Small is beautiful too!

It’s instilled in us that bigger is always better but is it really? The belief that something on a larger scale is better is questionable. The truth is that there is no singular nor straight forward answer to this. There is no end to the differing ways in which homeowners can use and enjoy their garden, and therefore there are so many ways in which ‘beautiful’ could be interpreted.

However – if we are to keep things simple, then there is no doubt that small can be beautiful when talking gardens.

Ten of the most important points to consider when designing any outdoor space, especially small spaces are:

1. Proportion

When considering the design for a small outdoor space some careful consideration needs to be given to not only the shapes, but also the size of the areas you are going to create within the area i.e. creating a large terrace or patio is all well and good, but if you end up with a tiny grass lawn area crammed in a corner or at the far end of the space then this could upset the balance of the garden.

2. Shape

Whether it’s a ‘square’, linear or a curvy ‘fluid’ design you are proposing it’s important to keep an eye on the space as a whole, and whilst focusing on one element, make sure you are considering the other elements at the same time. This way it ensures that you do not miss anything throughout the process.

3. Continuation

With small spaces in particular, it’s important to let materials blend as seamlessly as possible for instance, if you are designing a curved, fluid shaped patio, continue the shape through into the grass area, so you don’t have two separate shapes, but one continuous shape which is made up of 2 different materials or textures.

4. Materials

As ever, the materials you choose for your garden are incredibly important in ‘making or breaking’ the look and feel of your space. Ultimately it comes down to the particular style of garden you have chosen – modern and minimal, or a more rustic and traditional theme.

5. Paving the way

The choices of paving types is endless, and it can become quite confusing if you are unsure on the particular style you want to adopt, so it is important to choose this first. You can then hone down the other variations such as texture type, colour until you are left with a ‘wish list’, this will then make it much easier when flicking through suppliers brochures to make that choice.

6. Test run with purpose

One crucial piece of advice when choosing your paving type – always try to see if you can see an area of the material laid before you finalise your choice. It’s all well and good at looking at samples and images in a glossy brochure, but to see the actual product in situ is the best way to make a choice, and even better if you can see it when wet as well as dry – you could be looking at this for a long time, come rain or shine, so don’t make a mistake and regret it later.

7. Colouration

Colouration is important for paving, you need to consider if the space is naturally dark or light, do you need to add more light by using a light colour to reflect light, how will the paving sit with other elements in the garden i.e. it’s nice to have a good contrast with a lush green lawn, and pick up the same texture in the edging of the lawn… there’s lots to think about!

8. Planting

It goes without saying that in a small space garden, you don’t want to go about filling it with huge trees and shrubs, that in time will become overpowering and take away all the natural light. Again, it very much depends on the theme, but I always feel that in small well-formed spaces, using plants and shrubs that have a nice natural structure always works well.

9. Traditional planting ideas

For a traditional themed garden, the use of some shaped Buxus can add some great features to a garden i.e. using Buxus spheres, in different sizes, clumped together or randomly spaced out can be a great, simple effect.

10. Modern planting ideas

Having a basis of woodland type shrubs such as Pieris, Azaleas, Photinia, Skimmia, Euonymous is great, but broken up slightly with some more architectural styled plants such as Phormium, Ferns, Cordylines, and some ornamental grasses to give it a bit of an ‘edge’.
So coming back to the title ‘small is beautiful’ – beauty will always be in the eye of the beholder, but if you take on board at least some of the points above, you will certainly be on your way to creating something ‘beautiful’.