The Best Small Garden and Patio Layout Ideas

Would you like to turn your small garden or patio areas into a space where you can confidently invite friends and family over for a pleasant and relaxed evening in the sun? We’ve prepared some fantastic layout ideas for a variety of small garden or patio shapes and styles, designed to help you make the most of your space.

These practical layouts can also be great for improving the functionality of your garden, and offer advice on the use of outdoor furniture and plant layouts to meet the shape of your garden. So let’s get started!

Know your small garden shape and style

We believe that even gardens with the smallest space for furniture or plants can be arranged to give the impression of space, and allows for functionality beyond what you might expect!

Before you jump into looking at garden furniture, though, you should consider the size and shape of your garden or patio, and understand what might be introduced to it to make it ideal for guests and to make the most of your garden shape.

Make the most of your Urban garden

Urban gardens often come in the form of small patios or concrete spaces, and sometimes share a wall with neighbours (this is most common with terraced city houses). With the right layout, these compact gardens or patios can look fantastic, and the natural heat trap can make it ideal for whiling away a summer evening with a good book.

Introduce border plants for privacy and beauty

In spaces like this, we recommend introducing some greenery along the borders of the space. This greenery provides a number of benefits, from giving you something beautiful to gaze upon, to providing that small piece of nature for your mental well-being. Consider also that if the greenery is tall enough, it can also act as a privacy window for your urban garden.

Consider a mini-cottage style effect

When it comes to garden furniture, consider adopting a mini cottage-style garden, utilising a plant stand to create multiple layers of soft greenery and wildflowers, and a small bistro set to welcome guests to this new, relaxed, environment.

If you still require more privacy, consider also using box hedging or trellises with climbing plants around your borders.

a plant storage stand

Introduce some greenery to your patio

Paved patios, much like urban gardens, are often enclosed gardens found in towns and cities. These gardens often look smart and sophisticated through their patio tiles, but may need uplifting through the use of greenery.

Greenery is ideal for reducing the harshness of the lines created when the patio meets the walls. A great suggestion would be to include a ‘living wall’ as part of your patio garden. To create one, simply install a trellis onto the wall, and introduce a climbing plant at its base. As it expands up the wall, it will create a beautiful green focal point for you to enjoy.

Having further greenery, either on plant stands or in individual pots, can also help your garden to become more vibrant.

Use lightweight furniture

Due to the enclosed nature of many patio gardens, having lightweight and easy-to-move furniture is a must, so you can adapt your seating position to follow the sunlight throughout the day. A lightweight loveseat is ideal in this situation, as it will sit closely against a wall for admiring your garden, and can be easily picked up and moved to allow you to follow any natural light your garden receives.

Use compact furniture for your balcony garden

There are multiple ways to make the most of your modern balcony, which believe it or not, has great potential!

Emphasise your views

If you are lucky enough to have a balcony with a view, you can make it look bigger by simply arranging your seating to make the most of these views! Consider also that a balcony is a small space, so seating and tables that you can easily pick up and move are a must. From there, simply arrange your seating to make the most of your view.

Consider statement plants

Greenery can be a great addition to your balcony, and when combined with the furniture mentioned above, can enhance a balcony that doesn’t have a beautiful landscape to admire from. With this in mind, consider the use of statement plants. These can be anything from hydrangeas to jasmines. Even bamboo makes for a striking feature plant!

Build a small vegetable garden

Introducing plants and herbs like strawberries, basil, and tomatoes, can be a great way to make your balcony feel bigger. Hanging these vegetables from your balcony railing is a fantastic way to make your balcony seem larger (you’d be surprised how much you can fit in a small space), and has the added benefit of giving you fresh, home-grown produce to enjoy!

Build a private space

Some balconies don’t allow for the privacy that some owners desire. If this is an issue you are concerned about, consider using climbing plants or utilising privacy screens. From there, consider applying one of the above layout ideas to make the most of your balcony.

Adapt your small zonal garden

As mentioned above, zonal gardens can be a great way to make your small garden seem larger, and they can help your garden to fulfil potentials you never knew it had!

What are garden zones?

To create a multi-zonal garden, you simply need to create a number of spaces where different elements can be implemented. We would recommend that you utilise the skills of a landscaper when creating a multi-zonal space, but if you are a confident gardener and DIYer, you may find there are steps you can take yourself.

If you are looking to make a change in your multi-zonal garden, or hoping to introduce one, consider these zone types:

  • Bushes and short hedgerow provides greenery which is pleasing to the eye and easy to maintain.
  • Patios can create a pleasing contrast to grass, and is easy to clean and maintain.
  • Grass provides a space for you and your guests to enjoy sitting down, and depending on the type of grass and if you allow it to grow, it can also introduce new wildlife to your garden.
  • Plants and raised beds. As well as creating a sense of space through the straight lines of a raised bed, you can also enjoy the sights and scents of wildflowers, fruit, vegetable and herbs.
  • Decking provides a rustic look and feel to the garden, and is exceptionally easy to clean.
  • Screens can make your garden feel like two different locations, allowing you to effectively split things like vegetable plots away from your relaxing areas. You could also consider growing climbing plants up the screens too.

There are many ways to create a zonal garden. We recommend taking the time to understand the size of your garden and what you would like from it, and then see how your zones may fit together.

Due to the vast number of options available through zonal gardens, choosing the correct furniture can only be done when the zonal space has been decided, and you should ensure that you consider where your largest garden objects (sheds etc.) will go, before designing your new zones.

Structure your tapered plot gardens and awkwardly shaped gardens carefully

Some gardens require a bit more attention due to their tapered, awkwardly shaped, or thin natures, but fear not! There’s plenty to be done with awkwardly shaped gardens.

Introduce greenery

As always, introducing greenery and plant life to a garden can help to make the space feel more alive and welcoming. With thin gardens, well-placed greenery can also create a cosy and intimate atmosphere.

Consider planting flowers along the borders, both in planters and running up sections of your garden wall and fence. Consider layering your plants as well, to create a feeling of depth.

Create garden zones

You can create ‘zones’ in your garden, where parts of the garden are broken up into different areas. These zones can be anything, from tile, grass, hedgerow, wood, and so on. Creating zones provides a stimulating experience, where you and guests can enjoy the layout of the garden, while the zones themselves create the image of a larger space and allow for greater functionality.

Snug furniture for those small spaces

If you have a thin garden, or one that is awkwardly shaped, we recommend introducing a love seat or bench, so you and another can fit snugly in the garden and enjoy the view.

a white bistro set on a patio

Overlooked city gardens

Gardens found across cities and towns, usually attached to modern townhouses, can sometimes feel overlooked, and lack a sense of privacy.

Use zones for your privacy

These types of gardens benefit greatly from zoning. A potential way to approach this with a small garden layout is to ensure that one of your zones allows for a seating space with privacy at its core. This means that your seats could be surrounded by elements like tall hedges, trellises with climbing plants, or decorative screens. Similarly, small trees could be placed to provide privacy.

The power of levels

When working with an overlooked garden, or a garden that slopes, you could also consider using levels when you zone, to make one or more of your spaces lower than the rest of the garden. This is a great way to introduce more privacy, especially if you implement higher fences around the lower areas.

Furniture to create further privacy

If privacy is your aim, you should also consider utilising arbour benches, which can be both elegant and provide great levels of privacy when climbing plants are grown up along the sides. Using a parasol can also be a great way to make your garden feel more private while also protecting you from the sun.

If you are on a budget and need privacy for your garden, consider also the use of a gazebo, although you must ensure it is properly pegged and secured to the ground.

Give your side garden a makeover

Side gardens can be difficult to work with, but there is also great potential for them to be transformed into your own small garden oasis!

Use light colours to reflect light

Side gardens are often high-walled, and may suffer from a lack of light. With this in mind, using light colours such as pale blues as you design your garden can help to lift it immensely, utilising the colour’s natural light-reflecting properties.

Introduce plants that won’t block out too much light

When selecting plants for your side garden, try to use plants that won’t grow too large. This will prevent your small garden from being overshadowed by greenery, while still allowing you to enjoy the benefits!

Create a focal point

Whether your side garden acts as a transitional point between your front and back gardens, or it is the only garden on your property, you should consider the idea of a focal point when considering the layout. This focal point can be anything from a distinctive flower bed, to a firepit, and provides a central point for furniture to sit around, whether it be benches or love seats.

You could also consider the furniture to be your central point, for instance, an attractive table and chair set. Making the furniture your central element then allows you to implement raised beds or other plots to grow fruit, vegetables, and other flowers.

Bear in mind natural light when planting

When looking where to place your flower beds, be sure to consider the type of plant you want to grow before laying out your plots. If those plants need a lot of sunlight to thrive, you may need to adjust your layout designs to include those plots on the side that gets the most light.

a parasol in a garden

Utilise your raised deck garden to create an inviting outdoor eating space

Raised decking is a fantastic way to zone your garden, and the different levels that come with decking make for an attractive and dynamic garden space.

Create a practical deck space

When considering your small garden layout, you should look to introduce comfortable seating and storage on your decking, and even a chiminea for those cooler evenings. This blend of furniture allows for a practical and relaxed space to pursue hobbies, and relax with guests.

Invite guests to your deck with stepping stones

Small stepping stones up to the raised decking can also help to emphasise it as the central garden destination, and using lighting in clever ways can really help to create a stunning and effective look.

Admire your plants and ornaments from your functional space

Depending on what lies beyond your decking, you could consider, ornaments, raised beds or flower patches to give you something to admire as you enjoy your raised deck.

Turn your long, thin garden into a visual treat

It can be difficult to picture the layout of a long and thin garden, as its narrow shape doesn’t allow for a great deal of furniture. If you lean into the shape, though, you’ll find that you can turn your garden into a beautiful space.

Introduce long green spaces

A good idea for these kinds of gardens is to introduce greenery and plant life that runs down the longest fences. This alone can help your garden feel larger and more alive, especially if you make plant layering a priority also.

Have furniture face out to your garden

At the end of your garden, place a garden bench or another piece of seating that allows you to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding garden.

Create a more dynamic route through your garden with a circular focal point

From there, you could also consider a central, circular focal piece for the centre of your garden, which you pass on the way down to the end. This could be a water feature, garden ornament, or even a distinctive tree.

Small rectangular or box gardens

Sometimes your garden may be too small to implement any large changes, and you might need to make the most of what little space you have. Believe it or not, these garden types also have great potential, and can be relaxing and multi-functional.

Zone your garden with differing floorings and plants

Consider first the idea of creating zones if your budget allows. This can help separate the different functions of the garden, giving each its own distinct feel. Alongside zoning, consider introducing a central patch with flowers, and even a short tree.

If you decide to introduce a tree, be sure to pick one that meets the tone of the garden you wish to create. For instance, if you like the idea of a Mediterranean-style garden, you could plant a small olive tree. Similarly, a more rustic garden could see an apple tree as its central piece, which alongside being green for a lot of the year, also offers fresh fruit to enjoy.

Consider the function of your zones

From there, look at the different functions you would like from your zones. A good way to make your garden multi-functional might be to introduce a seating area for you and guests to eat together. Using a simple fold-away furniture set here could be a great way to open up the space again when you need it. The other end of the garden could then benefit from a more relaxed space, which could utilise comfortable seating, and maybe even a chiminea.

Brighten up your walled courtyard garden

Walled gardens can be difficult to find a practical layout for, as the lack of natural light often found in this garden type means that plants can often struggle to grow. With this in mind, you should look to make the most of your furniture to create a welcoming space and find alternative methods to introduce a pop of colour.

a black gazebo in a sunny garden

Introduce an easy-to-maintain lawn

As a starting point, introducing an artificial lawn to your garden can really help to bring some vibrancy to it. It also has the added benefit of being incredibly low maintenance, so you don’t need to find space for a lawn mower! If you have sustainability and biodiversity in mind, you could also consider a moss lawn as well.

Consider plants that thrive in low light

Low-light plants can also be a great way to introduce some colour and biodiversity to your garden, which can really bring it to life. Consider implementing raised beds around the walls of your courtyard for these plants, which, aside from the odd sprinkle of water, should be able to survive well with minimal sunlight.

With plants in mind, you could also introduce trellises with crawling plants to your garden walls. This can really help to add a little colour to sometimes dull brick.

Use practical furniture or fully relax

Finally, lay out some furniture to help you make the most of the space. Practical furniture like a table and chairs can be a great way for you to enjoy the space and make the most of any summer heat. You could also position seating like these long benches to make the most of the sun while enjoying a nice quiet read thanks to the effective noise blocking of the high courtyard walls.

Further Small Garden and Patio Layout Tips

Include a chiminea in your garden

Use chimineas to introduce light and warmth to your garden on cooler evenings. The prospect of a warm fire surrounded by nature can make for a beautiful and intimate evening setting.

Introduce a focal point to place furniture around

Facing your furniture towards a central space can be a great way to make your small garden inviting, and gives you and your guests something beautiful to look at while you sit.

Use parasols to help zone your garden

Parasols can be very effective at helping to create zones in your garden, using shade and natural light to split the areas. If creating shade in your garden is a high priority, you should also consider reading our Affordable Ways to Create Shade in Your Garden blog too.

Use screens to help split up your garden further

The introduction of decorative screens can really help to divide your garden, emphasising specific areas for specific functions. This has the added benefit of helping your small garden look larger, while also blocking lines of sight for privacy.

Face your furniture towards your home

If you don’t have a focal point in your garden, consider facing your furniture towards your home. This gives an indoor-outdoor feel to the space, which makes it feel sociable and open.

Place your outdoor dining area closest to your house

Placing your outdoor dining furniture close to home, introduces a number of benefits, including:

  • Shelter from the elements
  • Easy access to the indoors
  • More seating options, if you only have a furniture set at the end of the garden.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you divide a small garden into areas?

Create zones, or ‘rooms’ in your garden. To do this, try introducing different styles of flooring, like decking, concrete and grass. This creates a visual divide, giving your garden a more dynamic feel. Be sure to also use flowers and trees to separate your garden, especially if it has a lot of concrete.

How do I design my small garden?

If you are a confident gardener and DIYer, figure out your garden type and follow design directions where you see fit. If you are new to gardening or have little time, consider utilising the skills of a landscaper to make your small garden beautiful.

Where do I start when designing a garden?

When designing a garden, it can be good to start with any large structures first. These could be sheds, water features, barbecues etc. This will help you decide how to make the most of the rest of your garden space. From there, consider how you would like to landscape your garden. Do you want to introduce zones? What about planters or trees?

What Colours make a small garden look bigger?

Lighter colours are great for making your garden look bigger, thanks to their reflective nature. Light blue, in particular, is great for reflecting light while also adding depth to your garden.

Do dark fences make a garden look smaller?

In general, dark fences and dividers can make a garden look smaller. This is because the darkness of the material absorbs light.

How do I get my garden ready for entertaining in the summer?

The layout of your garden is a vital step to making sure it’s ready for guests to enjoy. There are many other ways you can prepare for the summer, though, if you aren’t ready to change the overall look of your small garden or patio space. Consider reading our Tips to get your garden ready for summer entertaining blog, to see other ways to make your garden the place to be.

a black bistro set in a yard

Find the perfect garden furniture, with the Big Furniture Warehouse

At Big Furniture Warehouse, our range of garden furniture will help you not only feel comfortable in your garden, but also help to create zones, introduce different shades, and provide multiple functions, so you can make the most of your space.

Consider also the range of living room, and kitchen furniture that can be utilised both inside and outside the house, and ready assembled furniture that takes the pressure off building lots of new items in your garden and home.

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