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We Transformed a Small Space to a Garden: A Case Study

By: Rachel Collier - Updated: 11 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Small Garden Courtyard Garden Small

When she moved into her Victorian terraced home Kay Welsh inherited a tiny courtyard garden which had been a dumping ground for the previous owners. Kay tells us how she transformed her outside space from tip to terrific with a few simple steps.

Design for Life

“Once I’d had the area cleared I could see what I had to work with. The garden was paved all over and pretty ordinary, but it was a good square shape so I had a basic framework there” says Kay. “I love to spend time in the garden on a sunny day so I wanted to design it with that in mind. That meant making room for seating and creating a peaceful and beautiful space where I can completely relax.” Kay opted to keep the existing paving and created raised beds to accommodate her favourite plants and help to give height and substance to the garden.

Sky High

Without a lot of planting space at ground level, Kay chose to buy climbing plants to grow up two of the sunnier garden walls. “I bought two beautiful varieties of clematis in complementing colours – their flowers are breathtaking and together they bloom from spring throughout summer.” Kay explains “Vigorous climbers like ivy would have dwarfed the garden in no time, and it’s important to choose all your plants with their full-grown size in mind. A good British summer might find you battling a jungle if you don’t plan your planting well!”

Blooming Great

Kay also planned her garden’s colour scheme in advance, knowing that a small space can quickly become cluttered by multiple hues. “I chose three complementing colours for the garden, but I think any more than that would have made it look very busy. My scheme is pink, purple and cream, and it works so well”, says Kay and her advice is very wise. Think of your garden as a room that just happens to be outside – many of the basic interior design principles work here, too.

Plan to Plant

When she chose her plants Kay opted for small and dwarf varieties that would give her garden a sense of scale, and also help to make it seem bigger. She explains “In a small garden you can’t afford to plant anything that doesn’t make an impact, but the good news is that you can afford to splash out on the plants you really want, since you don’t need many of them.” Among Kay’s choices were lavender, hosta and silverbush plants, none of which will crowd a small space.

Kay’s efforts have paid off and she is now a big advocate of the small garden. “A small garden can have as much impact as a big one, but it requires a lot less maintenance and I feel I really know every one of the lovely plants I’m growing.” Kay also enjoys the reaction that other people have to her garden, saying that her guests’ first word upon seeing it is usually “wow!” With a big plan, Kay’s garden shows that small really can be beautiful.

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