Browse through a selection of our favourite small gardens

We enjoy designing small gardens, transforming even the most modest garden areas into interesting, stylish and highly atmospheric spaces. Be it through the use of premium quality materials, expert design and planting to optimise or give the illusion of more space, or clever lighting to give ambience and highlight special features.

The Pebble Pool

Water features can often look black and murky. We decided to design a pebble pool, which is 25cm in depth. This allows the colour and shape of the stones to really shine through.

It was important to build the deck walkway to look like it was floating so as to not separate the two parts of the pool. The granite-clad sides of the water feature really compliment the colours and textures of the stones.

The Mediterranean Garden

When a client requires a modern, almost Mediterranean garden, it is important to include as much green as possible, as often Mediterranean gardens look sparsely planted with too much gravel. Here the grasses have been planted either side of the water and they complement the paving and the tall tiled screen. The differing colours of the tiles give the illusion that the space is bigger than it actually is.

mediterranean garden design

The Modern Family Garden

When designing smaller gardens, we endeavour to give the impression of a larger space. To accomplish this, we create dividing lines and varying areas of interest to attract the gaze of the viewer. In other words, when someone looks around different areas of the garden space and the eye drifts from one point of interest to the next, the garden will, in essence, look much larger than it is. To achieve this we begin by identifying the location of fixed utilities such as sheds, barbecues and seating areas, and then we find the best way to design planting solutions around these.

Surrey family garden design
small family garden design

The Summer Courtyard

If space is limited, avoid the pitfall of converting an open area into lawn or a seating area to try and make your garden look bigger. Rather, create the illusion of space by using diverse plant textures and surface materials, thereby adding interest and tempting the eye to travel here and there, taking in the varying looks and textures.

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The Courtyard Garden

When gardens are this small and the brief is to have plenty of lawn, we are left with one option  to create a garden using curves with one or two focal points. One of the focal points can be seen in this picture: a circular seating area. It actually comes as a kit so is very easy to install; one thing to take into consideration, however, is are you actually going to sit on it? This might seem like a strange question, but if a table and chairs were placed on the paving you would no longer be able to see the shapes. A small bench placed towards the back of the seating area would be a great alternative.

small garden ideas UK
medium courtyard garden

The Family Victorian Garden

The modern urban Victorian garden is one we definitely favour. The simplicity and elegance create an ambience which is difficult to replicate in a larger garden. One key ingredient in the recipe for the ideal urban Victorian garden is good-quality paving stone. In the traditional Victorian garden, the paving or lawn is framed with box hedging and, if space allows, a few flowers are added to brighten the space.

small urban designs

The Tranquil Urban Garden

Many people might think that a garden with a marked difference in heights is a drawback, and imagine that it would look so much better if it were flat. On the other hand, we, as garden designers, prefer to see the positive side and look at the opportunities presented by the variations in height. Such a garden allows us to separate it into spaces that add genuine interest and help show off the different surfaces and textures in a more dramatic way.

The Cascading Pools

This is another great example of how curves work in a garden. The brief was to have an area of astro turf and make use of the two existing heights. We achieved this with the use of a curved wall leading to a water feature. Water features in any garden are a nice addition especially in smaller gardens with the sound of running water creating an atmosphere of tranquility and peace. There are many psychological reasons for introducing water into a garden, it gives you peace of mind that water is on hand.

The Floating Bench

Roof terraces are always challenging with load-bearing restrictions to high winds. Due to space being in short demand, we designed a floating bench. The planting has been based around a three-tiered display. The box hedge hides the soil and provides a green lush leaf all year round, the tall perennials provide a blaze of colour and finally the Silver Birch takes the eye away from the tall buildings, creating a more peaceful and relaxing garden.

The Entertainment Garden

For this garden the client requested no lawn. We used a less calibrated stone, a stone with variation so that the garden looks more gentle. The white walls compliment the paving with a seat made out of granite placed on top of the wall. The garden could be used, as requested, for entertaining lots of people whilst not looking like an entertainment garden. The client requested that the planting was bright and but to be more green and textured.

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Colourful Garden

This design illustrates an excellent use of colour, texture and multi-layering. We’ve made the most of a limited space. When choosing plants for a small garden, it’s essential to avoid bright, loud colours such as pinks and reds, which will overpower restricted spaces. Instead, this design uses light colours together with blues and purples, creating depth and interest without making the garden look too busy.

In addition to the clever use of plants, there is a successful mix of natural and man-made surfaces: the decking works well with the rendered wall, off-setting the bright white surface, which might otherwise seem dazzling.

Bold Modern Courtyard

One of the key concepts we often use in garden design is ‘less is more’. This garden illustrates the effect of this nicely. Less clutter will create more style and a greater sense of serenity.

Here the bold vases and villa-like white walls and edging speak for themselves, reflecting light back into the house and seeming to enlarge the garden. The overall effect is one of elegant simplicity, while the green-and-white colour scheme is both cool in summer and bright in winter. In this case this garden has the added advantage of being very low-maintenance.

Small Urban Garden

Lighting for small urban gardens is a must. It’s also easier to achieve a stunning effect using lighting in a small garden than in a larger one.

As well as being both beautiful and impressive, the correct use of lighting can create an enveloping ambience of serenity and peace, soothing away stress. Here we have carefully selected the areas to be illuminated, using subtle ‘uplighters’ to highlight specific plants and features. It is important to remember the view from within the house as well as from the outside seating area.

Terrace Garden

Any garden designer knows that terraces can be the most difficult areas to work with, where every centimetre counts. Terraces may also have multiple purposes, so we work with every client to determine the best use of space. In this case, the main use was as a social area for entertaining. The design keeps the lines clean, running parallel to the house, while the joints in the patio encourage the eye to focus on its width rather than its length.

When it comes to planting, there could be only one choice of plant. The simple, uncluttered shape of Box plants complements the elegant space with its sharp form and deep green leaf.

Electricity and Exhilaration

This striking design is an illustration of how perfect harmony can be achieved between the colours selected for different areas. The rich, dark tones of the patio are an ideal foil for the blue neon lights and the glass water feature.

This choice of colour for the patio means it must be used sparingly. Too much, and the garden will feel cramped and dark. This has been avoided by lighting the corners with white stone.

This garden was designed and built for entertaining. It is unabashedly modern and impactful, oozing electricity and exhilaration.

The Grass Garden

Using Architectural plants such as grasses in blocks look far better than planting a mass of vegetation such as shrubs if a minimalistic contemporary look is what you are after. Furthermore if space is minimal then these low growing grasses will need very little maintenance. 

Wood sits well within a mass of green as opposed to using more hard landscaping. The movement of the leaves will bring the garden to life, this movement will add to that connection with nature, which is always a necessity when the house could over power a garden. 

Contemporary Decking

This garden is an example of an extremely simple design which complements a certain type of building. We are frequently asked to create stunning designs to match the aesthetic quality of the house. Sometimes in these situations a simple lawn is the best solution. Anything further would detract from the integrity of the architecture.

The structure has been softened with a neat square of lawn, echoing the shape of the windows and complementing and contrasting with the rich colours and textures of the hardwood surround.

Dining Garden

When a garden’s layout calls for the softening of hard edges, this is usually achieved with the careful selection of flowers and of foliage layers and textures.

In daylight, this garden’s fresh white walls offer a gorgeous contrast to the dark wood, bringing the sense of balance that is essential to successful garden design. Come the evening, the subdued lights, plant shadows and flowing water feature throw a magical effect around the space, creating an irresistible indoor-outdoor feel, luxurious yet homely, which begs starlit dinner parties.

Featured on: Jonathan Mark Garden Design,Landscape Designer,London,