A small outdoor space is still outdoor space. It’s all about making the most of it.

This summer you’ll find us revitalising our unloved patios, opening up our modest balconies and al fresco entertaining in the backyard thanks to these space saving and garden decorating ideas.

Vertical gardens

When ground space is limited, it’s time to garden upwards. The recent trend of vertical gardens is seeing gardeners reach new levels of creativity. Literally.

Originally conceived as a way to make the most of tiny urban spaces, it’s now one of the most popular ways to turn your outdoor spaces into a work of art. 

A living wall will always grab attention, and the extra work you need to put into gravity-defying gardening will be well worth it. 

Charlotte Rogan from The Lakes Garden Company, in Kendal, says: “Vertical planting can be done in a number of ways whether it is with trellis to train climbers up or attaching fence panels and wooden pallets to walls in order to hang pots, baskets, and planters off. 

“Frames can be added to walls or fencing and can be any shape you like, you can get creative with different structures. You can plant edibles or ornamental plants depending on what your needs are.”

Window boxes

What if your space is barely a space at all? If you’ve got a window, then you’ve got a potential garden. 

Whether you want to improve the exterior of your home or your view when looking out, a window box can be that extra bit of colour that you crave. 

They are easy to make from trusty old pallets, driftwood, or pieces of fencing – of course, they’re readily available to buy in just about any size to fit any window too. Once you’ve built and installed the window boxes of your dreams, it’s time to decide how to fill them. 

Aside from filling them with wildflowers, pansies and begonias, some people choose to grow herbs in them, or they can also look extremely effective with various ferns spilling over the sides.

Pack in the plants

No matter the size of your yard, your decking, or your lawn, there should be enough room to create a garden to be proud of. Even a balcony or a tiny passageway can become a green space. 

Part of what makes a garden feel like a secret oasis is a sense of the plants dominating and nature being at the forefront. If a jungle vibe is what you’re going for, you can incorporate masses of vegetation among bamboo structures to the point where no wall space is visible. If there’s a gap on the floor, it’s always worth considering whether you can fit a pot there. 

To truly take yourself away from the hustle and bustle of the world beyond your front doow – or create that little bit of privacy from your neighbours – there is every reason to pack your space with plants.

If there’s any room overhead, there are all manner of hanging plants that might work there too.

It can be a fine line between a busy garden and a mess, so be prepared to maintain your plants and cut back when things become a little overcrowded. 

Charlotte Rogan from The Lakes Garden Company says: “If you have a shed or an outdoor building, why not try planting the roof? This will bring colour and movement for birds, butterflies,  bees and insects. It also helps to slow rainwater runoff and reduce the risk of flooding. 

“Roofs that are easily accessible are really suitable for growing herbs and shallow-rooted crops, such as salad leaves and strawberries, just to mention a few.”

Make space for a seat

Your garden should be your private space to relax, which means you’ll need somewhere to sit. 

Even if there’s room for little else in there, your garden should be somewhere you can escape to. A bench propped against your house or shrouded in bushy shrubbery can offer a secluded space to switch off for a while. 

You can make simple and effective furniture from those versatile pallets, or a plank balanced on two breeze blocks – as long as it does the job. For the ultimate in relaxation though, two poles, trees, or hooks in walls are enough to hang a hammock. We can’t think of many better ways to spend a summer.

Pergolas

One thing you can guarantee with a British summer is that it won’t all be fun in the sun. This is where a pergola could become the most valuable garden investment. 

When it is one of those rare scorching hot days, some kind of patio or porch covering could be that bit of shade that makes it bearable. When it’s one of those less-rare drizzly days, a simple covering could allow you to still enjoy your garden. 

Have a search online and you’ll come across plenty of free plans to help you build your own pergola, or you can commission a carpenter to create one to your specifications. Garden centres and home improvement stores often have them for sale in various shapes and sizes too. 

Some fairy lights and a canvas cover is all you need to make your pergola an extra room of your house – like a conservatory, but at a much smaller cost.

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