Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all live in the countryside and have beautiful gardens, wooded areas, ponds and somewhere for the children to disappear off to? How about pouring a glass of cold wine and sitting with a bowl of olives on your patio looking out at the rolling hills? Ok, this is my dream, and actually I’m sat here with a cold cup of tea looking out at a postage stamp of a garden with rolling roofs as a view. Your city garden doesn’t have to be duff. It is possible for us city dwellers to have a really smart space that is both functional and leafy. If, like me, you’re uninspired and have no idea how to make your patio fit for a party, or your pots productive, then read on to get glean some tips.
Work out your space
It may seem tiny but you could be surprised by how large the area is once it is cleared of clutter and the general garden detritus that we collect. Get out and clear up so that you can take some proper measurements to make a plan.
How do you want to use it?
You need to decide what is you actually want from your outdoor space. We went against small city garden advice and decided to have a grassy area. We felt that it would be nicer for the children but it may suit you to have zero maintenance and go for a patio. Maybe you want to grow as much as possible or maybe you need to block a nasty view. Prioritise what your requirements are.
You may already have fixed ideas about the style of your garden, but if you have no clue, then buy some gardening magazines or get some books out from the library. Make yourself a folder and snip out cuttings when you see something you like that you think may be transferable to your space. You will probably work out quite quickly what type of garden you’re drawn to, whether it’s formal and structured, or flowing like a cottage garden. Both these types and others can be incorporated into a small space.
Some people think of certain garden adornments as tacky but there are ways to create an atmosphere in your space with resorting to naff items. Some small lanterns or a discreet water feature can add soothing lights and sounds and make a brilliant outdoor space for entertaining or simply relaxing.
Pots are the small garden owner’s friend. There are countless styles, shapes, colours and sizes and numerous outlets to purchase them in. Almost anything can be grown in a container: small trees, fruit shrubs, perhaps roses or exotic plants. They can line the edges, cluster on steps or be hung from walls and fences. Box shapes are often an effective way to maximise space while adding structure to your urban design. The possibilities are endless and you don’t need to be a horticulturalist or have an urban design job to make your space fabulous. Everyone can have a go. In fact, I’m going to get a hot cup of tea and sit in my garden with a magazine and get some ideas to improve my own.
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Sam Wright is a urban journalist and dweller of small spaces with pots of advice.