Our Garden is Tiny With a Shed we Need to Access How can we Make it Attractive But Still Practical? James McNeith, Kent
“EVEN A TINY GARDEN CAN HAVE EVERYTHING!
Says garden designer Georgia Lindsay of georgialindsaygardendesign.com. I love the challenge of transforming even the smallest of spaces. It’s a case of being clear about what you want — and, of course, clever design. “I created this design for clients who wanted easy access from their bifold doors to an outbuilding where they store the bikes they use to commute to work. The key to this design was working with those access needs – a walkway with an expansive feel runs through the middle of the plot, with the decking laid across the garden to give the illusion of more width. This makes the garden look really appealing, as well as being very functional. “It’s a tiny garden, measuring just 6.3 x 4.7m, but every inch of it is used. There’s a seating area in which to entertain, attractive planting and a water feature.
Different levels also make it look much bigger than its petite dimensions – beside the raised walkway is a sunken seating area with raised beds behind. “Creating zones on varied levels gives the illusion that the space is bigger than it is and the feeling that you are stepping into different rooms,” Georgia says. “If this garden was split up in the same way, but all on one level, it would have a really different feel.”
Outdoor snug When space is tight, it’s a great idea to have a multifunctional structure. Georgia designed a bespoke feature combining multilevel flower beds and a two-seater sofa positioned in the sunniest spot. It’s made from solid 10 x 21.5 x 44cm concrete blocks (available from builders’ merchants), which are rendered and painted with masonry paint. The flooring for this suntrap is black limestone pavers that help to radiate the heat upwards. “When you’re in this seating area it feels like an intimate little niche because you are sitting quite low. You are encased with lush planting all around you so it’s a room within room,” says Georgia. And having the variou levels within the raised beds is ideal for layered planting and ensures there’s always lush foliage with pops of seasonal colour.
Statement walkway Being creative with the placement of decking can help to make a small garden look bigger. Georgia says: “Think about the angle of your decking having it on a diagonal can be effective; changing the direction of the decking looks good too.” Hardwearing Yellow Balau wood was chosen to provide a pleasing contrast to the paving. “It delineates the zones, and the contrasting textures add an interesting interplay with light and tone,” explains Georgia. Small decking lights illuminate the way after dark, and coloured filters are perfect for changing the mood for parties.
Good looking shed It’s easy to fall into the trap of having a small shed that becomes an unwanted focal point. Georgia’s approach was to install a much larger shed, which took up almost the entire width of the garden, to become its new rear boundary. “I chose a pent-style shed so the roof is angled back away from the house. From the upper windows of the house it’s a more pleasing sight than a flat roof,” says Georgia. Bespoke wooden cladding, exactly the same as that used to cover the fencing, helps the structure ‘disappear’. “There are so many ways that you can integrate a shed,” says Georgia. You could turn it so it’s side-on to the house and grow plants up a trellis on the side. You can top a flat roof with shingle cladding, or create a green roof using sedum.
Extra privacy Terraced house gardens have the inevitable issue of being overlooked. A living screen can provide a solution, but the clever choice of tree or shrub is important since some can end up making the garden feel even smaller. In this garden, a mature fir tree was blocking out light so Georgia replaced it with a line of carefully planted bamboo. “The good thing about bamboo is that it provides a pleasant screen,” says Georgia. “It has a feathery lightness, allowing light through.” Take advice when picking a bamboo variety and manage its invasive tendencies by planting it in a reinforced trench or a deep metal trough Here, there’s a foot-deep planting channel, about 50cm wide, lined with a root barrier membrane especially for bamboo.
More is more! With space at a premium, a less-is-more approach would usually rule out a traditional water feature, yet for a garden like this, such an element is particularly beneficial. “The sound of trickling water can distract from the peripheral sounds of neighbours and traffic noises,” says Georgia, who installed a tiny aluminium cube with a pump, directly behind the sofa. There’s even a tree packed into this plot. “A fig tree is an ideal plant to put into a raised bed because they like their roots to be restricted and love free-draining soil. It’ll produce large leaves, which will create welcome dappled shade in the summer,” says Georgia. The fig shares the central space with a variety of sun-loving plants, including orange crocosmia and cheerful trailing nasturtiums. When the sun goes down, pockets of lighting give the lounge area a cosy feel. “I recommend adding lights within the plants because they illuminate the foliage, casting amazing shadows, without being harsh,” says Georgia. TIP Paint the render on raised beds grey rather than white, which can quickly look scruffy and requires painting annually There’s a water feature hidden in here!