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Definition of “small garden”?

Shropshire, England Eng

I’ve been looking at books and articles online, and the definition of “small” seems to vary wildly – one article called a 140-foot-long garden “small” (my garden averages just under 8 feet "long", so to me, 140 feet would be moderately huge).

Is there a generally-accepted definition of “small garden”?

I hesitate to buy “small garden” books online because of this problem – if 140 feet is “small”, then mine’s microscopic!



So you might be better looking at plants recommended for patio gardens because yours is smaller than the average small garden

23 Apr, 2011


Take a look at the RHS Really Small Gardens book, ISBN 9781844003303 you can check it out on Amazon with their 'look inside' facility and see if it has the sort of ideas you are looking for.

23 Apr, 2011


I can see where you're coming from here, i have a front and a back garden and each one is about 30' x 30' .... and i class that as small.

I've bought some books for small, town gardens and they've been useful but i've not seen any that deal with specific sized gardens.

23 Apr, 2011


The 'average' garden in the UK is around 90 sq Metres (

As a rule, I would say a garden that looks small is one that is smaller than the house associated with it - so a 500 Sq Metre house should have a garden larger than that.

Not sure what 140 Foot looks like (no in in UK learned imperial measurements in school for 50 years or so) - 23 snooker tables assuming that table is 6 ft. I think that they may be taking in the whole house plot if so, not just a back or front garden.

24 Apr, 2011


I learned imperial at school 30 years ago, Kildermorie.

And 140 feet of garden is not what i'd call small either, Franl155.

I've seen gardens that belong to small houses that are UP to 35 feet long (and roughly 20' wide) so i really don't see how anyone can even 'start' to say where the guidelines are and how they'd be measured.

24 Apr, 2011


That said Fran's garden appears to be the size of a large pocket handkerchief! We need to give her advice not discuss what size a 'very' small garden is... sorry all!

24 Apr, 2011


Perhaps courtyard gardens would be a good place to start ?

25 Apr, 2011


Good suggestion Louise

25 Apr, 2011


Thank you all!

Google says 140 feet = 42.67200 metres – longer than two cricket pitches if that helps to visualise it. I’d have settled for that “small” a garden – my dearest wish is/was to create a small-scale woodland garden, but not quite *this* small a scale

I’ve risked buying a couple of “tiny garden” books, thinking that they might be on the sort of scale I need. Over the years I’ve bought virtually the whole range of “garden expert” books – I knew I’d get a garden one day, I just sort of envisioned one tad bigger.

Thanks for the tip, Moon Grove. I saw the RHS “Really Small Gardens” on Amazon, and saved it to my favourites, but I wasn’t sure enough. I'll give it a whirl.

This patch is going to have be containers all the way: there’s a 12-18 inch – oops, 30-45cm – strip around the otherwise overall paving – there’s a layer of brick 8 inches/20cm under that, so I can’t see the point of putting “beds” in at all. It’s only my garden that has paving, the ones on each side of me are normal. Sigh.

Prob with container gardening is going to be the constant watering – I’ve bought stacks of self-watering planters and troughs, but they’ll still need to have their reservoirs topped up. And the smaller pots for baby plants will need daily watering, though I’m trying to work out a way to make gravel beds in trays to act as a reservoir for them – I cut up some face flannels for wicks, no idea how well that’ll work – if at all.

And all the watering will have to be done by hand until I get a longer hose that actually fits the kitchen tap!

The only alternative to containers is seriously high raised beds – at least I could then make the beds a bit deeper by extending them over the paving area. But then what would I do with all the planters? And I don’t know that I’m going to stay here, so I’m not willing (as yet, anyway) to put in anything that I can’t take with me if/when I move.

25 Apr, 2011


I really like container gardens - when well done they look great. I have 10 large containers/pots at one end of my garden. Have a plug of large perrenial flowers then have annuals around them. Am looking forward to summer!

25 Apr, 2011


Agree, Kildemorie - and by the same token there's nothing so sad as a neglected container!

I envisage the backbone of the display being foliage plants, with flowering ones mixed in to give seasonal colour - the different shades of foliage will give contrast in itself.

I tend to worry about overcrowding plants - even in a standard 2-foot trough I've only put 8-10 pansies. I know they'll look a lot better if they're closer, but - as with any enclosed environemnt - competition for resources adds stress, whether it's garden plants or people and I want them to be as healthy as possible.

I'm working on a tiered system, but it needs more muscle than I have, so I'll have to rope in my handyman to do the heavy stuff. but, if it works ....

12 May, 2011


I edit the GoYpedia category of "Small Garden Ideas"...

I include photos of anything which might inspire ideas for small gardens... so the photos could be of a small garden, or of one section of a larger garden, or even a picture of just one plant...

Other categories in GoYpedia might also help you, such as Sloping Garden Ideas, Design Ideas, and Feature Ideas....

Good luck with your garden :o)

12 May, 2011


Thanks Terratoonie, I've been mostly checking out the Recycle section so far, but I'll certainly give the sections you mention a thorough look. *s* so much site, so few hours in the day!

*s* started looking at the "esses" to find the pages you mentioned, and adding them to my ever-growing "Grows on You" favo[u]rites folder: then I put in a search for "ideas" and now I'm skimming through adding all the pages that might come in handy

13 May, 2011


I've finally got a fairly-accurate plan of my space, which I've posted *s* worth a thousand words of description!

Most of the surround is wire-mesh fence, which I don't think I can suspend much from; the previous tenant wired slabs of wood to the lower half for privacy' it's ugly and blocks what morning light I'd otherwise get, but is beyond me to remove at the moment (can't cut the wire ties) so I cna't grow climbers up the lower part of the fence

The under-window wall space is earmarked for wall planters, which I already have, so I'm left with a small bit of space on the end wall (next door's lounge) and a bit between back door and lounge windows for hanging baskets (which I also already have).

other prob is that there's nothing overhead - no trees or projections to hang baskets or bird feeders unless I work out a way of securing things to the fence uprights.

15 May, 2011


Try to include some Evergreen plants and Winter interest plants... so that you have all year colour....

E and W on GoYpedia :o)

Evergreen climbers ...
Evergreen shrubs ...
Evergreens ...

Winter colour plants ...
Winter container plants ...

15 May, 2011


That is definitely the smallest garden I have seen and I would think you need to be reading patio or container gardening type books. Can you fix, or have fixed, brackets to your wall for the hanging baskets?

15 May, 2011


Thanks for the suggestions, Terratoonie. I have several small conifers (most of my plants are bought at Lidl, only place where I know I can get buses home from!); I don’t know their exact name so I don’t know how tall they’ll eventually grow, but I think up to 1.5 metres would be okay, so long as they grow up more than they grow out.

I’ve also got several ivies of different kinds; don’t know which will climb and which will creep, only one way to find out.

I’ve been thinking of hebes; apart from being compact, they’re rated as butterfly-friendly, and I want to do as much as I can in the bee- and butterfly-friendliness department.

For winter colour I’ve been dreaming of dogwoods, but don’t know how much space they need; Japanese Maples would seem to be compact enough and supply variations of colour.

I’d rather a few larger plants than a lot of smaller – larger plants would be easier for me to look after (less fiddling around with stuff I can’t quite see properly). Flowers aren’t much use to me unless there are masses of them or they’re highly perfumed, so I’d prefer plant shapes and foliage colours as the mainstay.

I’ve got several roses [Lidl again] – they don’t seem to breed them for scent these days. Remember the powerful perfume of roses in the old days? Sighhhhhh.

I’ve been looking for aromatic flower and foliage plants (as I’m visually impaired I want to engage other senses as much as I can), but a lot of them seem to be a tad on the larger side, so I'll have to go for just one – it’s not as if my garden’s so big that the scent won’t carry from on end to the other! I read that Mock Orange Blossom has one of the most powerful scents, but I'll have to check up on sizes.

I’ve been raiding the BBC garden site: their “plant finder” is huge: I made lists of plants that might do, now I just need to pick out a few to try. I’m going to kill a lot of plants while I learn, which is another reason that I buy small, cheaper plants – the other is that I like to watch them grow, knowing that I did that, well, that I helped the plant to do it. more satisfying than buying a large plant that someone else grew.

15 May, 2011


Just a few more ideas ...

This GoY photo of mine from 13th Feb. might give you some ideas for plants with winter colour :-

Winter flowering heathers are nice and they bloom for a long time...

You could grow Jasminum nudiflorum up a wall which has lovely yellow flowers in winter ... you can prune it after flowering to keep it the size you want ...

The miniature lilac in one of my recent photos has a gorgeous scent... doesn't grow so fast or large as the huge lilacs...
You could plant it next to a little white clematis, as I have done... These are both smallish shrubs ...

Viburnum bodnantense Dawn has lovely scent in winter ... mine hasn't grown very quickly... so, again, a plant you could keep trimmed to shape...

The winter interest plants are best positioned so that you can see them from indoors to brighten up the cold dreary days...

15 May, 2011


Dogwoods will take up more space than you can afford. Acers, if you mean the Japanese kind, need part shade and to be out of the wind, select carefully we have some that stay low and almost look like a shrub, others we have are a good 2 metres in height with a similar sort of spread. You can prune them but not drastically.

Again you need to pick your hebe carefully they too can grow rather large.

Have you considered lavender and/or a Daphne? D cneorum or odora will both give scent throughout your garden. Our is not a small garden and the D cneorum is at the bottom of but we can still smell from the back door.

15 May, 2011


Lol Moon Grower, this garden is huge compared with those of some of the flats I was shown before this one!

And this is also the only space I have for drying washing that won’t have the airer in my way and a trip hazard. (The council won’t let me put up a plastic sheet for rain-proofing without planning permission [I checked; that’d cost £150 and they want surveyor’s drawings, which would cost £???], so I mostly have to put the airer in the shower, which means I have to synchronise showering and laundry schedules. Sigh, if I hadn’t asked them if I needed permission I’d have probably got away with it: a transparent sheet of plastic strung between hooks on wall and the fence would hardly have been obtrusive.

Just beyond the gardens is a green, with trees in, and a block of flats the other side. There’s no way into the green; there are two gates but both are heavily padlocked – I don’t see the point of giving us green space that can’t be used. (on the other side of the internal corridor there’s another green which has several access points). A couple of the flats on this green have gates, so once I’m settled in a bit, I’m going to see if I can have one too: then I'll have grass to walk on and trees to sit under … and I can casually start sort of extending my planters outwards!

I don’t have any brackets up yet, though they’re ready to go; I wanted to get the ground sorted first, then the wall planters; I might have some room between them for hanging baskets. Because of the trees, I only get direct sunlight for a couple of hours around noon, so I don't know if this would count as "semi-shade". I just hope the walls will be drillable – my handyman went though three drill bits putting up my kitchen shelves.

*s* all the photos I’ve ever seen of “small gardens” have it 100% given over to plants, pots, seats – they never show that anyone needs washing lines or composters or work tables or sheds!

So the right side of the garden is going to be my work area; as it’s outside the lounge window, maybe it should be at the other end, but the left-side space is bigger, and I can use ALL of that, rather than have that broken into – think one big space will have more impact than two little ones strung out in a line.

Besides, the lounge windowsills are only 30 cm from the ground, can’t see me getting many wall planters in there. The kitchen-bedroom windowsills are126 cm, so maybe I could double-bank the planters and still have some room for grounded ones.

My usual habit is to try to cram in as much as I can, so I’m going to have to try to exercise restraint. Yeah, as if!

The wall between lounge window and the corner is about 30cm, as is the wall behind the back door that’s not covered by the door. The end wall is 88cm, but I have to leave some space – these windows pivot in the centre, so I'll have to leave enough space for them to open without knocking anything off the wall! (I don’t know who designed these flats but I hope his guide dog bites him – I’m allowed to say that as I nearly qualify for one myself!)

15 May, 2011


thanks Terratoonie and Moon Grower

I was mostly looking for "pruning not neccessay" plants, cos the less I mess about with them the happier they're likely to be - I worry about cutting off too much and so usually don't cut off enough.

I was also looking for "slow-growing" - I don't mind it taking its time if that means it doesn't have to be cut back too often or too drastically.

Lavener, yes! love the smell; wanted to try different types to see which I got on best with.

For the others you both mention, I'm going to have to look most them up - even if I know the general plant I need to look at the varieties you mention.

thank you both again

15 May, 2011


Just keep asking questions Fran, either as an add on to this one or as a new Q, we'll do our best to help. Jonathan Hales who is a GoY member is in a wheelchair and severely disabled, you might want to look at his photos and blogs and perhaps send him a PM though I know he has a lot of problems right now.

15 May, 2011


thanks for that. I'll check his photos and blogs and maybe PM him later, but in the meantime keep my fingers crossed for him.

I'd just like to say thank you to you and to the others who've answered my q's or commented on my pics. I'm a bit overwhelmed at how friendly everyone is - the last time I posted a q on anther site I didn't get an answer for three months!

15 May, 2011


I am moe than happy to help and I am sure the other GoYer's are... we are, mostly, not professionals but we do our best :-)

15 May, 2011


I'm new on the site and I've got a REALLY small garden more than 1/2 of a terraced house backyard.I have the upper flat so part of my "garden" are 2 flight of stairs and the gantry in between them.i have posted 3 photos which gives an idea of how small an area I have to play with.The photo from the stairs shows my downstairs neighbours white wall as there is a passage way between that and my fence.I will put some more photos up soon.In a way I'm glad i don't have a large conventional garden to tend as my kooky odd shaped garden gives me more for my imagination to get into.I am going to get a lot more hanging baskets next year as I have loads of places to hang them ...the staircase railings for starters.One thing I do adore about my postage stamp garden is the fact it is so secluded I feel like I'm in my own little oasis in the middle of suburbia..I tend to get a lot of my inspiration from "courtyard" pictures as they are nearly always are smaller gardens.Hope your garden is taking shape and that you remember bigger is not always better

24 Aug, 2014


Samantha, you would be better off it you posted this as a completely new question. As it stands the only GoYer's who will see it are the ones who responded to the original post.

25 Aug, 2014

How do I say thanks?

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