50 Clever Ideas to Make a Small Garden Look Bigger

50 Tricks to Maximise Space in a Small Garden

A small outdoor space doesn’t have to be limiting. 

If you’re strategic with the layout, lighting and colour scheme, you can make a small garden appear a lot bigger than it is. It’s a simple case of knowing what works – which is where we at DIY Garden come in!

If you’re after some inspiration, check out these 50 ways to make a small garden look bigger

1. Increase Planting Space With Shelving

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Sally (@madhousegardening)

Instead of using up valuable floor space, invest in a couple of weather-resistant shelves and plant vertically. Tall, narrow shelves look minimalistic and are an excellent way to make a small garden look bigger. 

2. Paint Fences to Blend in

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by @colourfencesolihull

To avoid harsh boundaries, which can make a small garden look even smaller, choose a fence colour that seamlessly blends in with the garden. You might choose green or light blue/grey for this garden design. 

For more fence inspiration, why take a look at this list of Garden Fence Ideas.

3. Create Seating Around Trees 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Gecko Greenscapes (@geckogreenscapes)

While they are certainly a garden essential, chairs can take up a lot of floor space. If you’ve got a tree in your garden, utilise the space surrounding it with a bench. It’ll make the perfect spot to sit in the shade with a cup of tea or coffee. 

4. Blur Boundaries With Plants

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Natalia Lindberg Garden Design (@nataliastradgard)

A harsh garden boundary will cause visitors to instantly focus on the parameters of your garden. A clever small garden tip is to blur the boundaries using plants. Use different sizes and ages of plants to add depth and texture. 

Check out our planting guides for inspiration on which plants to choose for your borders.

5. Change Your Perspective 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Gardenesque (@gardenesque_uk)

Playing with proportions can create the illusion of more space in a small garden. One of the best small garden ideas is to combine a narrow garden shed with large planters and climbers. Bigger plants and a smaller shed will give the impression that the end of your garden is further away than it actually is.

6. Combine Seating With Storage 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by The Garden Trellis Co (@gardentrellisco)

Buy multi-functional items to save space by combining seating with storage. Garden benches with under-seat storage are the perfect spot for cushions and blankets when they’re not in use. Alternatively, outdoor storage boxes can also double up as extra seating. 

7. Opt for Minimalist Furniture

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Stone Lotus Landscapes (@stonelotuslandscapes)

Busy furniture can make a small garden look overcrowded, dragging the eye to too many different focal points. If you want to keep your garden feeling serene and spacious, minimalist garden furniture is key. Go for neutral colour schemes and contemporary designs. 

8. Mix and Match Materials

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Smarthome (@smarthomdecor)

Many owners of small gardens make the mistake of sticking to the same landscaping materials throughout.

However, introducing subtle changes in materials around your plot will help create zones; this can make a small garden feel longer and more spacious. 

9. Choose Your Priorities

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by F i o n a (@threestoreyhome)

If you haven’t got a large garden, you’ll need to prioritise the areas most important to you. For keen hosts, this might mean the seating and entertaining area. One way to maximise a small garden is by making sure it allows you to fulfil your main objectives.

10. Create a Vertical Herb Garden

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Vertical Garden Supply (@verticalgardensupply)

Plant vertically and create a stacked herb garden. Vertical herb gardens are loved for their efficient use of garden space and easy maintenance. Basil, rosemary, mint and oregano are perfect for vertical herb gardens. This type of kitchen garden will bring a lot of flavour to your meals without using up valuable square footage outside. 

11. Free Up Space With Low-Level Seating

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Ecoscape UK Composite Decking (@ecoscapeuk)

Low-level furniture can make a small garden look bigger. It frees up vertical space and also means you can keep fences and boundaries lower as a result.

Also, low-level sofas and coffee tables have a fantastically modern aesthetic. 

12. Emphasise Cosiness

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by East London Parasol Co. (@eastlondonparasolco)

If you’ve got a small garden, make that a feature in itself: it will seem less small if it’s given purpose. Blankets, cushions and outdoor fairy lights will help you make a calm and cosy space that will harmonize with its smaller size.  

13. Illuminate Flower Beds

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Richard Adam Landscapes (@rich.the.landscaper)

Illuminating flower beds will take attention away from perimeter walls and make a small garden look bigger. Ensure the lighting is a soft glow as opposed to bright white. The key to making a small garden look bigger is to steer clear of any solid or defined edges.

Check out our page on The Best Garden Lighting Ideas for more inspiration!

14. Save Floor Space With Hanging Plants

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Land Morphology (@landmorphology)

In a tiny garden, where floor space is limited, opt for hanging baskets and hanging planters. These will maximise your planting potential without taking up valuable garden space that could be used for garden furniture. Small pots can be hung on your garden fence, wall, outbuildings or even tree branches. 

15. Use Light Coloured Materials

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Leanne Jayne (@our.home.in.the.cotswolds)

Dark materials can make a small garden feel enclosed and gloomy. Where possible, opt for lighter coloured materials to help open up the space. Neutral and warm colours are anything but boring when they’re used in such a refreshing way.

16. Maximise Space With an L-Shaped Sofa

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Jess (@canal_cottage_brum)

L-shaped sofas are more space efficient compared to regular outdoor furniture sets. They can usually seat more people in a smaller space, and a coffee or dining table can be tucked neatly within the ‘L’. Outdoor sofas are also a great way to bring some contemporary style to your garden. 

17. Place Garden Benches in Narrow Areas

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Jardin – Fermob Partner NZ (@jardin.nz)

A garden bench is a great option for a narrow outdoor area or small courtyard. The beauty of a garden bench is that it can be tucked against a wall and seat several people, easily maximising on space.

18. Embrace Hanging Seating

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by VonHaus.com (@vonhaus.uk)

Swing seats are not only visually striking, they’re also very space-efficient. Hanging seats free up ground space and bring a welcoming, laid-back vibe to the garden. Plus, they can be folded and stored when not needed. Just because you’re working in a small space, doesn’t mean you can’t have your dream garden!

19. Use a Garden Mirror to Open the Space

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Lindley (@lindleyandthe_no27_lot)

Nestling a window mirror in amongst your foliage will create the illusion of a secret garden hidden beyond your wall or fence. The perfect ploy to making a small garden look bigger!

20. Focus on a Clutter-Free Environment

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Carina (@just_cary_on)

Perhaps the most important way to make a small garden look bigger is to ensure there’s no clutter.

Too much fuss will easily make your tiny garden feel enclosed. Ensure that everything in your garden has a defined purpose and be smart with storage. 

21. Repurpose a Step Ladder for Plants

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Annie Sloan (@anniesloanhome)

Save space by using an old ladder as a planter. This allows you to build upwards, instead of using ground space, and can help make a small garden look more spacious. A leaning ladder planter is the most space efficient, but ensure it’s secured to the wall if you’ve got excitable children or pets. 

22. Incorporate Ornamental Grasses

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Clive Nichols (@clivenichols)

Bulky shrubs can make small garden feel enclosed. Instead, opt for light and airy ornamental grasses such as Stipa tenuissima, which can be easily grown from seed in dappled shade. 

Need some inspiration on which grasses to choose? Check out our Ornamental Grass Guide.

23. Whitewash Your Patio

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Valyōu Furniture (@valyoufurniture)

Make a small garden feel bigger by using white patio slabs. White reflects light which can make a small courtyard appear bigger and brighter. Not only this, white patio slabs will also bring an elegant aesthetic to your outdoor space. 

24. Combine Seating With Raised Beds

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by WoodBlocX (@woodblocx)

Sit amongst the plants and save space in your small garden by combining your garden seating with raised beds. Tall plants at the back make it look like there’s more foliage depth and, subsequently, make a small garden look bigger.  

25. Trade Gazebos for Awnings

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Piers Newth & Louise Allen (@gardenandwood)

To create shade in a small garden, consider an awning. Unlike gazebos, pergolas or parasols, they take up no ground space. Instead, they’ll attach to the side of your home, creating the feeling of an extra room, and only have to be extended when needed. 

26. Opt for an Arbour

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Becky (@my_villagehome_devon)

Choose an arbour instead of crowding your garden with a pergola or gazebo. An arbour can be tucked into the corner of your garden to provide a space-efficient and secluded seating space. 

27. Extend Your Interior Living Space 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by JELD-WEN UK (@jeldwenuk)

One of the best tips to help a small garden look bigger is to blur the boundaries between indoor spaces and outdoor spaces. If budget allows, opt for large glass doors to help make your patio feel like part of your interior. Matching the interior floor to the exterior is another effective technique. 

28. Add Structure With Architectural Plants

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Scott Wheeler (@wheeleroffortune)

Plants with a strong architectural shape can add dynamic interest to your garden; they’ll distract and pull focus from garden boundaries which can help a small garden look bigger. Use ferns, pines, curly kale and cardoons to add punctuation to your beds. 

29. Divide Your Garden into Zones

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by 3D MODELS & VISUALISATION (@visuation3d)

Dividing a small garden into zones can help a small garden look bigger; it gives the illusion that it’s longer than is. Different zones to consider include: spaces for entertaining, a reading nook, a vegetable plot and a play area. 

30. Draw the Eye Upwards 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Garden (@garden.ig)

A garden designer will often recommend having at least one tree in a garden. A tree will make the most of vertical space, draw the eye upwards and produce natural shade. Small urban gardens are often very overlooked, so a tree can provide some much-needed privacy as well! 

31. Split Your Garden into Levels

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Outdoor Designer Store (@outdoordesignerstore)

If you’ve got a sloped garden, splitting it into levels can help it appear larger. This will also allow you to interact with your own garden in a new way. If your small garden is flat, installing decking is an easy way to elevate the seating space. 

32. Utilise Your Garden Wall

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Kate Riley (@centsationalstyle)

One of the best small garden ideas is to make the most of every existing structure. Your garden walls, and fences, are perfect for climbing plants. You’ll save floor space and add both style and substance to your property boundary.

33. Create a Living Wall

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Richard Bloom (@richardbloomphoto)

Camouflage boundary walls with plants. Living walls can use either real or faux plants and both give the illusion that your garden goes on further than it does. 

34. Save Space With a Bistro Set

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Sarah Bayliss Interiors (@sarahbaylissinteriors)

Don’t waste precious outdoor space on a large table and chairs. Bistro sets provide the perfect spot to sip on a coffee first thing, but they take up a fraction of the space of contemporary rattan sets. 

We’ve reviewed some of The Best Garden Bistro Sets on the market – why not take a look?

35. Draw Focus With a Patterned Rug

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Sophie Josephine (@lifeatsophs)

A decorative outdoor rug will draw create a focal point in one area of your outdoor space, taking the attention away from the rest of your garden (and the boundary lines). 

36. Use Floor Cushions as Seating

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Iwona ♥︎ Home Flowers Spring (@sol.de.lavanda)

Don’t waste space by having more chairs than necessary – consider using cushions as additional seats. These will add a bohemian flair to your garden parties and save a huge amount of floor and storage space. 

37. Transform Your Shed in Summer

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by BARBAYDOS (@barbaydos_bars)

Make the most of your garden shed by transforming it into an outdoor bar in the summer months. I mean, if the structure already exists, why not take advantage of it, right?

Want some garden bar inspiration? Check out these creative garden bar ideas.

38. Squeeze in a Small Greenhouse

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Mary-Lou (@english_cottage_garden)

A tall and narrow greenhouse will allow you to grow different plants without sacrificing space in the garden. Choose a tall greenhouse lined with shelves to benefit from a huge amount of extra space for plants. 

39. Utilise Walls as Seating Areas

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by All Decked Out (@alldeckedout513)

Wall seating solves the problem of having to find an individual chair for each guest. Add colourful cushions, lanterns and blankets to keep your visitors comfortable. This is one of the best practical solutions and a great way to utilise an existing garden wall.

40. Paint Walls and Furniture White

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Home Interior And Decor In UK (@homeinuk)

If you’re struggling for small garden ideas, painting your garden walls white, and buying or painting white furniture, will instantly give the illusion of extra space. This is an easy way to make a small garden look bigger.

41. Choose Furniture That’s Easy to Store 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Signature Home Store (@signaturehomestore)

If you’re short on storage space, it can help to choose your garden furniture carefully. Chairs that can either be folded or stacked on top of each other are best. These can be easily pushed out the way when necessary which will help a small garden look bigger.

42. Put Your Seating Area at the End

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by R. Craig Eaton (@elmcottage1916)

Make your garden look bigger by having your seating area at the end of your garden. Having it close to the house can make the space feel enclosed. With it at the end, you’ll utilise more garden more often.

43. Choose Curved Borders

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by passion_for_interiors_gardens_ (@passion_for_interiors_gardens_)

Straight borders have a formal, rigid look that doesn’t do small spaces any favours. Sweeping curves on the other hand, can give your garden an informal feel and actually make a small garden feel larger. When it comes to garden design for small gardens, sweeping curves are the best choice! 

If you want to make some new borders, or change the shape of existing ones, why not check out our guide on How to Create a New Garden Border.

44. Keep on Top of Pruning 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Bramley & Bear (@bramleyandbear)

One of the best small garden tips is to stay on top of your garden maintenance. Cut back any wayward plants, weeds or grasses before they encroach the space. In particular, keep your walkways clear. 

45. Utilise Unused Wall Space

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Garden Artisans (@gardenartisansllc)

The area underneath a window often goes unused and wasted. Using this area for window boxes will allow you to grow more without sacrificing square footage. This is an especially good tip for those who don’t have much space for flower beds.

46. Embrace a ‘Strolling-Garden’

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Gardeners of Ig (@gardenersofig)

Create intrigue with a strolling garden; this involves laying walkways and dividing planting areas, a technique inspired by Japanese garden design. A series of ‘mini gardens’ will create a seamless flow and a sense of movement that makes a small garden look bigger than it is. 

47. Install Planters on Balconies 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Lina- DIY Decor & Plants (@ahouse_to_myhome)

Small balcony owners should utilise their railing. Installing planters along a balcony railing will help make the most of unused space, add interest and give you a little more privacy. 

Check out our guide to balcony gardening for more tips!

48. Be Strategic With Lighting

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Naomi Astley Clarke (@naomiastleyclarke)

Lighting is key when it comes to creating the illusion of more space. Stringing fairy lights or hanging lanterns above a small patio will draw the eye upwards as opposed to across. Clever visual tricks like this can make a small garden look bigger than it is. 

49. Embrace the Rule of Three 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Alice in Scandiland (@aliceinscandiland)

Applying both inside and out, the rule of three is perfect for those who are struggling with small garden ideas. Stick to three key materials and three key colours to prevent the garden from looking cluttered. Note the three dominant colours used in the garden above – these could easily be applied to your own garden.

50. Stick to Pastel Flowers

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Claudia de Yong (@claudiadeyongdesigns)

Big blocks of bright flowers can make a small garden look smaller by obstructing sight lines. Flowers in soft colours and pastels tend to work better – consider White Astrantia as pictured above, or dainty London Pride for your own garden. 

FAQs

How can I make a small garden look bigger on a budget?

  • Focus on utilising unused space – use the area below the window sills for planters and hang plants from baskets.  
  • Invest in a garden mirror to give the illusion of more space. 
  • Keep your garden well maintained and clutter free – cut back plants and shrubs before they overwhelm the space. 
  • Keep the colour palette neutral and avoid too many bright colours in either furniture or plants.

How should I lay out my small garden to maximise space?

  • Play with perspective – combine a small shed with taller plants to help a small garden look bigger and longer.
  • Make the most of vertical space with hanging baskets and climbers.
  • Divide your garden into distinct zones to draw focus away from boundaries.

Remember – there are still lots of options available to you: just because you’re working in a small space, doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your dream garden!

What are good plants to grow in a small garden?

The best plants for small gardens add texture and colour to the space without overwhelming it. 

Consider ornamental grasses like: 

  • Stipa tenuissima (Mexican feather grass)
  • Festuca glauca (Elijah Blue)
  • Pennisetum (Karley Rose)

Or, if you’re interested in growing your own produce: 

All can be planted vertically to save floor space. 

Additionally, add a pop of colour with these small plants:

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