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Big ideas for small gardens

By Staff Reporter

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Small gardens can provide plenty of outside space.
Small gardens can provide plenty of outside space.

You don’t need a huge plot to create a beautiful garden. Whether you have a small urban garden, a balcony or paved area or just a windowsill, you can create your own little corner of nature to enjoy.

Using symmetrical elements in a small garden will make it feel balanced and well organised. Large-format stone slabs or tiles on the ground, clean boundary lines, pots and planters or water features all work to make the space feel larger.

Mirrors make practical as well as pretty additions to small gardens as they reflect the light and create the illusion of more space and add a sense of depth. When it comes to furniture, think about a built-in garden bench – it makes the most of every inch of space and can also double up as a boundary wall for raised beds or storage.

If you are short on floor space, let your plants climb up the walls on trellis. Clematis is an easy-to-grow option with lots of different varieties flowering in all sorts of colours – from snow white to deep red. Wisteria is an elegant, traditional choice, though it takes a little more looking after. Or, you could think about a living wall – for the full effect go for irrigated fitted panels that you can fill with plants to create a lush green screen.

Beautiful purple clematis growing up a trellis.
Beautiful purple clematis growing up a trellis.

Pots are the patio or urban gardener’s best friend. They can be incredibly versatile – you can use them to grow flowers, herbs, salads, some vegetables, shrubs and even small trees. Combine pots in different colours, sizes and textures to keep things interesting and harness the power of perspective by placing larger pots closer to the house and smaller pots further away, creating the illusion of extra distance.

Just remember, the more containers you have, the more watering you will have to do during hot periods and the more dead heading and trimming you will need to do – but it’s definitely worth it. In fact, watering is top of the ‘to do’ list this month - as the experts agree:

Royal Horticultural Society:

August is usually one of the hottest months of the year – making watering essential. Try to use grey water wherever possible, especially as water butts may be running low if it has been a dry summer. August is traditionally holiday-time, so you might need to enlist the help of friends and family to look after the garden while you are away. When you are at home, take the time to prune summer-flowering shrubs.

David Domoney, gardener and TV presenter:

High summer is the best time to get outside and enjoy the garden – just remember to keep everything watered. However, Wisteria needs pruning twice a year, in August and again in January to ensure good growth and flowers next year.

It’s also the ideal month to take cuttings of woody herbs such as rosemary, sage and lavender – making sure you take new growth that hasn’t flowered this year. Don’t forget to trim lavender after it finishes flowering to encourage bushy new growth in the spring. If you don’t prune them, they will look bare and woody next year.

Alan Titmarsh, celebrity gardening expert:

Look after your tomatoes. Make sure you water evenly and weekly feed and then you can enjoy a succulent home-grown crop.

Believe it or not, now is the best time to get your daffodil bulbs planted for the best results next spring.

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