Planting ideas for small gardens

April 21, 2020
Planting Ideas For Small

Nandina domesticaNandina domestica makes a great evergreen for a sunny garden. Photograph: blickwinkel/Alamy

Small gardens need bulk to be successful. The most impressive schemes are those that pare a planting scheme down to the bare minimum. It never fails to surprise me how much impact can be created with just a few species. A planting scheme should always allow for seasonal interest as well as evergreen foliage and ephemeral colour in the summer. The best way I find to pull a scheme together is to think about the following questions in this order:

What has to be hidden?

Sarcococca confusa. Photograph: MBP-Plants/Alamy

For masking ugly buildings, sheds, railway lines and lampposts, think evergreens. They play a vital role in holding a planting scheme together and are hugely beneficial when there are ugly views to hide. Many work as well in containers as they do in the ground, given the right soil.

Evergreens for sunny gardens
• Pittosporum tenuifolium or Pittosporum tobira (sheltered gardens only).
Olea europaea
• Nandina domestica
• Laurus nobilis
• Dicksonia antarctica
• Climbers Clematis armandii, Clematis flammula and Lonicera henryi all have interesting leaves as well as flowers and their rampant growth will mask a wall or fence in no time.

Sarcococca confusaEvergreens for shade
Fatsia japonica
• Sarcococca confusa
• Euonymus fortunei 'Silver Queen' will support itself quite happily up a wall or fence.
• Camellias, rhododendrons and in partial shade Drimys winteri is also lovely but will require some shelter.

Where do I want seasonal interest?

If hellebores are planted for winter colour will I be able to see them from the house? Should they be sited where they will not interfere with summer colour or can their leaves be incorporated into a summer scheme? Will I be able to detect the scent of a sarcococca from the far corner of the garden or should I plant it closer to a door or window?

Smaller plants for sunny gardens
Lavandula 'Hidcote' is well behaved as are the smaller hebe and parahebe; grasses can add texture to small garden schemes so if you're lucky enough to have some sunny spots in the garden, Stipa tenuissima and calamagrostis are worth considering, although the stipa can be a little generous with its seeds and if you don't like weeding then it's not the plant for you.

Some of the smaller perennials are also good when planted en masse. Salvia x superba, Verbena rigida and all manner of heuchera varieties will combine together to give a show that lasts for weeks and weeks. Summer flowering clematis, both herbaceous and climbing can also be used. Clematis x eriostemon is particularly wonderful and will trail itself over bulky evergreen shrubs to liven them up in the summer.

Geranium phaeum: a great plant for shady small gardens. Photograph: FLPA /Alamy

Smaller plants for shady gardens
• Epimediums (any, I haven't found a duff one amongst them yet and I have planted a fair few in my time)
• Asplenium scolopendrium
• Hosta 'Halcyon'
• Geranium phaeum
• Dryopteris erythrosora
• Liriope muscari
• Pulmonaria 'Cotton Cool'
• Helleborus niger
• Hydrangea petiolaris

Can I make it work with fewer plants?

Will less variety give a better impact? Inevitably the answer is yes: I will rework a scheme until I have the right balance of evergreen coverage, seasonal colour and a time plan that works for my client. Spend time planning your garden on paper, research the plants you want to use, know what conditions they require and how much care they will take. Pare the scheme down until you are happy that you have just enough - any gardener will tell you it is always easy to add more!


Landscaping Tips

Though your home is your castle, there is no necessity to surround it with a moat. Here are 5 tips that will help you to make your landscaping feel more warm, welcoming and cozy.

1. Put some flowers nearby your entrance. Flowers make any area look more welcoming and attractive, so greeting your guests with Petunia, Snapdragon, Lily-of-the-Nile or some other garden flowers is always a great thing to do. What is more, to add some space between your house and the entrance, you can consider adding a little white fence. It will create an illusion that your front yard is bigger than it actually is. What is more, adding fence will create a great space for planting flowers to add some color and coziness.

2. Add rambling vines to make your yard look absolutely lovely. You can not deny that rambling vines always create romantic and even magical atmosphere. So why not to use this tip while decorating your yard?

3. To hide the unattractive driveway, consider adding some color, texture, and height. You can easily do it by adding various sorts of flowers. To start, create an island of green lawn right in the hub of a drive. Then add a couple of low boxwood hedges with flowers toward the back of your island.

4. If you want your yard to blossom and flourish bust still do not have enough time to maintain it, consider planting low-fuss lilies. Such flowers look absolutely gorgeous and come in the variety of rainbow hues, so you can pick the one you love most. What is more, low-fuss lilies do not care about the sort of soil, they love the sun and welcome hot, they do not afraid of drought. In other words, Crinums is an ideal flower for all those who are looking for low-maintenance solutions.

5. The last tip also touches the low-maintenance aspect. To make your life easier, group plantings into beds and islands. This will help you to avoid mowing and trimming around each individual plant, save a lot of time and even money.

Share this Post