Small Garden Ideas Pt 1- How to make a small space garden look larger – Interview

This month, we are going to focus on small space gardens. The design tricks and principles I’m going to reveal to you, that work so well in small space gardens, can also be used to good effect in larger gardens, and awkward corners as well.

OR watch Small Garden Ideas Part 1 directly on YouTube

Just to up the anti a bit, I have a little challenge for you!

I want you to pay particular attention to the planting that has been used in the garden in the video. There’s something very important about it, that we didn’t discuss in the video. What it is that I want you to notice about the planting in this garden (it is a bit of a trick question)? Just leave your answer in the comment box below or on the Successful Garden Design Facebook Page.

In this video, you’ll learn:

• How to double the visual size of any small garden with the careful use of garden mirrors.

• How to create private areas, even in a really tiny garden.

• The KEY to successfully using mirrors well in a garden.

• The importance of colour, and how to combine the right colours in a smaller garden.

• How to use bold garden features in small spaces.

If you’d like to visit the beautiful guest house that’s featured in the video, please visit:

SMALLGDNformulaTo help you further with tackling a small space garden, check out the Small Garden Formula online design course. I will show you exactly how to transform any small space garden, step-by-step, so you too can have a garden you can relax and enjoy, no matter what its size!



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. John Jones says:

    The plants are all in pots and therefore can easily be rearranged for a completely different feel or easily changed for plants that are in season at different times of the year.

  2. there is a variety of plant and leaf shapes and textures to soften the view and many are tucked in unused spaces as corners.

  3. Roger Franklin says:

    The coloring in the plants lets the color of the building be bold.

  4. The planting focus is on foliage not blooms – I don’t see any flowers. You can add lots of texture and color with just foliage.

  5. They’re evergreen?

  6. There is a mirror in the first video shot so the plants in the foreground appear to also be in the background. That is a very cool idea BTW. Awesome video Rachel. I am not sure that is the answer you were looking for, but I hope it is!

    Susan =)

  7. all the planting is in tubs, pots or containers

  8. One thing I noticed is there is no repetition of any type of plant, they are all different varieties.

  9. Glenda c says:

    The vertical plant s that draw you eyes up increases the space visually

  10. it’s mirrors…. just like the one behind you at the start of the video

  11. Marina B. says:

    All the plants are low maintenance.

  12. My second guess is that none of them are blooming. They are all foliage plants.


  13. julia.t says:

    They are all native plants, indigenous to the area; so easier to maintain.

  14. I think that most of the plants have round shape (like sphere) which follows the archs shape and also the round mosaic. /apart from the “climbing” foliage/

  15. What I can see is that the planting is used to devide the long and narrow garden in spaces.

  16. the plants are used to separate áreas instead of walls or hedges…. perhaps…

  17. Another idea is that particular plants are chosen to underline the Morroccan style of the garden.

  18. small spaces don’t require small plants, but in stead larger plants and larger pots can make the space look larger

  19. and also limit the colors (including the colors of the plants) to just a few to keep the small space “uncluttered”

  20. Wow! I’m very impressed with all the answers, but alas still no!

    Some pointers to help you in the right direction – the answer I’m looking for wasn’t discussed in the video. It is a bit of trick question, so you need to think outside the box a bit…

    Good luck 😉

  21. alison Boocock says:

    The only thing I can think of is that the planting is all various shades of green – and none of them are fruit bearing?

  22. Adrienne says:

    the plants all happy to be in pots and are good in dry conditions,ever green they will always add structure to the design. p.s lovely garden

  23. the hardest thing – to find out what a woman is thinking about…lifetime occupation.

  24. Dear Rachel,

    What a lovely moroccan style garden!
    I will try with my answer for your question…I think the important thing about the planting used here is that the pots are made of clay, a really good material to keep the plants with the right transpiration and damp degree in such a hot place like Granada, and also save watering.
    I hope this is the answer you are looking for… 🙂
    Thank you for motivating us with this video!

    Best regards,
    Sofia (from Barcelona)

    • Hi Sofia!

      That’s a clever answer but not the one I’m after! 😉

      ps. I’ll apologise in advance for my awful Spanish pronunciations in the next video (the one that contains the answer to this question!).

      • Dear Rachel,

        I’ll try again…maybe the red color of the walls reflects the light to these sunny plants, helping them to grow right.
        What a challenge! I won’t rest until I guess the answer or until next Wednesday!

        Best regards,
        Sofia (from Barcelona)

        p.s.: Don’t worry about your Spanish, it is better than my English for sure 😉 and if I can help you, please ask me!

  25. There are no trees !

  26. The plantings separate the space into different rooms.

  27. julia t says:

    Another attempt!!! Perhaps it is important that the plants present a contrasting variety of leaf shape, size etc, although, as we heard, the flowers are all within a limited colour range. This is fun! Thank you for such an interesting ‘challenge’.

  28. They’re all in shade? They’re all sheltered with it being a courtyard?

  29. Sun loving plants all growing in shade is all I’ve got. After so many days of trying to figure this out and watching the video about 40 times I am now seeing all kinds of things and going all goggle eyed and unable to focus – my life has been taken over by your trick question Rachel lol. When you gonna put us out of our misery? lol

    • Oh Linda, I do love you! I reckon you’ve single-handedly got the video ranking on YouTube with the number of times you’ve viewed it! 😉

      Well, if no one guesses the answer, it will be in the next video which goes out on Wednesday. And if no one guesses, that means there will still be a copy of the Small Garden Formula up for grabs – which means I’m going to have to come up with another question for you…

      ps I can see why you call yourself the tenacious gardener – you certainly don’t give up easily!

      • So it’s not that they’re growing in shade then? Darn it, I’ll have another wee look, this page is now bookmarked so I don’t even have to Youtube no more 🙂

  30. Anna-Marie waters them via the pool?

  31. The pool creates the humidity needed?

  32. Dear Rachel,

    If the red colored walls option wasn’t the answer, I have another possible one: the plants had been chosen not being focused on their flowers or foliage, but the overall characteristics of them (like shape) and how will each one look with their surrounding. I mean the plants seem to be put there randomly, but they achieve an specific aim.
    I’m still thinking on the right answer!

    Best regards,

    Sofia (from Barcelona)

    • A great answer Sofia for how to combine plants and for thinking about the wall, but not the one I’m looking for this time…

      ps I would be overjoyed if my Spanish was half as good as your English! 😀

  33. Hi Rachel,

    are the plants artificial?

  34. 😀 I’ll give it another shot after my dismal failure 😉 Is it to do with the shapes that draw your eye? There are two plants next to the wine ‘jar’. These lead the eye up to the blue alcove. My eye then shifts to the mirror and back to the lowermost plant, creating a triangle. So, is it how the plants lead your eye into the garden, creating an illusion of a greater space than there is?

  35. Aha! The planting partially blocks your view, encouraging you to move further into/around the garden, giving the illusion of greater space. Without the screen, the garden would look smaller.

    • Both very good answers Gary. Excellent, in fact, that you noticed the order the eyes are pulled to each part of the garden…. but guess what! Still not the one I was looking for…

  36. Terence O'Reilly says:

    Hi Rachel, Your garden design workshops and videos are excellent and most informative, Please keep up the good (no, very good) work. I think the answer to your challenge is that all plants appear to be planted in pots.
    Hope this is the answer you’re looking for.
    Best Regards

  37. Christine Gorman says:

    I think it is that the planting is secondary to the design, the planting is to enhance not to detract.

    • Absolutely right Christine – well done, you got it! You’re the second person to give the right answer, Louise on Facebook, pipped you to the post on winning the prize, but congrats for doing so well. Out of over a 100 answers both here and on FB, only 2 people got it right!

      The exact answer I was looking for was there aren’t many plants, and the garden looks good because of the design, the plants are secondary. I’ll go into more detail in the next video…

      • Christine Gorman says:

        Hi Rachel,
        I am obviously pleased to have got the answer but gutted to be beaten to the prize. Congratulations Louise, enjoy the small garden formula course. I have recently done the weekend workshop, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but I am having trouble converting the methods to my space which is very wide with the view and access from the property from one corner. Do you have any advice please where I should start?

        • Hi Christine,

          I’ll be doing a blog post in about 2-3 week’s time on how to tackle a wide garden. It’s basically the same principles as the long garden, except you are dividing the width more than the length. So you create rooms from left to right rather than top to bottom.

          Hope that helps until the blog post is done.

  38. Jakki Carey says:

    Is it a ‘dry’ garden? – were all the plants chosen for their low water requirements?

  39. Terence O'Reilly says:

    Hi Rachel, You advocate SHAPE as the most important factor in garden design. Can this apply in such a garden? Can Journey and Mystery also really apply? I await your answer to the challenge with great interest.

  40. Barbara Bach says:

    Your logo at the bottom left???
    It is a wonderful design. If I wasn’t such a plant-aholic, I would love to have this kind of garden.

  41. Susan Landon says:

    The broader leafed plants in the foreground which have scale, movement and reflect light, make the finer leafed plants- that tend to grey out- recede. By placing the small palm’s larger leaves in front of the mirror’s edge, the reflection of the potted bush in reflection appears even farther away. The small yellow leaves of the climber create a suntouched from another direction illusion in the mirror giving the impression that the garden is also wider as well as deeper than it is.

  42. Rosemarie Soar says:

    She used the mirror to make it appear larger,plus didnt use to many coloured plants.

  43. Hello Rachel,

    first thing that come to attention about plants is that they are all in pots secon things is that their colour complement with the colour of th wall red vs green third thing on they go from low to high with the big pot.

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