Designing A Dream Garden In Limited Space: A 7-Step Guide

September 13, 2023

City life has transformed how people bond with the natural world. For countless urban residents, a dream garden amidst concrete landscapes is a revitalising escape. Apartment owners, small backyard champions, and even those with just a balcony crave their personal Eden. They face challenges like constrained areas, shadows from tall buildings, and sometimes, limited knowledge.

If you have a small patch of soil or a home that you'd like to improve with more plants, you're in luck! This guide helps you merge your garden aspirations with the small space you've got.

1. Assess Your Available Space

Measuring and mapping your available space is your first step to designing your dream garden. Whether it's a compact balcony, a small yard, or just a window ledge, understanding its dimensions, shape, and character lays the foundation. Sunlight hours, soil conditions (if any), and nearby structures play a huge role in deciding what to plant and where.

For those eyeing untraditional spots, vertical gardens on walls or container gardens on rooftops are transformative. Among the recommended designs, consider a multitiered garden or adaptive railing pots to maximise your area. A limited space shouldn't limit you from expressing your gardening passion. Instead, it should challenge your creativity and resourcefulness.

2. Define Personal Gardening Goals

Gardens are as diverse as your aspirations. While many seek a calming spot to meditate, others dream of growing their own fresh basil and chilis for their culinary experiments. Once you identify your garden's primary purpose, drafting a simple sketch or making a list of what you need can bring your dream garden closer to reality. When your vision aligns with your actual space, the results are more satisfying and sustainable.

3. Pick A Theme Or Purpose

Selecting a theme is like setting your garden's compass. It influences your choice of plants, decorative elements, and your garden's overall mood. Check out these classic examples to get an idea of what you could plan for your dream garden:

  • Zen: Experience tranquillity with bamboo plants, calming water features, and harmonious symmetry.
  • Tropical: Vibrant and lush, it flaunts palms, ferns, and colourful blooms.
  • Edible: Here, utility meets beauty. Grow your own herbs, veggies, or fruits in the comfort of your home.

Your garden should be a source of joy. Decide on a theme that makes you happy to see it every day and doesn't leave a negative impact on your finances.

4. Choose Compact Plants

For tight spaces, the plant's size and growth habits matter. Small plants, when chosen correctly, can create an illusion of a larger garden. Here are some viable options you can plant in a limited space:

  • Lavender: Its purple hues and soothing aroma can set a relaxing mood.
  • Rosemary: This aromatic herb is both decorative and culinary.
  • Dwarf Japanese Maple: A compact tree with vibrant foliage, it adds depth without overwhelming your space.

Mixing different plant varieties, like ornamental plants with edibles, livens up the space. Companion planting of certain plants like marigolds and tomatoes could deter some pests and may support plant health. Consider adding more blue blooms like delphiniums and cornflowers since cool tones can give an illusion of a wider garden. With these plants, you make the most of a small area while avoiding the sense of overcrowding.

5. Incorporate Space-Saving Layouts

Crafting a layout is like solving a jigsaw puzzle: each piece should fit perfectly. The beauty lies in utilising every inch without overcrowding. Methods will depend on how small your garden space is. As a brief guide, consider these techniques:

  • Vertical Planting: Trellises or hanging pots help plants grow upwards, saving horizontal space.
  • Container Planting: Choose containers of various sizes for adaptability and aesthetics.
  • Raised Beds: Elevating the plants not only creates visual interest but also makes maintenance a breeze.

The goal is to strike the right balance between aesthetics and practicality. While experimenting with plant heights, prioritise easy access for care and appreciation.

6. Add Personal Touches

A beautiful garden often mirrors its gardener's personality. While plants form your garden's soul, your personal touches amplify its character. Whether you choose an eccentric gnome, an artistically painted pot, or straightforward garden furniture, each addition holds significant value. Wildlife enthusiasts might find contentment in adding a birdbath or a butterfly feeder, too. Your garden should ideally reflect your personality, regardless of its size.

7. Maintain And Care For Your Garden

Proper and frequent care yields a thriving garden. Water your plants regularly, but avoid overwatering. Depending on your plant choices, a mild fertiliser can boost their health. Meanwhile, pruning keeps plants in shape and lets them breathe.

Small gardens come with their set of challenges, including faster soil dehydration. So, understanding your plants' needs and spotting signs of trouble, along with being aware of your space's distinct features, is essential for maintaining a vibrant garden.


Your dream garden, irrespective of its size, can be both a visual and emotional retreat. Essentially, it boils down to knowing your space, tailoring it to your taste, and tending to your plants regularly. So, whether it's that first pot or the hundredth, utilise every available space you've got. Get started today and see your garden improve.


Urban Splatter

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