It can sometimes feel that not much can be done with a small garden, let alone on a budget, but with the right advice this can all change…
We spoke to two garden experts to discover some clever and affordable ways you can transform your small garden into the outdoor space of your dreams. Richard Miers of Richard Miers Garden Design has been designing gardens for over 20 years and has some helpful points on how to get the small garden you desire, on a budget:
Make sure you really do want to make that change and see if you can keep and reuse what you have already. Draw or sketch what you have in mind and get it right first time. Measure out the garden, as getting it right will save money by not having to do it twice. Spend as much as you can on the best materials, as they will last longer and save money long-term.
RECRUIT HELPING HANDS
Have a garden party. Offer your friends a BBQ and drinks if they help you clear the garden, build the fence, lay the terrace, dig over beds and plant the plants. Paint existing fences rather than buying new ones. Use self-binding gravel rather than stone or bricks for paths or terraces, for example, Breedon Aggregates Amber Gravel or Wayfarer. The material costs are less and the labour costs are cheaper than when laying natural stone.
Shop around for natural stone as supply costs vary enormously if you're not too picky. Maybe use ceramic tiles rather than natural stone too but make sure that it's slip resistant. Visit recycling centres for unusual containers rather than buying pots. You might even pick up tools there. Reclamation yards are also a good hunting ground for all things exterior.
PENNY PINCH WITH PLANTS
Grow your plants from seeds or cuttings, swap plants with friends and neighbours, make your own compost and plant food. Herbaceous perennials or shrubs rather than annuals come back year after year. Be smart with your purchasing - bulbs are very inexpensive in the autumn. Bare root plants are more affordable in the autumn or winter rather than container grown in the spring or summer. Bare root trees or hedging plants in the dormant season are much less expensive than container grown. Don't be put off by smaller shrubs than you may initially want, as they will grow, you just need to be patient.
Use unfashionable brown indoor furniture outdoors and paint it to make it last longer. It won't last forever but could see you through until you can afford more robust and weatherproof teak or oak chairs and tables.
'Having a small garden should never hold anyone back from being creative with their outdoor space,' Neil Francis, senior category manager for garden maintenance at Wickes, says. 'A number of things can be done to give smaller gardens a unique flair.'
Here are Neil's top tips to cost-effectively maximise small garden space:
Tiered planters can maximise ground space available for flowers and herbs. For example, the Rowlinson Tier Planter (£169.99) can be used as two separate planters, giving you the option to move it around the garden to make different features.
FOLD UP FURNITURE
Fold up furniture is also helpful in the garden as it can reduce clutter. The Rowlinson Plumley Bistro Two Seater Set (£101.99) features two fold up chairs and a table for easy storage, so people can soak up the sunshine and stack them away in the colder months.
This can also be effective in smaller gardens – laying slabs on the point so they are in a diamond shape can give the optical illusion of a bigger garden.
STRONG LANDSCAPED LINES
Small spaces can also be made attractive with a crisp, contemporary look and strong landscaped lines. This can be achieved by creating interesting interlocking zones with distinctive materials like wood-stained decking or decorative stones, which will help you to achieve a stylish look in even the smallest of gardens.