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Six easy steps to creating the perfect outdoor space

HAVEN: Adding different levels to your garden can help give you more enjoyment from your garden

YOUR HOME is stylish, inviting and together, but your garden is small, boxy and just plain boring! Sound familiar?

You’re not alone, as many people can struggle to create a garden that matches up to the rest of their home. With the arrival of spring, you want an outdoor space that you can relax in, socialise in and enjoy.

Even a small garden has huge potential as an area for entertaining and chilling – it’s all in the planning. Here are my six easy steps to transforming your back garden…

Landscape expert Reuben Abtar

1. Plan the layout.
A good place to start is to think about your vision for your garden. If you’re short on inspiration visit some decent local gardens and get some ideas. No, you’re not going to be able to recreate Kew Gardens in your backyard, but visiting places like Kew helps you start thinking about the garden features, plants and colours you’d like for your garden.

Check out Pinterest and save the ideas you like. From here, you can develop a plan for the layout.

GARDEN IN NEED: How things looked before the fresh design

This is a crucial stage and needs to be carefully thought through. Resist the temptation to just throw in everything you like (this isn’t a Royal Botanic Gardens after all!), but select just a few key features that are going to give your garden the wow factor.

2. Go dual purpose.
As much as I want gardens to look good, they’ve also got to be practical for you and in a small garden this is even more relevant. Consider how you plan to use the space and the practical elements you need in your garden, like an area for recycling, bike storage or garden equipment.

Think about investing in items that have a dual purpose, like built-in seating areas with benches that open up to be used for storing your gardening gear, raised vegetable gardens with recycling space underneath or a patio area with built in flower beds or hidden bike storage. There are so many ways to make your small garden both practical and easy on the eye.

3. Divide your garden space.

Most small gardens are just a rectangular patch with nothing to draw the eye or create interest. The key to making small gardens appealing comes in dividing the space.

Now I don’t mean splitting it down the middle with one half for you and one for the kids, but in taking that bland rectangle and making it come to life with different areas. Maybe a patio area, planting sections, pathways – all work together to build up interest in your small garden.

TRANSFORMATION: Before landscape expert Reuben Abtar worked his magic...


4. Match landscaping materials.
One mistake that keen gardeners can often make when trying to update their small gardens is in the landscaping materials. In a larger space you can get away with mixing up your materials, but a small garden will benefit more from using the same materials. So, if you have a sandstone patio, then it will create a bigger feel if you also have sandstone borders. Techniques like this will help to give your small garden the illusion of space as well as cohesion.

5. Use bright colours.
You might love really dark colours, but they won’t do your small garden any favours! Dark colours tend to absorb the light, while bright colours reflect the light, giving a bigger feel.

Even a tiny back garden can be transformed with some well chosen bright colour.

Think about painting the shed in a bright colour or add some colour in your planting.

Just be careful not to go overboard. One or two bright colours is all you need to lift the space and inject some life and vibrancy!

PATIO: Before Reuben's redesign...


6. Change the levels.
People often think that the best way to maximise space in a small garden is with one continuous flat level.

This is probably true if you use your garden to run laps in! But for most people, you can get more enjoyment from your garden and make it look bigger by changing the levels.

Think about adding raised beds, a built up deck with a couple of levels, a raised patio, even steps and stacked planters.

You’ll be surprised by how much bigger your small garden will actually look by giving the eye more to look at.

Reuben Abtar, owner of Distinctly Different Landscapes, offers a full landscape and garden maintenance service for residential gardens and commercial premises across London and Surrey. For further information please contact 07949 768344.

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