Lifestyle and Decor

How to make your small garden an urban oasis

Private Property South Africa
The Roosting Venus |
How to make your small garden an urban oasis

Don’t despair if you don’t have a huge garden with rolling lawns, a well-thought out small garden can have a big impact.

Spring is almost here and with the warmer weather the outdoors calls. While many home owners don’t have rolling lawns and huge vistas, small garden spaces still offer countless possibilities.


Create a focal point or a view by adding a small tree, a pergola, a painted wall or a sculpture. If you look straight onto a garage or outbuilding, consider a lick of paint and adding a dramatic door or window for a whole new feel. Treat dead landscape nooks in the same way – turn a corner near a house or garage into an unexpected focal point – it can be as simple as adding an oversize container, foliage or flowers.


When you can’t go out, go up. Use height to the max. Get twice the flowers and foliage by adding a trellis or low fence behind every planting bed. Use creepers and trailers to adorn high spaces, and get blooms up high with containers like baskets, window boxes and wall mangers. These draw the eye upwards, making the small garden space feel bigger. You can also create a sense of space through a vertical garden or by raising planters – even just a meter or so – try retaining walls and raised beds integrated with features such as stairs – they too move the eye up and create a visual diversion from the lack of space.

Water feature

Get water-wise - you don't need a huge garden to have a water feature. Installing a water feature is a great way to handle low or wet spots in your garden. While you can invest in a designer water feature it can also be as simple as digging out the damp area and adding a pond liner and pump. Even a tiny oasis will attract a little nature.


Welcome in wildlife with bird boxes, bird baths, feeding stations, roosting pouches and insect hotels. Make a point of planting bird and insect friendly species. Birds, bees and insects appreciate even the smallest of gardens – and we owe it to the environment to make this a must.


Nutrients are generally depleted at a quicker rate in a small garden than in a larger one, so the quality of the soil needs special attention. Add compost, fertilizer, top-dressing and mulch regularly. Rotate crops regularly and pay attention to pests and diseases. In a small garden disease can spread quickly too, so deal with any issues as soon as they appear.


Although it seems counterintuitive, creating diverse areas by dividing your garden into sections can make it feel bigger as you don’t see it all at one glance. Even in a small space, an arch, a trellis, a hedge, a tree or steps can help create separate garden areas.


If you are going to pave or brick an area, don’t lay the flat edge towards your house in a small garden. Lay it on the diagonal to create a diamond shape creates the optical illusion of a bigger space.


A common problem with small gardens is other people looking in – and down - on them from surrounding buildings. Use arches and pergolas to create a secluded seating area, and cover them with climbers.


Nothing ruins the ambience of a backyard as efficiently as a collection of rubbish bins. Use wooden panels, fencing or a trellis to surround them and keep them well out of sight.

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