Small garden tips and tricks

When it comes to gardening; good things come in small packages, says Michael Perry.

Make the most of all space and grow upwards.
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The familiar phrase goes ‘size isn’t everything’, and it’s especially wise to remember that when it comes to our gardens. You can still do some great things in what you may see as limited space. Design tricks, the use of containers and the right plant choices can help you make the most of a ‘postage stamp’ size garden.  When planning your garden, don’t forget a space for you to kick back and chill out. Whether it’s a nice little bistro set or some homemade pallet seating/sofa make it yours by styling it with colourful and themed accessories.

1 Pots and containers

The benefits of a containerised garden is that you can move it around as often as you want, much like a jigsaw, so as one plant fades out, you can simply move it to the back! If you’re really squished for space, yet want to grow more, be intelligent about it and use square containers which slot together efficiently. And don’t forget you can grow fruit and veg in containers too. And if you need to up-sticks and move house/flat, you can take them with you.

A lack of open ground doesn’t have to mean you can’t grow plants. Rock plants often have minimal needs and can be planted in shallow pots or even between cracks in the wall, between paving slabs, or scattered about a gravel path. Adding these living touches softens the harsh landscaping too.

The benefits of a container garden are that you can move it around as you please. Image: Martin Mulchinock

2 Dress walls and fences

Think wall shrubs, climbers, tall planters… If you’re short of ground-space, then think about how they deal with that situation in places like New York, they go upwards. Make the most of your space with this clever space saving trick, and it doesn’t have to just be climbers either, why not consider using fantastic tower planters too.

There are a number of other ways to paint your fences with colour, but you won’t actually need a drop of paint. All you need is a nail or screw, and some drill know-how. Flower Pouches are those ‘flowering socks’ you’ve probably seen about, which can inexpensively change the colour of a brown fence. It’s possible to buy drain planters too. With so many great inventions these days, any space or surface can become a mini botanical paradise.

Make the most of all space and grow upwards.

3 Ponds and water

Ponds don’t always have to be dug into the ground, you can have a raised pond too, and it can be as simple as a wooden half-barrel. Take care with your plant selections though, and choose the miniature water lilies rather than the huge specimens. Introduce some wildlife to the pond too, but make sure there are slopes and escape routes for wildlife to get in and out of the water too.

A pond can be as simple as a copper pot. Image: Jean Vernon

4 Green roofs

Short of surfaces to grow? Think about adding a green roof to your flat roof extension or sloping shed roof. You can either build your own or buy ready-made ‘green roof mats’, which can easily slot into place. The easy care plants will include hardy succulents and bee attractants too, so it’ll be trouble-free and welcoming to wildlife.

Think about adding a green roof to your flat roof extension or sloping shed roof. Image: Martin Mulchinock

5. Lighter colourings

Avoid dark colours when choosing paving or paint colours for your outside walls. Darker colours can make the space look smaller, so choose some nice light pastels, or a gorgeous Spanish white to make the space feel better, and offer a better showcase background for your prized plants.

Lighter colours make a space look bigger. Image: Jean Vernon
Michael Perry

About Michael Perry

Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan. Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media - so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook.
View all posts by Michael Perry.