34 Small Garden Design Ideas

Even for confessed urbanites, green makes a difference. Just look at how many modern homes have potted plants … and sometimes these plants are plastic!

So it’s clear gardening (or at least gardens) are good for us. But what happens when your garden is so tiny you can barely plant a thing? Well, you get creative! So let’s dig into a few small garden design ideas.

Small Garden Design Ideas

1. Plank Partitions

Plank Partitions

Your small garden probably means you live alone – or have a small family. So if you’re determined to grow your own food, a single head of cabbage will feed you for a week. Pick a corner for your kitchen garden and use wooden planks to divide it into grids. Each grid will host a separate seedling. Mount bird feeders nearby to help with manure and pollination.

2. Pyramid of Pumpkins

Pyramid of Pumpkins

Whether you’re a fan of pumpkin spice latte or you’re just looking to cash in on Halloween, those patented orange fruits (yes, it’s a fruit) needs room to breathe. So if you don’t have enough floor space to let them reach out and tendril, erect a triangular dome between two planting troughs and lay the creepers along the structure. Steel mesh trellises will help.

3. Take a Seat

Take a Seat
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No matter how small your garden is, it can fit a chair. So look for some abandoned dining table chairs or grab a couple from the local junkyard. Broken ones are better since you’re going to hack them further. Cut a hole in the seat and squeeze a planter into it. You can then put flower arrangements or plants actual greenery. Paint the chair in bright playful colours.

4. Perfect Pottage

Perfect Pottage

Here’s another one for junkyard gurus. Grab some interesting antiques to plug into your small garden design ideas. We recommend retro farmyard troughs, clawfoot tubs, vintage sinks, and shipping crates. Arrange these potential planters systematically and have a different type of plant in each one. Fence in the veggie box with metal mesh panels.

5. Lovely Lines

Lovely Lines

Narrow garden spaces can be difficult to design. Visually enlarge the garden by building a ‘clearing’ in the middle. In this case, live hedges have been used to segment the yard and guide your eye, make everything seem bigger. A walkway divides the garden into twin halves with matching ponds, veggie patches, and bollard lights. A tree sits front and centre.

6. Tiny House Garden

Tiny House Garden

From this angle, the garden looks huge. But that’s because it’s cleverly designed for multiple family members. The dandelions in the foreground look like trees due to the perspective of the shot. Sit on your L-shaped floating bench with padded seats. The white gravel under the benches contrasts the paving stones, wooden deck, and grass to make everything look bigger.

7. Colour and Texture

Colour and Texture

Continuous lines can broaden and lengthen your space. But careful segmentation can produce the same effect. For this small garden idea, the brown wood panel fence contrasts the grey concrete floor and green grass. The French windows pull your eye indoors so the garden seems even bigger. And the fence downlights exaggerate the fullness of that topiary.

8. Just Hanging

Just Hanging

For centuries, we’ve used hanging gardens to save space. And almost every patio or balcony has some kind of potted plants (or bird feeder) hanging from its ceiling. But you can step it up a notch by ‘planting’ a sturdy pole into the ground and mounting multiple hooks and braces on it. Each brace can support a lightweight flower basket reinforced with steel frames.

9. Circus Lights

Circus Lights

To ensure you can still go out at night, your small garden design ideas should include lighting tips. And even if you have the minutest balcony, you can jazz it up with hula hoops. Wrap the hoops in string lights and arrange them strategically around that tiny yard.

10. White Wash Wonder

White Wash Wonder

If your yard is so small it has no grass, can you still call it a garden? With some clever design tips, yes. Whitewashing is a good trick because it enlarges that cosy corner of the yard. Use woven baskets and voluminous, round flower arrangements that suit the space. Padded benches, troughs full of herbs, and strung-up fairy lights are useful as well.

11. Tall and Distressed

Tall and Distressed

Here’s a small garden idea to expand your narrow garden space. Enclose your space with a white horizontal wooden screen. Choose tall ‘lollipop’ trees with a narrow trunk topped by a ball of topiary. Push all your plants towards the perimeter and use asymmetric paving and mixed-texture flooring to widen the yard. Finish off with DIY furniture from reclaimed wood.

12. Full Frontal

Full Frontal

This front yard is remarkable small and might feel rather crowded by all that garden furniture. But by placing planting troughs directly under the window, the eating area feels sunken. And the illusion of elevation makes this ‘split-level’ garden feel bigger. Strings light float across the open sky for an even more spacious effect. The wood windows help too.

13. Baby Bonsai

Baby Bonsai

In Japan, nurturing miniature trees is a treasured art form. But in your small garden, it could be more of a necessity. Luckily, dwarf fruit trees don’t need much room for roots. They grow about a foot tall, thrive in terracotta pots, and fruits just as tasty as their full-sized siblings. So as you design your fun-sized orchard, find a selection of baby fruit and baby veggies.

14. Indoor Garden Projects

Indoor Garden Projects
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If you’re trying to get small hands interested in gardening, give them this project. It creates an entire garden in one simple flower pot. It lets your children get their fingers dirty and experience the tactile pleasure and texture of soil, leaves, and flowers. They can work indoors on a rainy day, and it’s sure to get them invested on outdoor gardening, however small.

15. Along the Edges

Along the Edges

There are two key ways to play with small garden design ideas. You can arrange your gardening elements on the sides, making the centre space seem bigger. Or you can cluster them for fuller uncrowded feeling. This case applies the latter. An L-shaped wooden couch fills one corner. Large planters hug the walls leaving the middle lawn looking larger.

16. Storage Solutions

Storage Solutions
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Small garden design ideas need to be clutter-free. With your yard space being premium, you want to maximise every inch. So this portable storage shelf with its lattice headboard is ideal. You can tuck it in a corner of your tiny garden and use it for your tools and seeds.

17. All Grass No Fuss

All Grass No Fuss
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Faced with a small decorating space, we often try to do too much. But the best small garden design ideas are simple. In this case, the homeowners worked with what they had. They divided the space into two. The grass section is framed by concrete paving that has grass edging between each block. The seating area is a sandpit with a waist-high concrete wall.

18. From the Windows to the Wall

From the Windows to the Wall
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How small is small? Try one wall! If your tiny apartment has a false balcony that barely extends 5 inches, you’re in trouble. But don’t fret – you can still design a classy one-wall garden. Use this planter to nurture a vertical garden. It can be indoors, on the balcony, or beside your outer window ledge. The planter is made of zinc so it’s easy to clean.

19. Central Seating

Central Seating
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The theme in many gardens is seating on the sides and plants (or fountains) in the centre. These homeowners took the opposite approach. They placed large plants at the edges of the home and paved the middle with concrete. This centre section is framed with green ‘goal posts’ that you can easily throw a tarp over in case of bad weather. The space feels large and open.

20. Bucket Planters

Bucket Planters
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It’s not always rattan and terracotta. Plastic can be a useful accessory for small garden design ideas. Grab some colourful pails and basins from the local supermarket and fill them with soil and potting. The average bucket is good enough for tomatoes, beans, dwarf fruit trees, or windowsill herb gardens. Cabbage and lettuce need a shallower wok to work with.

21. Shared Cropping

Shared Cropping

No, we don’t want you to lease a bigger farm. But you can use your limited space to combine fruit and veggies. Plant the flowers at the edges where they’ll get the most air and sun. The veggies can sit in the centre of the planter frame. Pyramid poles will guide tendrils and keep your garden growing vertically rather than spilling over the sides of the wooden crate.

22. Rows and Reasons

Rows and Reasons

An alternative to pyramid planters is to mix your fruits and veggies in rows. They can still cross-pollinate and pleasantly mingle their flavours. But the linear alignment makes it easier to tell fruit and veggie species apart, which is useful for weeding, pruning, or harvesting.

23. Pure Classification

Pure Classification

Visually, this garden is a mess. But it’s an organised mess, and an eco-friendly one. Every item in this garden is up-cycled. Old storage bins and toy boxes serve as planters. A ladder supports several basket planters on its rungs. Chicken mesh protects herbs from prying finders. A gridded gated offers hook-holds for seedlings in vertical nursery bags.

24. Balcony Gardening

Balcony Gardening

Some urban residents use their balconies for clothes and barbeque. But if you have green thumbs, those few square feet can do a lot. In this case, plastic planters lean against the wall at three levels. A reed mat covers the outside of the planters, providing neat, attractive ‘edging’. The balcony lets your plants get lots of sun, wind, and water so they’re happy.

25. Foot and Pole

Foot and Pole

This garden lover has barely a square metre to work with, so they’re aiming high. The garden area is framed with salvaged wood and the soil is maybe a foot deep. Three bamboo poles lean against the wall, each laden with tens of coconut husks. These husks are ideal planters for herbs and tiny veggies. And when they rot, they drop the ground as manure. Win-win!

26. Kokodama Delight

Kokodama Delight

Kokodama is a premium version of the foot-and-pole gardening method. The single sturdy pole has smaller poles arranged its length. The poles are nailed crosswise, allowing coconut husks to drape in every direction. The entire system rests on a sturdy wooden base so you can carry it when you move house. Or shift it to get more sun, less wind, or dodge snow.

27. Neo Garden Walls

Neo Garden Walls

Kokodama for urban dwellers? Maybe. If you can’t get coconut husks and gourds, you can still do some eco-friendly vertical gardening. Use upside-down plastic bottles as planters. They’re light enough to hook onto a pole or trellis by the hundreds. You can hang them vertically or horizontally depending on what you’re planting and how small your garden is.

28. Tops and Towers

Tops and Towers

This next small garden design merges several of the elements we’ve looked it. It starts with wooden slats hammered into a spacious pyramid. The tops of plastic bottles are then sawn off and hooked or nailed onto the grid. Now you have your very own food pyramid! Pun intended. And this small garden doesn’t even need dug-up ground – the soil is in the cups!

29. Tiers and Tyres

Tiers and Tyres

In some parts of the world, old tyres are re-treaded or converted into furniture, shoes, or kids’ toys. So if you have a pickup and some DIY skills, grab some old rubber and poles from the scrap yard. Use the sticks to make feet and seal the bottom of the tyres with wicker or chicken mesh. These ‘tyre stools’ are perfect portable planters for a balcony or small garden.

30. At the Fringes

At the Fringes
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This green space is so small it can barely be called a garden! But the design ideas have it looking large and feeling fresh. Planter troughs line the edges of the garden. They’re filled with tall wispy plants that don’t crowd the space. Bamboo and ferns. They let lots of air and light through, which is crucial because the bulk of the balcony is filled with yard furniture.

31. Up Against the Wall

Up Against the Wall

It’s called espalier and it’s a key weapon in your arsenal of small garden design ideas. Espalier means ‘training a tree to grow against the wall instead of branching out.’ You’re essentially flattening the plant so it fits into a smaller garden space. This also dodges the drama of cleaning up leaves (and pests) that floated over the neighbour’s fence.

32. Raising Gardens

Raising Gardens
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Height seems to be the best ticket to small garden design ideas. And in this case, your garden is literally a trolley. The lower shelves hold your tools and seeds while the upper grid has soil and fertiliser for your plants to root. This lets you design a small garden anywhere from your bedroom to your garage – though you need a spot with lots of light and limited floor linen.

33. Shutters and Pallets

Shutters and Pallets
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Planter hooks can be hug on any nail or railing. They’re mesh baskets you can slip a planter into. And a good spot for these hooked-up plants is a vertical shipping pallet or an old louvred shutter. You can slip your hook (or small succulents) between the slats. Just lean the pallet or shutter against a free wall that receives sufficient sunlight and ventilation.

34. Pallets and Plants

Pallets and Plants
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We’ve just mentioned this, so here’s a visual representation of a vertical pallet planter. In this case, the planter hooks are constructed from scratch. Ductile metal panels are curled around plastic planters and nailed to the wood. They have to be plastic, wicker, or rattan since clay pots might be too heavy. If you prefer clay, nail supportive brackets beneath each pot.

How small is your garden and what are thinking of planting? Tell us in the comments – we’d love to recommend suitable small garden design ideas that suit your space and locale.

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