An outdoor living space or a garden can be somewhat of a premium to many, particularly if you live in urban or inner-city areas.
Those of us who have a small garden or compact outdoor living space can find it difficult to maximise the impact and use, whilst creating a haven and our own slice of paradise. ‘Small Garden’, by John Brookes, attempts to address this issue, offering inspirational ideas for outdoor garden designs, creating a leisure or entertainment space, or something as simple as just an outdoor garden design in which to relax in.
So if you are in the midst of Pinterest boards, books, magazines and tear-sheets, some of the ‘outdoor living’ ideas below may help in achieving that all important creative and refined garden design.
Small pergola/shading structure – garden design
Traditionally used to frame a walkway, including a small pergola in your garden design, perhaps simply attached to the back of the house, creates definition, interest, specific zoned areas and that all important place for alfresco dining. If space is tight, just a simple overhead structure with wired canvas is an option to create the same effect in a compact area. Punctuate the pergola with small, colourful plants to really draw the eye.
Catherine MacDonald’s Gold medal winning garden design at the Hampton Court Flower Show in 2012 (below) is a perfect example of how to incorporate a shaded social area in a compact garden space.
Create small zones – garden design
It may sound contradictory, but by breaking up the space and creating defined zones, the space will feel larger. Whether this is created by introducing simple groups/zones of furniture, pathways or planting areas, you can make the most of the small space you do have.
An example of this is the Society of Garden Designers 2014 ‘Pocket Garden’ winning space, ‘The River Garden’ by Rosemary Coldstream. A challenging space and unusual location, in that a river flowed at the bottom of the garden, Rosemary has separated up the limited and usable area into three defined areas on different levels; raised planting, occasional seating positioned at the edge of the river (reminiscent of a jetty), and stone walkways/pathways that become a garden design feature in their own right.
Go vertical – garden design
As noted on the RHS website, “with gardens becoming smaller, making use of every surface makes sense and can look striking. Many types of plants will tolerate the high life in a green wall, from herbs and fruit to grasses and ferns. Whether in sun or shade, covering walls with plants can enhance the smallest of spaces” (Royal Horticultural Society 2015).
So if you have limited ground space in order to have turf or planting beds, then vertical greening may be an option. With the use of simple wall shrubs and climbers, something like Californian lilac or Asiatic jasmine for sunny south or west-facing walls, or Boston ivy and Chocolate vine for shady north or east facing walls, climbers are a great addition to your vertical wall to ensure great coverage and colour to your outdoor living space.
For more ideas on how you can transform your own green spaces into gardens or a lovely outdoor living space, visit the RHS Garden Design advice section.
If you want to develop your Garden Design skills and knowledge further so you can improve your own garden, we offer a Level 3 Diploma in Professional Garden Design.
Or for those who are interested in pursuing an Interior Design career specialised in outdoor spaces, the BA (HONS) Design for Outdoor Living degree course is the perfect pathway.
For more information on our courses visit the National Design Academy website here.
Apartment Therapy (2014) Vertical Gardens 1 & 3 [Online Images]. Available from: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/inspiration-vertical-garden-pa-110928 [Accessed 24/03/15].
Catherine MacDonald (2012) The Landform Garden 1-3 [Online Images]. Available from: http://landformconsultants.co.uk/portfolio/design/the_landform_garden.html [Accessed 20/03/15].
Deco Hubs (2014) Vertical Gardens 2 [Online Images]. Available from: http://www.decohubs.com/vertical-succulent-garden/6004 [Accessed 24/03/15].
Rosemary Coldstream (2014) The River Garden 1 [Online Image]. Available from: http://rosemarycoldstream.com/2015/02/sgd-awards-2014-pocket-garden-award/ [Accessed 24/03/15].
Rosemary Coldstream (2014) The River Garden 2 [Online Image]. Available from: http://rosemarycoldstream.com/2014/07/river-garden-st-albans/ [Accessed 24/03/15].
SGD Awards (2014) The River Garden 3 [Online Image]. Available from: http://www.sgdawards.com/2014-award-winners/4588203184 [Accessed 24/03/15].
The Royal Horticultural Society. (2015). The Royal Horticultural Society – Green Walls. [Online]. Available from: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=547 [Accessed: 24 March 2015]