Small Garden Case Study – Christine’s Design

This garden case study shows what has been achieved in an incredibly short amount of time (just over 3 months)…

Though, there is something about this one that is even more incredible than that, see if you can spot it and I’ll tell you at the end so you can see if you’re right!


Here’s what Christine had to say about her design process for her small space garden:

I moved to the present house 18 months ago and decided to leave garden for one year to see what came up.  

We have heavy compacted clay with some standing water.  Existing beds only about 12 to 18 inches wide and very hard to put fork in.

My previous garden had been light sandy loam so quite a change and had to re-think what plants would now grow!  Brought some plants with me but stayed in pots for over a year.

Employed a contractor to create path and put in drainage for new lawn, which they also laid.  My husband and I double dug the beds and incorporated Topsoil, compost, horticultural grit and composted manure, which we mixed with the clay.  

We had to remove a lot of builders rubble, even though the house is 16 years old.  After planting, we put down a bark mulch, which seems to have deterred slugs and kept moisture in.


My experience is that I originally trained at Writtle Agricultural College back in 1985 in horticulture as a mature student (now 68)!  Not actively used this but some things are retained.  

I am less skilled in design, although easier when it is not my garden, but love plants, so the Course [Small Garden Formula] really worked for me at many levels.  

I found measuring the site, design criteria and looking at what worked for my square garden really helpful.  It was a real focus to proceed, as I still felt daunted in beginning to design the garden.  

Your video presentations were professional but friendly and not too full of jargon.  Helped me to focus on shape before planting.  Found gallery of designs helpful.

ChrisGdnAfter1I am going to complete the garden in the Autumn with a summerhouse.  Have a “woodland “area under the trees and well as seating in sun and shade.  Hot border and a small barrel pond.

Christine Linley, UK

Have you been inspired by Christine’s garden?

I certainly have been, on many levels. The fact it’s looking so good so early on, is incredible, but not nearly as incredible as a small detail that Chris dropped in to the article…

Did you spot where she said her age? 68, if you missed it! I hope I’m still learning new skills and trying things out when I’m her age!

And I also hope that Christine will keep us posted and show us how the finished garden looks when the wheelbarrow is replaced by a summerhouse!

If you’ve been inspired to tackle your small garden, check out the Small Garden Formula course at

Do leave your comments or questions in the comment boxes below…



About Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 20 years. My mission is to de-mystify garden design and make it easy for people to successfully design their own garden - without needing to spend a fortune!


  1. The garden is absolutely beautiful, Christine! Well done!!

  2. You have turned the "nothing" space into an intimate garden getaway! Great job! I'd love to see more when you finish your other projects.

  3. Hi Catherine,
    Isn't Christine's garden design beautiful? We are glad you liked it. We will keep you and all our readers updated on Christine's progress.
    Successful Garden Design Customer Service Manager

  4. Hi Lynda,
    Thank you for your kind words. We are glad you liked Christine's design. We will keep you updated on her progress.
    Successful Garden Design Customer Service Manager

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