning, a trick usually reserved for breaking up large indoor rooms into different areas – say, one for relaxing, and one for dining. The key to garden zoning is using different textures, colours or materials to differentiate between the areas. Flooring, for example, is perfect for doing this, and will create a larger-feeling, more interesting space.
This clever small garden design by Anna Carin Design combines decking and patio paving to achieve the zoned effect.
For advice on garden landscaping our feature will prove useful.
3. Choose portable furniture for a flexible space
We use our gardens for many things, from dining, to exercise, to sunbathing, to socialising. If you haven't got room to adhere to all of these needs at once, choose portable furniture that you can easily bring out, put away and roll around as and when you need. This wheeled coffee table is great for social gatherings, and when it's time for your alfresco Pilates session, simply roll it aside so you can stretch out to the max. This table was painted in Dazzling Yellow by Cuprinol.
4. Create the illusion of a larger garden with an outdoor mirror
You can't beat a good optical illusion for making your space look bigger. Just like inside our homes, large mirrors reflect light and space to instantly create the effect of a larger area. This large landscape mirror by Cue & Co stretches across the expanse of the wall for maximum impact. Ensure to position your mirror so that it reflects something beautiful, such as greenery, to visually enhance your space too.
After something more traditional? We love this garden mirror from Not on the High Street. It'll look good indoors, too.
5. Stack garden pots in multiple heights to add dimension
Container gardening is one of the best small garden ideas, especially if your garden has a patio or decking. The trick is to go for as many different types and heights of garden as possible: this will help add dimension and texture to the space. For instance, mix and match large terracotta pots with tall and slender glazed pots. And if you have a really small space, stack them up like this or wall-hang them to pack more in.
Learn more about container gardening for small spaces.
6. Remember you can grow veg almost anywhere
Growing veg isn't limited to greenhouses, allotments and extensive gardens – almost everyone can have a go. Whether you have space on your window sill to grow a few herbs, or a spot on your balcony for a tomato plant or two, there are always options for growing (a bit) of your own.
And you don't have to invest in expensive planters either. Here the Samla Box, £6.50, has been used. But, you could just as easily upcycle something you already have at home.
7. Copy Nigel Slater and grow veg near the kitchen door
Nigel grows fruit, veg and herbs near the kitchen door. Right now, there are tomatoes and courgettes, the herbs are healthy, and figs are ripe. The lesson here? You can grow your own near to the house without sacrificing any of the loveliness from your garden design.
He also grows tomatoes in pots right outside the kitchen. The diminutive size of your exterior space will be a virtue when all you need to do is take a step outside to grab some sun-warmed tomatoes for your plate. Find out more about when to grow tomatoes, and how, don't miss our guide.
If your garden’s soil isn’t suitable for growing herbs, you’ll definitely want to get on board with this strategy from Nigel. His go into pots instead, and they’re grouped together on a table near the kitchen. Raising them up like this means grabbing what you need for your cooking is even easier than when they’re growing in the ground.
Herb garden: planting ideas and advice on how to grow herbs
8. Line your entire tiny garden with raised beds
A little more all in, frame a small garden with raised beds and you will enhance the outdoor space you do have. We are getting all the Mediterranean vibes from @number_4_on_the_park's gorgeous small garden. If you have a backyard and not sure where to get your plants in, raised or built in beds are a great way to do it, especially if you blend them in with your walls or fences. Plant small trees for privacy and shade, and then fill out the rest with whatever plants suit your space and colour scheme. Keep the middle space clear of plants so it doesn't get too crowded and add some furniture to complete the look.
9. Ditch the shed – go for garden storage that doubles up as plant display instead
If your outdoor space is really very small, an outbuilding, no matter how slimline, is likely to overwhelm it. So, think about garden storage a bit more creatively: ideally, you want items that will be useful and attractive, and provide extra room for container plants.
If you do fancy a shed, choose a slimline one. We have the best small sheds in our buyer's guide.
The Latchmere range from Garden Trading has it all: the storage space, the good looks, and built-in planters.
10. Add an opulent canopy to a small terrace or balcony
What small balconies and terraces lack in floor space, they can make up for with a sense of airiness and height. Emphasise these positives with an attractive pendant light or a hanging canopy.
This beautiful draped balcony has been kitted out with a chair and table from John Lewis & Partners.
We have lots more ideas for balconies that you'll love.
11. A small garden idea for cool nights: an outdoor fireplace
Outdoor fireplaces are actually even better suited to smaller gardens than larger ones, for the simple reason you will really feel the cosiness in a smaller space. If your house won't permit the addition of a fireplace structurally, consider getting a chimenea or fire pit instead.
We have the best chimeneas to heat up your outdoor space.
12. Create a covered area with a large patio umbrella
The easiest way to create shade and protect your dining area from rain? A large garden umbrella. Simply remove when you want to enjoy the sun (if it's out, that is).
Consult our buyer's guide to the best garden parasols to choose yours.
13. Or add a pergola
This lovely city garden isn't acres and acres but @this_e17_life proves how you can still squeeze a lovely pergola and decking area into the corner of a small space. Pop down some decking, string up the fairy lights and add an outdoor sofa and there's your little but lovely setup sorted.
14. Enhance small garden landscaping with a central gravel path
Gravel is a great material for creating fluid, easy-going paths that are flattering in gardens big and small. To create an illusion of space as part of your small garden landscaping, build a central path surrounded by luscious borders.
This small garden design is by Rory Andrews Landscape Design.
15. Plant a garden tree to add height and interest
Think trees are only for large gardens? Not necessarily. Plenty of species will do fine in a small garden, or even in a garden container. The benefit of having a tree in your small garden is you are visually expanding your garden upwards, rather than keeping all the attention on the limited floor space.
This garden benefits from a stunning plum tree. Find out what the best small garden trees are in our guide.
16. Cheat a tiled floor with printed decking tiles
Balcony flooring seen better days? Or maybe you just want to go for a different look? Ikea sell decking that just clicks together and covers your patio or balcony floor, it's literally so easy. We like the patterned tile effect that the Mallsten tiles give (above) but there are loads of floor decking options at Ikea so check those out too to instantly update your balcony.
17. Layer your garden planting scheme to save space
Layering is actually very simple, and has been used in small garden design for centuries. Just think taller plants in the background, herbaceous perennials and grasses in the middle, and annual flowers at the foreground. Try layering colour, too – you may wish to have gradations of just one colour, or classic colour combinations such as red and purple.
Find more garden border ideas in our feature.
18. Create a small but luxurious outdoor relaxation area
Even the tiniest garden can become a luxurious, relaxing sanctuary. You will have to decide what's most important to you – a fully planted up outdoor space, or a swimming pool/garden water feature, however small? Once you've decided what you want your garden to be, there's no reason you can't achieve it, with the help of a skilful garden designer or landscape architect.
19. Create a height-adding garden lighting scheme
Clever lighting is the perfect small garden idea for visually enhancing your space. To make your garden look bigger, you may choose upward-facing spotlighting or accenting a tree with fairy lights.
This garden benefits from Festoon Outdoor Line Lights from John Lewis & Partners visually enhancing its height.
20. Plant a green wall in a small garden
Another trick that emphasises the height rather than width of small gardens is planting a green wall. Choose fast-growing climber species such as jasmine, honeysuckle, and ivy.
Find out more about creating a vertical garden or living wall in our guide.
21. Cheat a green wall with artificial plants
If you aren't green fingered or just want some guaranteed all year round greenery this is a fab Ikea gardening hack – build a green wall just with fake flowers. This one has been made using Ikea's very handy faux plant wall panels.
22. Maximise seating space with a garden corner sofa
There's no hard and fast rule on where to position your garden furniture in small gardens, but generally speaking, it makes sense not to place any heavy, non-portable pieces centrally, because everyone will inevitably keep bumping into them. Instead, opt for a corner sofa and a compact coffee table.
23. Blur the boundaries between indoors and outdoors
This indoor-outdoor space by Granit Architects uses continuous flooring to relax the boundaries between home and garden which is a really nifty small garden idea. You can maximise this with accessible glazing, and replicating the same decorating scheme inside and out.
24. Enhance a small courtyard with elevated areas
Even the smallest courtyard can be made to look chic and inviting with clever use of materials, levels, and lighting. This Chelsea courtyard has been given a sleek makeover with multiple layers of light limestone paving. By Charlotte Rowe Design.
25. Paint and plant garden walls and fences
Just as you'd paint walls in a light colour in a small room to make it feel bigger, doing so in a small garden will make it feel larger. Another small garden idea? Think 'up' and 'out' by mounting your container plants onto a garden wall or fence. The effect will be especially stunning if you choose trailing plants (trailing pelargoniums are especially appealing).
Learn more about choosing plants for your garden.
26. Use limewash to create an airy and spacious look
Talking of small garden ideas that make your outdoor space feel bigger and brighter, get that charming cottage garden look – and make your small garden appear larger and lighter in the process – by liming your exterior and your garden furniture. This traditional preservation technique is coming back into favour in modern homes too for a chilled Scandi look if cottagey is not your vibe.
Find out how to lime wood in our practical guide to go the whole hog with your garden furniture, too.
27. Keep your lawn pristine, even if it's tiny
Small garden design ideas that include a tiny lawn? Here's a great one. But don't neglect it; a neat and sculpted lawn, however small, will give your garden a smart and spacious look; like a large formal garden, but in miniature. To keep your lawn in top shape, mow it regularly. We have the best small lawnmowers in our buyer's guide. And for practical tips and techniques, consult our guide on how to mow a lawn.
Or, you can choose a fake lawn like the one below. Find more alternatives to laying a lawn in our guide.
28. Paint small garden fences to add extra colour
Want to transform your small garden in just a weekend? Bold move here, but we reckon painting your fences in bright, sunny colours for the summer can really improve your space. What's going to look nicer? A slightly faded, peeling wooden fence or a super stylish vivid colour? You can always soften the look by adding a trellis and growing climbing plants over the top. And see this furniture, below? That was plain wooden and a little worn looking – but was given a new lease of life with a lick of paint. Want to get the paint work done fast? Check out the best paint sprayers for speedy fence and furniture makeovers.
Head over to our feature on how to use paint in the garden for more easy updates.
29. Make a small balcony feel like a Greek holiday villa
If you are on a budget or are trying to accommodate for a smaller, narrower space, don't worry, we have a few pointers. Painting doors and shutters is an easy and cheap way to brighten and add a modern twist to an outdoor space. Choose a bold colour you love that will draw the eye upwards, making the space feel longer. Using vertical shelves and shelving units in order to create loads of space to put plants and outdoors accessories (without taking up much floor room) is a great idea, too. And we LOVE the curtain, strung up to create privacy, shade and an extra splash of colour. See more of this IKEA set up on their website.
30. Add a cheeky hammock for even more chilled vibes
The rug and the hammock help make the small space feel more like an outdoor room than a garden, which is a great option if you have a small back yard and are not sure how to make the most of it. You don't need to try to transform it into a green space, just see it almost like an extra room, with a few potted plants dotted about, too. Oh, and use paint to add some splashes of colour. We can't resist a bit of pink, so naturally, we are in love with @emeraldterrace's back yard.
For the best exterior wood paint head to our buying guide.
31. Make room for an outdoor cinema
They're all the rage and we love 'em: outdoor cinemas. And yes, you can create your own without spending a fortune. Simply shine an outdoor projector on a white wall or hang a white sheet and use that as your screen instead. We have the best outdoor projectors to suit every budget in our guide.
Then, you'll need good chairs – and we love these classics from Ikea. The Vago chair is for sure one of those indoor/outdoor pieces: great on a balcony, great in the corner of the kitchen. The design is just a classic.
32. Go for modular garden furniture to suit your space
Modular furniture has always been a small space dweller's friend. What we like so much about the Solleron series is you can really create a shape of sofa that fits with your space. You can build up how many seats you want, add armrests, corner sections, pick colours and cushions to go on top – just a really versatile piece of garden furniture.
33. Alan Titchmarsh's says less is more in a small garden
'In a small space, a few large features are better than many small ones. Two or three big pots will have much more impact and look far more stylish than a dozen ill-assorted smaller ones. One tree, if you can fit it in, is better than three shrubs of a middling size,' says gardening expert and TV personality Alan Titchmarsh.
34. Alan Titchmarsh also says to co-ordinate paving and hard landscaping
Alan says: 'Choose paving and other hard landscaping that match or complement each other. This way, whatever else is going on in the garden, these will act as an anchor and provide a unifying theme.'
35. Alan Titchmarsh also says to create a focal point in a small garden
'Focal points are spots that draw your eye when you gaze into the garden. All gardens, no matter how small, ought to contain at least one good focal point, and preferably several of varying intensity – but cram in too many and they will all lose their impact,' says Alan.
Tips taken from Alan Titchmarsh's Small Gardens
36. Create a tiny outdoor kitchen
So when you have slaved away creating a lovely outdoor space, make sure you take time to enjoy it. And to us, enjoying an outdoor space means plenty of alfreso eating and drinking. We love this Ikea hack – creating a mini outdoor kitchen with just a kitchen trolley and a table top BBQ. This trolley is just £80 (£71 if you are an Ikea Family member). Store condiments and crockery underneath, and pop one of our picks of the best portable BBQs on top.
37. Add a summerhouse to a small garden
Summerhouses are not necessarily just for massive gardens – some are quite compact, as small as just five feet across. This small garden ideas with a summer house is by Lights4fun; see B&Q for small summer houses to buy. For more inspiration, go to our feature on outbuildings and garden rooms to see more on adding one of these to your space.
38. Go monochrome to enhance a small garden
And by monochrome we don't mean black or white; washing your entire small garden in a deep, vibrant colour will create a jewel-box effect that's very attractive, and it'll distract from the small size of your garden. This small garden idea is by Chaplins Furniture.
39. Don't be afraid to decorate a small garden table
Just because you have a tiny bistro set in your patio, doesn't mean you have to keep it clear at all times. In fact, we think that draping your small garden table with pretty table linens and decorating with fresh flowers will visually enhance your outdoor space by creating a focal point.
Find the best bistro sets in our buyer's guide.
40. Enjoy a hot tub even on the smallest patio
If your patio is way too small to fit in a commercially bought hot tub, consider having a bespoke one built, or even build it yourself (yes, it is possible). While it won't fit all of your friends, it's a clever use of a small garden corner.
Think you might be able to fit in a larger hot tub after all? Check out the best hot tub deals.
41. Really small garden? Go big on accessories
It's a misconception that small garden do best with smaller everything: actually, a couple of well chosen large ornaments, planters, or lanterns tend to look much better than lots of small ones. The Galvanised Metal Lantern is by Lights4fun.
42. Start a herb kitchen in a small garden
If you have a small walled garden, use the walls! You basically automatically have extra space, it's just vertical. Choose the wall that gets the most sun and hang planters with herbs along the whole height of it, using hooks or a wall rack.
See more about making the most of your home – whatever its size – on the Real Homes TV channel