Make the Most of Your Small Garden 6 Creative Design Ideas

Big Ideas for Small Garden Spaces

The benefits associated with spending time in outside spaces are simply impossible to ignore. Our gardens can become the perfect gateway to better physical, mental & social health and they are just waiting for all of us just yards away, on our doorsteps.

It doesn’t have to be acres of vast verdant lawn and riotous coloured flowers either. 

Every outside space is an opportunity. From the courtyard to the backyard, the balcony to the terrace and the patios to the planters, there are wonderful small garden design ideas that you can draw inspiration from to find your perfect style.
East London Parasol Company is here to help with six creative ideas to kickstart your small garden journey.

Focus on Focal

Creating strong areas of focus by guiding the eyeline around a space is an essential element of a great design approach. For small garden planting ideas, that can often mean using colour in strategic ways around entry points to invite you in.


Whitney Bamboo Parasol

Whitney Round Bamboo Parasol 

Focal plants and evergreen shrubs, such as the wonderfully nicknamed ‘Little Health’ (Pieris Japonica), are adept at thriving in the sun or the shade and perfect for those challenging garden spaces. 

This little marvel offers seasonal variations with bright pink tips emerging all year round accompanied by a bloom of cream bell shaped flowers from March to May. With a compact average height and spread of only 60 cm, there’s plenty of room for creative potting too.


image credit: Debra Lee Baldwin
Image Credit: Debra Lee Baldwin


The Only Way Is Up

Vertical gardens are an ingenious way of making a striking feature out of a limiting restriction, and using the boundaries of your space for a wall garden is perhaps the simplest application of small garden design. 

For example, getting creative with pallet planters hung on the wall has lots of advantages for those of us that may find dedicating the time to our outside spaces a little difficult. 

It makes for a wonderful looking feature from materials that are cheap to source, often even free if you can reclaim pallets near you, they require no construction and are a firm choice for sustainability. Best of all, pallet planters will be a weed-free zone for any herbs or flowers that are reaching for the sky once you plant them there.

Emma Round Bamboo

Emma Round Bamboo Parasol 

Know When to Fold ‘Em

Like most health and soul nourishing activities, spending time in the garden is even better when you can share it with guests. With this in mind it always helps to have somewhere to sit and relax together.

Image Credit: Jo Alexander


As larger or fixed furniture is out of the question you could look to more adaptable and space saving ideas through folding chairs and tables that can be easily stored away or even left inside.

Wooden or rattan cube sets can be upholstered to match any colourway or design choices, with the ability to tuck neatly away when not in use. The space that the table top provides is also a great way to showcase fixed decorations and striking centrepieces with your small garden furniture, all year round.

Illuminating Evenings

When those long afternoons hanging out with friends in the garden turn into even longer evenings it’s important to light the way in style. Layers of light that come together in a balanced way are best for any outdoor space, but it’s even more important for small garden lighting.

Image Credit: Wayfair


A mix of up lighting and downlighting for features and planting will provide cohesive levels of illumination in interesting ways as the sun is setting. Remember that the goal with small garden lighting is to extend the view from the inside, so approach the garden as if it is another room. 

Replacing any harsher decorative wall lights with lanterns can soften the ambience and remove any glaring or attention grabbing focus. Adding areas of shadow and lower light is all part of your pallet too, so don’t be afraid to experiment with them. 

Maya Round Bamboo Parasol

Maya Round Bamboo Parasol 


Small Gardens for Mini Hands

Encouraging young children to spend time in the garden is a fantastic way to develop their appreciation of the natural world. Bug hotels and insect houses can become ongoing projects for you and your kids to share that take up relatively tiny spaces but create a big impact.

Image credit: Future
Image Credit: Future


These are great for pollination and pest control, attracting beneficial insects to contribute to a better overall outside environment for all. There is also nothing better for burgeoning gardening careers than getting their hands dirty in a mud kitchen.

Using clean soil, water and a simple planter with drainage holes, they can get digging, planting and building for hours of messy play. Anything can become a tool too, with old and unloved kitchen utensils given a second life as vital equipment for unlimited imaginations.

Make a Little Splash

Modest outdoor spaces can always offer opportunities for surprises. Small garden water features such as combined stone water cascades and planters offer functionality and tranquillity in concert with each other. They can be filled with succulents, annual flowers, or even herbs, and are often fitted with integral lighting as an additional feature.

Image Credit: Gardenesque


For a bolder statement, mini ponds can be created and maintained quickly and easily. Just choose a spot that gets consistent, but not full, sunlight all day and make sure you have a properly lined depth of around 30-60cm. Adding one or two plants such as Miniature Waterlily or Flowering Rush is enough to attract some welcome little guests. So, simply wait and watch for nature to take over.

Whitney Round Bamboo Parasol
Whitney Round Bamboo Parasol 


Whatever direction you choose to follow for your small garden, be inspired by the fact that you are joining a tradition that has endured for centuries. Creating an outdoor haven to augment your living space can be one of the most fulfilling elements of home design, so be confident, liberate your imagination and let your personality run wild.



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