How to make the most of small outdoor spaces

8 June 2020

Guidance for maximising the potential of small gardens

Every property benefits from having an area of outdoor space, whether that’s a patio, garden, balcony or terrace. With some careful spatial design and considerate styling, even the smallest outdoor spaces can offer a relaxing atmosphere that is invaluable to any home, especially within built-up areas.

As a nation, we haven’t been as appreciative of our outdoor spaces, no matter how small, until the recent Covid-19 lockdown. As we were all urged to stay home for over a month, outdoor spaces at our homes were recognised much more as beneficial spaces to maintain positive health and well-being. Staying indoors can be a challenge for all of us, as being exposed to the sun and outdoor environment is a healthy and natural part of human life.

Whether the outdoor space is used to plant a collection of pot plants, alfresco dining, or a seating area to enjoy a cup of coffee in the sun, or for a bit of headspace, there are many tricks possible to bring your outdoor space to life.

Minimal framed sliding glass doors leading onto small garden in modern new build home

Landscaping design for small gardens

A common misconception when working with a small garden is that the design should be kept to a minimum, this is because many people think that a minimalistic style can make the space feel bigger - but this isn’t true. The minimalistic design actually tends to highlight the fact the outdoor space is compact.

Covering walls with plants helps to break up the edges and soften the space to result in a more inviting outdoor atmosphere. This is a smart technique to add colour and interest into a small outdoor garden, which also doubles or triples the surface area for planting. Many modern living walls can have integrated irrigation systems within the wall which keeps maintenance to a minimum.

Minimal sliding glass doors opening onto small courtyard garden

Patio doors for small outdoor spaces

Improving the access from the main living areas to small gardens means that the homeowner will enjoy their garden more, for example, if modern aluminium patio doors open onto their garden then they can experience a seamless transition between these spaces.

Aluminium bifolding doors and sliding doors from Sieger® Architektur Systems are ideal for maximising space as they can either stack to one side of the opening, or with sliding doors, they stack on one track, or pocket doors can be installed. As the doors don’t protrude onto the outdoor area (as long as the aluminium bifolding doors are inward opening) homeowners are provided with maximum use of their small gardens.

Aluminium French doors are not advised for small gardens as they may limit the plant footprint area, as the space where the doors open will be unusable.

To create the illusion of more space, there are various techniques that can be used, including infinity water features. When an infinity water feature is installed and filled to the brim, the still water can create an impressive effect. The still water acts as a mirror that will reflect the surrounding garden making the garden feel larger than it is.

Garden furniture for small outdoor spaces

Small gardens shouldn’t be frowned upon, they are actually generally better for year-round use. Small gardens are often created within walled spaces which makes them perfectly sheltered from the wind and allows the homeowners to benefit from abundant sunlight in a comfortable environment. Choosing furniture for small gardens is a decision that shouldn’t be overlooked as it is important to make this space as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

Foldable garden furniture is often a decision homeowners choose for small patios or balconies, however, they are usually designed for practicality rather than comfort. When designing a small outdoor space, you want the homeowner to feel comfortable as it is a space they will likely want to spend a large amount of time in.

IQ Furniture offer a large selection of designer outdoor furniture that has been designed with both comfort and practicality in mind, but the practical aspect of this outdoor furniture is the way in which each item of furniture has been designed to maximise space. Read IQ Furniture’s guide for choosing garden furniture for very small gardens or balconies.

Contemporary garden patio with outdoor sofa-style seating

Space-saving hacks for small balconies and terraces

Keeping the footprint of everything that is going to be included in the outdoor space to a minimum is important when landscaping these spaces. You want to strike the right balance between sophisticated design and space-saving techniques.

By creating a seamless transition between the indoor and outdoor environments you can make the small outdoor space a continuation of the indoor living space. The best way to achieve this indoor-outdoor living environment is by ensuring the threshold between these spaces is flush, this includes tracks for doors.

Anything that provides an illusion of additional space is beneficial for small gardens, but these techniques shouldn’t be overused as it will become apparent and spoil the desired aesthetic. Opening the whole aperture leading to these small outdoor spaces and installing large sliding or bifolding doors allows abundant light into the internal space which results in the illusion that the outdoor space is larger than it is. Even if the doors open onto a small Juliette balcony, this technique will make both the room feel bigger and the balcony feel bigger.

Minimal windows pocket sliding door

Speak to our exhibitors

Our exhibitors at Sky House Design Centre are well versed in providing solutions for small outdoor spaces and are available to discuss your projects with you. Simply email info@skyhousedesigncentre.com



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