13 Inspiring Small Garden Ideas to Maximise Your Space

13 Inspiring Small Garden Ideas to Maximise Your Space

If you have a small garden space, you might think your design options are limited. But don’t be discouraged! There are far more ways to decorate and furnish a small space than you might think. Truly, with a little creativity and some inspirational photos, the possibilities are endless. 

At Harbour Lifestyle, we want to help you make your outdoor space feel like you, no matter the size. Whether you have a small terrace, balcony, side garden, or tiny back garden, we’re here with unique ideas to make it stylish and personalised. 

We’ve compiled a list of 14 beautiful and modern small garden ideas below. You’ll find suggestions, including plant setups, garden furniture, landscaping, and more, to help you maximise your small space.


1. Multifunctional Furniture

 Santiago Rattan Storage Box/Console Table with Glass Top in Grey £749


A small garden requires creative furniture solutions that help you save space. Thankfully, there are tons of beautiful garden furniture pieces that have multifunctional uses.

Garden benches and ottomans with built-in compartments can double as storage for pillows, garden tools, lawn games, and other items. With a built-in firepit, the bar set above doubles as a cosy fireplace. A casual dining set can serve as a lounging sofa or transform into a dining area with an extending coffee table. 

Modular garden sofa sets can be rearranged in various ways whenever you need to open up some space. Storage bins can also serve as tabletops. Pergolas can provide shade, privacy, and water drainage for rainy days. 

Multifunctional furniture can help you make the absolute most of your limited space. With convenient storage, dining, and weather solutions at your disposal, you’ll be beckoned to spend more time outside.


2. One-of-a-Kind Planters 

Image Source: Unsplash


When you have a small space to work with, you have a prime opportunity to use unique design pieces to pack your garden with personality and charm. One way to do this is by seeking out eye-catching planters & vases for your flowers. Explore playful shapes, colours, and materials to make a statement. Select planters with mosaic tiles, geometric shapes, or hand-painted designs. 

Or, if you want an even more eclectic look, opt for unconventional items to use as planters, such as old teapots, buckets, barrels, wheelbarrows, tin cans, and vintage containers. An old bicycle with a basket can become a vessel for trailing plants, and a wooden crate or wine barrel can transform into a rustic garden pot. 

DIY upcycled projects like these are eco-friendly and can add great conversation pieces to a small garden.


3. Painted Features

Bromic Tungsten Smart-Heat™ Electric 6000W in White £1,259


Want to add some drama to your small garden space? Experiment with colour and consider painting a fence, wall, garden shed, or any other architectural element you might have available. 

You’ll need to first choose a colour scheme. Consider a palette that compliments your interior decor (perhaps the room directly adjacent to your outdoor space). Stick to one to three major colours for your small garden colour palette. 

Other ways to add splashes of colours include garden art, scatter cushions, outdoor rugs, and ottomans. 


4. String Lights


Höfats SPIN 90 Table Top Fire in Silver £109


Atmospheric and romantic lighting can make a small garden feel cosy and intimate. Consider hanging string lights over your outdoor dining set or sectional sofa. String lights on a balcony or terrace can make the space feel like a rooftop cafe. 

Or, instead of string lights, consider other outdoor lighting options. Candles and lanterns, for example, can achieve a similar, warm effect. Installing wall-mounted sconces can help save floor space and make the area look even more upscale. 

If you want to add an even more interesting lighting option, consider colour-changing LED lights. With moody LED lighting, you can wow guests and set a fun and unique tone for each get-together. 


5. Bistro Set

Quay Lounge Set In Linen £599


If you want to enjoy outdoor meals in your small garden, consider a bistro set or another small garden dining table. 

A small-scale dining set will leave ample room for the rest of your balcony or patio while offering a quaint and intimate seating for tea or a meal in the open air. For a small space, choose a dining set that seats 2 to 4 people

A 2 to 4-seat set with stackable chairs is also quite lightweight so you can keep things flexible and rearrange the dining setup whenever you need to.

Small outdoor dining sets come in a variety of styles, from traditional to contemporary, so you’ll have no trouble finding one that fits your preference.


6. Vertical Planters 

Reims Dining Set in Grey £1,999.99


Looking for ideas for a very small garden? Consider a vertical planter or living wall to introduce greenery without taking up floor space. Start a vine wall with climbing plants that will trail vertically but won’t grow out of control. Or, use trellises or wires to encourage your plants to grow upward. Put your trellises in corners to leave room for your garden dining sets or corner groups

If you don’t want climbing plants, you can install hanging baskets or mount planters on the wall. Or, repurpose a wooden pallet to create vertical storage for some of your garden pots. 

Choose hardy plants like succulents and ferns that you know will thrive in vertical planters. Explore hanging planters that come in unconventional shapes or materials like geometric glass, ceramic sculptures, or woven spheres. Hang them from pergolas, trees, or patio roofs to create a whimsical display.


7. Corner Comfort

Panama Luxury Outdoor L-Shape Corner Group Set in Charcoal £3,299


A corner sofa set provides luxuriously soft seating that will also fit snugly into a corner. That makes it an excellent solution for a small patio, deck, or balcony. Place your sofa set against a wall, fence, or hedgerow to open up the rest of the space. Make sure to get a sofa with durable-yet-comfortable, all-weather fabric. This will ensure your set will last through the seasons and hold up under both sun and rain. Then, add comfortable outdoor throw pillows, blankets, and a rug to create that cosy, outdoor living space look.


8. One or Two Shade Sources

Kratos 3m Round Wooden Parasol in Beige £99.99

Santiago Deluxe Square Rattan Corner Dining Set with Rising Firepit Table in Grey £2,599


You likely don’t need a ton of shade sources in your small garden. Instead, you’ll just need to opt for one or two reliable outdoor shade structures to keep your garden nice and cool on sweltering summer days. Here are just a few garden shade ideas to consider.

Consider a parasol or garden umbrella. Many parasols are portable and tiltable – like cantilever parasols – allowing you to easily adjust for the positioning of the sun. 

If you have the space for one, consider a luxury pergola for your shade solution. Modern, metal pergolas are sturdy shade structures that can also filter out rain and provide ambient LED lighting over your outdoor seating or dining area. Check out compact 3 x 3m pergolas for a small space. 

A sail shade or awning that attaches to a wall over your patio or balcony can also provide effective shade ideas.


9. Grass Alternatives

Palma 2 Seat Sofa Set with Wide Rope Weave and Ceramic Table in Grey £1,699

Gravel, stones, tiles and decking are great options for small gardens with no grass. Using grass alternatives like decking in a small garden can be a practical and low-maintenance option while still adding visual appeal. 

Make sure to look at different colours and styles before committing to make sure it will be comfortable to walk on and will complement your aesthetic preferences. To keep everything looking neat, install some garden beds around the deck which will help to accentuate it. Then, place garden furniture and planted pots to add visual interest, comfort, and greenery. A small rock garden is another nice, low-effort addition to a grass-free garden.


10. Garden Herb Box

Bay Large Corner Group Set with 4 Waist Pillows and Teak Table in Charcoal £3,799


A small outdoor space is a great place to plant a little herb garden. Grow useful kitchen herbs that you know you’ll use (like parsley, cilantro, and basil) in an herb box. This is also a great small garden idea for the kids, as you can easily get them involved in watering and taking care of the herb box. 

If you’re running short on ground space, create a vertical herb garden instead. Use hanging containers or a vertical trellis, as we discussed above.


11. Colourful Seating

Globo Royal Double Seater Hanging Chair Set Weatherproof in Verde Green £1,499


Using vibrant furniture is a fantastic way to inject personality and visual interest into a small garden space. Garden seating with colourful upholstery can be a great place to embrace vibrance. A statement chair or unique garden sofa set can serve as the focal point of your garden. 

To maximise the visual impact, place colourful seating near an entrance or in the middle of the space, where you can view it from multiple angles. This can set the tone for your space and transform a drab backyard into an exciting and contemporary hangout spot. 

If you’re worried about overwhelming the space with too much colour, you can offset vibrant colours with subdued shades. Rattan, wood, and rope furniture pieces are great ways to do this. Choose one or two bright-coloured pieces to attract the spotlight, and let the rest of the space breath with neutrals. 
If you’re struggling with garden seating options, why not take a look at our guide on garden seating ideas for inspiration.


12. Reflective Surfaces

Cordoba Reclining Corner Set with Ceramic Table in Grey £949


Worried about your space feeling cramped? Mirrors and other shiny, reflective materials can help create an illusion of depth and make your small garden look more expansive. 

Consider reflective decor and sleek metal surfaces, which will also achieve a modern-looking effect. Use several small mirrors or one large statement mirror to open up the space and fill some surface area on an empty wall. A minimal window mirror with panelling is homey and modern, while a gold-framed mirror is more traditional and grand. 


13. Outdoor Cooking Options

Juno 12" Pizza Oven Bundle with Gas Burner £249


Finally, just in time for those summer parties, why not consider portable outdoor cooking options in the form of pizza ovens and BBQs. 

What better way to bring family and friends together than sitting outside in the sun, sampling some of your favourite pizza toppings or, hosting a good old fashion summer BBQ


Signing off

In this article, we’ve discussed some of the best modern small garden ideas in the UK. 

If you have one takeaway, just remember this: despite the limitations, small gardens still offer worlds of possibilities. It’s completely possible to design a fabulous outdoor getaway in a small garden. 

By maximising the area, using vibrant colours, and integrating elements like vertical gardens, multifunctional furniture, and unique planters, small gardens can become havens of relaxation and joy. 

We hope these ideas will help you make the most of your limited space and transform it into a delightful extension of your home.