Making the most of small spaces

2nd February 2017

My experience of building tiny gardens at RHS Chelsea Flower Show has proved to me that size is not important! A lot can be done with a 10 x 5m space.

Here are some prime examples where space was a premium, yet with some intelligent planning and design, magnificent results were achieved.

RHS Chelsea Flower show – 2013

RHS Chelsea Flower show – 2014


In 2013, my first year designing for David Harber, we included pools, a shelter and planting beds, as well as 14 sculptures.

In 2014 we added changes in levels, clipped hedges, plain lawn and three different planting styles.

In 2015 we created a shaded glen with 9 trees! So there is no excuse for size.


This can often create a feeling of more space. Despite the fact that it divides up the garden it can help give each space a role, which is especially useful for children, or for creating a cosy dining space. Sunken seating is a lovely feature, as is an outdoor fireplace.

Large overhangs look dynamic and can be under-lit for maximum effect. I used these huge 1m x 1m pavers in my garden for Schellevis,, at Chelsea in 2016, linking the gravel garden to a covered raised terrace.


Privacy is always a problem in our crowded urban environment. Horizontal screening is very popular, but evergreen trees and ivy panels can also be very useful, as are pleached trees. (Trunks are stripped to about 1.8m and then the tree is trained onto a panel usually about 1.5m wide and 1m high).

We used both in this lovely new garden I did in Chiswick. The ivy panels were especially useful as they attached to existing fence posts, but were not bulky and did not take up too much room in the narrow space.

So, do not despair if your new build garden is empty, it’s a blank canvas so the world is your oyster!