London Life in a very cramped nutshell; avoiding yours and others’ bodily odours on the commute, living in a shared house will into your thirties, and wondering if having a window box counts as a garden. Ah, the dream; of green, open space, of hosting barbecues for friends and reclining in the summer sun. Because as any dweller in the capital will tell you, when it comes to living in London or any other big city, for that matter, space is at a premium. But if you are lucky enough to have a little piece of potential paradise out back, then here’s how to make the most of it; our 5 IDEAL ways to transform your small city garden.

CREATE PRIVACY

‘It’s better to be looked over than overlooked’ said the great Mae West, and while in most cases this rings true, in terms of a city garden space, it perhaps misses the mark. Because when backyards are small and cosy, one of the biggest issues is that they’re also lacking in privacy. Nosy neighbours (or equally those simply going about their business) will see and hear everything if you don’t make efforts to add privacy to your space. Consider installing a fence with decent height or bringing in pot plants with a deliberately vertical stance to give that impression of separation from your neighbours. Go further by identifying any blindspot in the view from their upper floor windows into your garden and make the most of it; place any communal areas like chairs and tables in that space.

LAYER YOUR LIGHTING

We all coo and swoon over a garden space given a little sprinkle of magic with twinkling fairy lights or the flicker of real candles, yet never have the volition to do it ourselves. But layered, multi-vehicle lighting can bring so much character and energy to an outdoor space that it really is worth the effort. You’ll need a fully weathered transformer plug to ensure safety, the fairy lights themselves, some glass jars or other vehicle for candles and that’s about it.

Harness the power of layering by using some lights to shine a light on garden features like small trees, plant pots and other decorative garden features, while deploying others for more practical purposes, such as providing a brighter space to eat around or illuminating pathways. The true benefit of such lighting is the depth it creates in a compact space. And in the small city garden, that’s exactly what we’re after.

EMBRACE THE SPACE WITH BUILT IN SEATING

Too much furniture in a small garden can leave it looking cluttered, or worse, a dumping ground, and the wrong type can eat up valuable space that you simply can’t afford to lose. The answer? Built in seating. This works by harnessing an organic back support already in place (such as that towering fence you earlier installed) and simply building the necessary seating element to match. Aside from the space saving aspect of this, it can also be a money saver; you don’t need much more than a perch fashioned DIY style from pallets or crates to realise the concept.

ADD SHELVING, HANGING PLANTS OR A LIVING GREEN WALL

Potted plants on rustic looking shelves are a fantastic way to maximise your garden’s expansive potential, as it’s all elevated above ground and therefore not taking up the most valuable real estate of floor space.  In terms of thrift, shelves can be sourced incredibly cheaply; any plank or pallet does the job perfectly. And hanging plants can add that a pop of colour to your garden without taking up floor space. Flowerbeds, grass, standing plants…they all add up to clutter in the eyes of the minimalist landscape designer.

Anything that sends the eye upwards will make your garden seem bigger. Consider planting climbers like honeysuckle or jasmine over any walls and fences  You could go a step further and even create a living green wall. These vertical gardens are a fantastic way to add some greenery to any garden low on space.  One word of warning; don’t completely write off plants in the name of space saving. They bring untold benefits to any area of the house, inside and out.

TRICK THE EYE

Half the battle in any small garden space is to create more of it. The other is to create the illusion of it. One of the most effective, efficient ways of doing so is with a mirror panel – an incredibly simple way to make any garden (or domestic space for that matter) look larger. Place them strategically to reflect your plants, in doing so making your garden look twice the size. However, consider placing a pretty trellis around the mirror to stop anyone walking into it – safety first!

While we’re on the subject, another useful trick often deployed by interior and inner city landscape gardeners like Garden Line is to create a border around your garden or patio. While this may mean sacrificing a little lawn space, it breaks up the line of vision, therefore making the garden seem bigger. Running on that theme, adding a further level to your garden, for instance via a raised area for your patio, or central path, will bring depth once again. And last but not least, light colours and flowers can make any small space seem larger.

 

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Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.