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How to Garden in a Very Small Space
Tiny gardens are even more important than larger ones. Everything matters when there is no space for correcting mistakes. And you will have to make choices - there's no room to cram all your ideas into a very small garden. Getting a pleasing balance of scale, proportions and dimensions will be vital to you as you transform an odd little plot into an intimate garden room. Your very small garden may be a 'well', overshadowed by buildings and trees, a small internal courtyard, or an open pocket handkerchief sized plot. Your fist choice is to decide on a look or style - formal symmetry, Japanese style - both are harmonious - asymmetric minimalism with good textural contrast, or an informal style where essentials are disguised as features. These other Workshops might be helpful: How to do container gardening; How to add a Japanese touch to your garden; How to make a pond without digging; How to lay a slab patio.
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First, assess your site, which sounds a bit grand, but you need to be organised in a very small garden. Truly tiny gardens won't have space for dividing into different rooms. You need to create a single outdoor room that maximises uncluttered floor space. An element of mystery will come from creating an illusion of your garden being much larger than it really is, whatever style you adopt. Depending on size, you may not have space for a table to eat at with guests. Do you have space for compost? It's worth squeezing in this garden essential, and storage is also important. If a shed is beyond the bounds of your garden, lean-to tool stores are an option, and built-in garden seats with storage beneath are another. Lawns may be impossible - many tiny gardens are too shady for grass; lawns need mowers and they need storage; and you may want to maximise people and plant space too. Raised beds add another dimension to planting and make a valuable increase to total planting space.
Your access is probably restricted, so everything has to be carried through your house. Stairs are an additional hazard. Plan ahead for installation of heavy, large objects and plants. And if you chose not to use space for compost, all garden debris will have to go back out via the same route.
Uniform treatment of your boundaries is harmonious but you will probably want to disguise boundaries anyway. Views out of a tiny garden are important if they exist, but if not, concentrate on creating good ones inside. Smaller gauge trellis panels will look in scale with the garden and can be used against walls and where screening is needed. If your garden is bounded by high walls and buildings, paint them a pale shade to lighten the area. If you need to make a boundary, walls or fences are both space-saving options. Make fences interesting either by making your own or customising ready made panels.
Scale is very important in small spaces. This does not mean everything in the garden has to be scaled down, rather than the different shapes and sizes make you feel at ease. You don't want to feel that one particular plant is bursting out of its allotted space. Include some larger objects - statues, pots, and also some larger scale planting, particularly if your garden has to be viewed primarily form a distance.
Try and avoid using too many different types of materials. Choose good quality paving, decking, gravel or bricks, the best you can afford. A smaller area keeps total costs down, but detail is much more noticeable. If you need to make steps, make them generous or even full garden width. This will help to give a feeling of space. Mirrors are useful for reflecting light, and creating an illusion of space with internal views. Place in line with windows, or make water features look larger and deeper with them. Garden mirrors must be heavy-duty type suitable for outdoor use. Dull walls can be enlivened and views extended with trompe-l'oeil paint effects. Make false perspectives, year round sunny views, or whatever is appropriate for your garden.
Although your plot may be tiny, you are not making a miniature garden. So base your choice of plants on the effect you are trying to make regardless of how few you will end up using. Unless you want very high maintenance levels, there isn't space to make a huge collection of different plants. Less really can be more, and a limited plant selection will produce more harmonious results. Use larger shrubs as an upper canopy or tree. When planting, you'll have to balance spacing with desired results, and accept that woody plants are going to need pruning regularly to keep them within the bounds of your garden. Climbing plants play an important role in very small gardens - use them to full effect, letting them scramble through other plants and up every vertical surface. Here are some suggested climbing plants for very small gardens: 1. All clematis, the late-summer flowering viticella types are particularly useful. 2. Some ivies including: Hedera helix "Parsley Crested" which has crimped edges to its leaves, also H. h. "Ivalace" H. h, "Pedata" and other small leaved forms 3. Hardenbergia violacea and sollya heterophylla are both tender climbing plants, but small city gardens will have shelter, so worth a try. 4. Humulus lupulus "Aureus"- golden hop, vigorous grower but can be contained. Good bright lime green vine type foliage, 5. Passionflowers. 6. Pileostegia viburnoides this is evergreen and self clinging. 7. Pyracantha rogersiana is good for autumn colours, and birds like the berries. Train it flat in espalier style. 7. Schizophragma integrifolia has beautiful creamy bracts, similar in style to climbing hydrangea, but not quite as vigorous.
Treat your small garden as an outdoor room
Keep the materials and plants simple
An effective use of a mirror

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   Making a cottage garden        Making a family garden
   Making a rock garden        Making a wildlife garden
   Making a woodland garden        Plan a garden from scratch
   Planning a spring border        Planning a summer border
   Planning a winter border        Planning an autumn border
   Revamp an overgrown garden        Revamping a Patio
   Shaping a lawn        Simple topiary
   Using colour in your garden        Using exotic plants
   Using microclimates        Using objects in borders

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