Small Garden Design Tips

Small gardens are my favourite to design. Lots of people contact me worrying that they can’t do much with a small garden. Actually though, the opposite is true – you can do loads with a small space garden.

If you’re feeling a little sceptical on that, let me explain. Large gardens tend to visually need large areas of open empty space so that they don’t look too cluttered. Intricate design details tend to get lost in large open areas.

In a small garden though, you can often put in a lot more design details because everything is so small and close at hand.

Now as much as I hate the over-used term ‘outside room’ for small gardens it is appropriate.

So if you are about to undertake transforming a small space garden, rather than being daunted by it, just view it as decorating another room. That subtle shift in mindset will help you tackle it more easily because you’ll automatically think about how you use the space and ‘decorate’ it.

The most important part of any design, regardless of the size or shape of the space is to first focus your efforts on how to use the space. You need to create shapes that link the entire garden together in a way that makes it look and feel larger and more interesting. In a small garden, this is even more critical to do.

Learn More About Creating a Beautiful Small Space Garden

If you’d like to learn more tips and tricks to help you turn your small garden into a stunning space, take a look at the Small Garden Formula course.

If you would like the Successful Garden Design cheat sheet and video on how to add the WOW factor to your garden  please add your email address below (don’t worry we don’t spam and will NOT pass on your address to anyone else!).

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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. mrs ireene cconey says:

    hi there. i have an L shaped space approx 12- 14- 8 foot. i know what fencing i would like and its round top 4 foot high timber fencing. but i don’t know what to do next i was given a little water fountain 6 years ago to use and id like a little decking just enough for two chairs and a little table. i suffer from depression so i want somewhere i can call my own space to think and just be by myself. id like it to be bright, colourful, peaceful, and to reflect my character etc. i dont know anything about summer / winter flowers, shrubs, grass etc. any bit of help or advice would be great. my husband or i are not working now, so buying books in not possiable but if u recomended a book i may get it from the libary , thank you and god bless iev

  2. Rachel Mathews says:

    Hi Irene,

    The book I’d like to recommend you is no longer in print but this book by John Brooks is well worth getting out the library

    If you are an Amazon Prime member you can borrow my book for free from their Kindle library this covers everything you need to know to incorporate a deck and design your entire garden.

    You need to create a main design shape that links the garden together, you can read more about that here:–-without-having-to-spend-a-fortune/

  3. Thanks for your reply to me email a few weeks ago. Hope to win the book in the draw if it’s not already over!

    • Rachel Mathews says:

      Hi Yvette, you’re very welcome. I’ll be doing the book draw sometime in August, so plenty of time to enter!

  4. Hi Rachel
    I live on a small back section that is overlooked on all sides by neighbours. I am struggling to create a ‘private’ area with lawn for the kids and an entertainment (patio) area for the adults. So far I have been unable to get the ‘shape’ right to achieve this, I am also stuggling with what type of trees to plant as I dont want them to dwarf the lawn area or cut out light to the house.

    I have watched most of your videos and really love the garden transformations you have done and .I would really love to win your ebook so that I can get tips on how to create something awesome.

    Thank you

    • Rachel Mathews says:

      Hi Ronda,

      Many thanks for your comment, the ebook is 3/4 done so I’ll be drawing a winner in the next few weeks.

      For your garden design, concentrate first on which shapes to use, don’t worry about how you are going to achieve the seclusion – too much detail in one go will bog your brain down and make it harder to design. So keep it really simple and then when you have shapes you like, work out how to create screening – it doesn’t have to be trees, trellising and screens can be just as effective, if not more so.

      Good luck with your design and the competition.


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