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Adding value to your home and workspace



What do you do when your mind is running wild with ideas and and yet you have such a small space? It is easy to despair especially if you have been to expansive gardens set on grand lofty designs.

Either by design or necessity, many people nowadays have relatively small gardens. A small garden can still be interesting and dramatic. Through application of common sense, artistic flair and fruitful design tricks, your garden can be turned into a small chic haven.

Formal garden

For small garden you are better off opting for the formal design style. This is where plants and beds are laid out in geometric patterns; rectangles, circles, pyramids and squares. It differs from the informal gardens used mostly in large gardens –whereby the design and planting are irregular and is characterized by flowing curves and arcs.

As you get down to work, keep the basic plan simple without compromising style, interest and variety.

Simple design

First stick to a few choice plants that you may use repeatedly in different parts of the garden to create unity. Since space is limited, use of a wide variety of plants could result in a fruit salad effect (a jumbled mix). Knowledge of growth habits is important because trees like Bombax (Chorisia speciosa) could outgrow space allocated to them when they mature. Since the style of the garden set up is formal, it is advisable that the plants and trees (which act as ceilings in a garden) should be able to grow or shaped in a formal style.

Thus the plant shapes in the garden should end up either as upright, rounded, columnar, circular or pyramidal. Good candidates here are hibiscus, bougainvillea, Italian cypress, durantas, araucaria, brunfelsia and thujas among others.

Plant texture

Plants with oval leaves have fine texture and make your garden appear larger. On the contrary, bold, shiny and large leafed plants tend to fill up space so they are best avoided in cramped spaces. Texture goes hand in hand with flower and foliage colour. Cool colours (blue, green, purple), like fine textures, tend to recede-giving an illusion of space. They are therefore perfect for a small garden. Use plants with bright colours at the front of the beds and taper off with soft colours at the back of the beds. Alternatively, use warm colours adjacent to the house. This serves to visually decongest the garden. To create a focal point (which is a must in any garden), you can opt for a small water feature, a beautiful carving, or an exciting lone plant in a pot. A focal point need not be anything serious. Even a potted plant on a pile of natural rocks can be an outstanding accent which will attract attention and prevent a small garden from being eyed in one sweep.

Space savers

Screens made of lattice or metal /wire mesh can be used to create impressions of backyards (where there might be none), hide utilities (like dustbins) and mark boundaries by serving as a wall. They also increase privacy. Screens, like winding paths in a large garden have the effect of ‘stalling the eye’. Thus the garden is not seized up in one flash, but rather has to be explored gradually.

You can also do vertical gardening to add space to your garden. Walls, fences,trees and trellises provide more space for expanding your green areas.


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