Small, courtyard gardens


Designing a small or courtyard garden

Most people living in towns and cities, where space is at a premium, have smaller gardens where the key to success in design is quality not quantity. Small gardens need bulk. Far more impact can be created with just a few species as opposed to cramming the space full of favourite plants leaving a cramped, cluttered look. People often ask if we can create a really special small garden. There is no garden too small for us and we have lots of ideas what to do! 

Top tips for a small garden

The sheer number of plants on offer in garden centres can make the selection a daunting process so leaving things out becomes just as important as deciding what to put in. Keep it simple. Less being more is the golden rule. We enjoy designing small gardens, it makes such a difference. Space is a precious commodity and so it makes sense to make the best of your garden, no matter how small, as a treasured extension of your home and… think big!
One idea done well is much more effective than a mishmash of things that don’t harmonise. It’s a common mistake to think that if you have a small garden everything in it must be small but in fact the opposite is often true. A few large, carefully chosen, plants can have much more impact than a clutter of smaller ones. Stick to bigger blocks of top performers with a long season of interest and limit the colour palate. For a sunny garden, Eryngium ‘Bowles Mauve’ coupled with Allium giganteum and Verbena bonariensis, will give three seasons of dramatic colour. If your garden gets very little light and is in shade for most of the day, make a virtue of that by specialising in plants that delight in the conditions you have. There are some wonderful, architectural ferns, coupled with Cyclamen, Hostas and hardy Geraniums will thrive in darker gardens and look superb. The most important thing, no matter what the size of your garden, is not to fight nature. This is something we are very keen to do when we design a garden.

Where to get ideas for small garden design

Many larger gardens have courtyard gardens integrated into the design. These are great places from which to draw inspiration for a smaller space.

Lamorran House Gardens near St Mawes in Cornwall houses numerous plants from the Southern Hemisphere and the Tropics. A great place to visit if you’re seeking inspiration for a tropical feel garden.

Heale Gardens is eight acres of beautiful gardens just north of Salisbury, Wiltshire. These courtyard gardens have gorgeous views of  the valleys and rivers. It also features an early twentieth century Japanese garden.

Claydon Gardens Middle Claydon, Buckingham were created during the late eighteenth century by the second Earl Varney. The walled garden sits behind the house and is rather expansive, sitting across two acres of land. The current owners have added a wonderful pool garden, and restored its nineteenth century greenhouse.