14 Narrow Garden Ideas: Maximising Space in Long and Lean Landscapes
If you have a narrow, long, or thin garden, you have a few design challenges in your way when it comes to creating an outdoor oasis. However, your narrow garden absolutely has the potential to transform into a gorgeous getaway.
Maximising space in a narrow garden requires careful planning, creative design, and efficient use of available resources. But to get started, all you need is a little inspiration.
We believe that every garden is a blank canvas for creating your dream outdoor living space, no matter its size or shape. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 14 narrow garden ideas. Here you’ll find outdoor furniture suggestions and other small garden ideas to make the most of the space you have.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
1. Seek Out Multifunctional Furniture
Since you’ll be short on space in a narrow garden, you’ll need to find creative ways to include as much storage as possible. For example you can look into multifunctional furniture pieces or utilise outdoor sofas that have built-in storage compartments or console tables. Check out furniture that serves multiple functions for entertainment as well — like corner groups that double as sun loungers.
If your space allows, consider adding compact garden structures like modern pergolas, arbours, or small sheds. These structures can add architectural interest and shade while also providing functional space for plants or storage.
2. Avoid Overcrowding
It’s important not to clutter the space in a long, thin garden. Less is often more when it comes to narrow garden design. Prioritise a select few furniture pieces that you know you’ll use regularly. Perhaps that’s a casual dining set where you can both relax into a sofa and dine at a centre coffee table, instead of separate sofa and dining sets.
3. Prioritise a Place to Dine
If your aim is to spend more time outside in your garden, an outdoor dining area is a must. With so many garden seating ideas out there to choose from, you’re sure to find a dining setup that looks perfectly at home, even in a long and thin garden. A bistro set or a 4-seat dining table are both excellent options for small gardens.
Make sure to create a dedicated area for al fresco dining. A seating space could sit on a paved section at the very end of the narrow garden, for example.
4. Layer Your Light Sources
Outdoor lighting is an element that often goes overlooked in long garden designs. However, if you want to get the most use out of your garden and enjoy the outdoors after the sun goes down, you’ll need to think about adding some light sources.
In a narrow garden, you’ll need layered light sources that keep the area fully illuminated and visually interesting. For example, if you have a walkway spanning the length of your long garden, place lights along the pavers to light up the path.
You can also include subtle yet effective uplighting for trees, fountains, and any other tall features in the garden. A fire pit and wall sconces around the seating area will make sure that you can enjoy a romantic evening glow while eating dinner under the stars.
5. Make Sure to Have Shade
A pergola on the smaller side could shade a corner of the narrow garden. Or, you could have a walkway lead right down the garden to the pergola, where you can lounge on a garden sofa that’s protected from the sun.
Another great option is a cantilever parasol. These large umbrellas can shade relatively large spaces, such as a dining table. Plus, because they extend far over the area, they don’t take up too much ground space in the garden.
6. Let Your House's Architecture Inspire You
When it comes to a small outdoor space, you’ll want to establish a clear colour scheme. Stick to a limited colour palette for plants and hardscape materials. This creates a unified look that can make the space feel more cohesive. And what better way to determine your colour scheme than to take inspiration from your house?
If the exterior of your home is made of light brick, opt for sandy, warm hues and wooden outdoor furniture. If your home is more contemporary, aluminium chairs and a sleek ceramic table will complement nicely.
Alternatively, you can take colour inspiration from inside your home. So if you have a few accent colours you love in your living room, take one and make it the primary accent colour for your garden. Some great ways to add pops of colour in a narrow garden are with flowers, planters, and scatter cushions.
7. Create Multiple Levels
Adding tiers to your narrow garden will enhance its visual interest and keep it from looking like a boring corridor. For instance, you could include a raised level for the seating area. Or, add higher sections surrounding the dining table. This can help create more visually distinct sections for the garden as well.
8. Vary the Plant Height
Planting a bunch of big trees or shrubs on either side of a narrow garden can enclose the space and make it look smaller. Instead, space out large plants and intersperse them with smaller plants.
A variety of plant types and heights helps create a more dynamic look in narrow gardens. You can also build raised beds or use multi-tiered planters and cascading pots to define planting areas and create depth. This adds visual interest and allows you to grow a variety of plants in a compact space.
Even if you only have a narrow planting strip, introducing a small variety of plant types can make the space infinitely more interesting. Instead of feeling like the space is overcrowded, you’ll feel like you’re wandering through the secret corners of a jungle.
9. Put Up Privacy Walls
Another thing you may want to consider as part of any narrow garden idea is privacy. If your garden isn’t already enclosed by a fence, you can plant hedges or use privacy screens to make the space more secluded and cosy. Or, if you have an existing fence, consider painting it a light and airy colour to make the space appear larger. For more ideas, take a look at our article on garden screening ideas.
10. Stroll Through Greenery
Walkways are common additions to long and narrow gardens, but they can take many forms. You might choose to have visible lawn space going through the centre of the garden, a stepstone path through the flowerbeds, or a gravel path along the length of the house.
Just make sure to blend the edges of your walkways. You can do this with flower beds and ornamental grasses. Some other great plants for narrow borders include sedums and catmint. Or you could train fruit trees or shrubs to grow flat against a wall or trellis using the espalier technique. This maximises fruit production while taking up minimal space.
11. Set Up Purposeful Zones
When you have a long, narrow garden, it can be tempting to create a singular walkway down the length of the entire yard. However, if you want more visual interest and functionality, focus on creating purposeful zones instead.
Here’s how to divide a long, narrow garden without overcrowding: Create a series of unique zones by differentiating them with hard landscaping, planters, built-in seating, decking, paving, a pergola, or paths. To keep everything open, make sure you can see down the garden into each zone right when you walk in.
Some examples of zones you may want to create include a vegetable plot, an open lawn, flower beds, a comfortable seating area, a lounge area, and an outdoor cooking area. And don’t forget the corners, either. Corners often go unused, but they can be ideal spots for vertical gardens or small water features. Just choose whichever zones fit your needs for the space.
12. Combine Materials
You might be wary of mixing a lot of different materials and colours in such a small space for fear of making your thin garden a visual mess. However, a strategic mix of two or three ground materials can actually elevate the space and make it more visually appealing. For example, you could have a stone walkway leading to a wood deck, with a section of turf nearby.
13. Embrace Vertical Planters
When you have limited space for your plants in a narrow garden, you’ll need to get creative. Thankfully, vertical planters and trellises are perfect solutions. Utilise vertical space by installing trellises, wall-mounted planters, hanging baskets, and shelves.
Vertical planters help you add greenery to the space while saving valuable ground space for furniture and activities. You can plant ivy or other climbing plants up a pergola, fence or wall. Over time as the plants take hold and grow lush, you’ll create your own enchanting secret garden.
14. Add Outdoor Cooking Functionality
Bring your narrow garden ideas to life with family barbeques, dinner parties, or a casual get-together amongst friends. Not only will you be serving up delectable food options, but you’ll also get the chance to show off your narrow garden designs, much to the envy of your friends and family.
Narrowing It All Down
We hope this list of the best long garden ideas for UK homes has sparked some ideas for your own space. Limited or narrow space should never deter you from embracing your outdoor living area. Thoughtful consideration of materials, furniture, lighting, and landscaping can elevate even a seemingly restricted garden into a gorgeous sanctuary. With a little love, your narrow garden can soon become your absolute favourite place to lounge, dine, and entertain.
At Harbour Lifestyle, we’re here to help you create luxurious yet practical spaces right outside your home. We curate a wide collection of modern garden furniture and provide plenty of outdoor living space ideas to help you create a compelling garden where you’ll make lasting memories. We’ve got you covered when it comes to outdoor furniture for your narrow garden.
Just remember that any space, no matter how narrow, can blossom into a stylish garden retreat. Happy designing!