Flowers in small garden

Small gardens

Big ideas can turn a small garden into a mighty space for organic growing. Think outside the box to overcome tight corners and shading from other buildings.
As well as providing food for you, these tiny growing spaces can offer valuable micro-climates and havens for wildlife, creating corridors of green in built-up areas.
Hanging basket
An edible hanging basket can include strawberries, chives, tumbling tomatoes, and cut and come again lettuce.

Grow in three dimensions

Growing in a small garden is all about maximising space. Gaps in paving can be used to grow low-growing herbs such as thyme, wall crevices can be planted with ferns, and sedums will love a shed roof.

Utilising vertical growing spaces with hanging planters, guttering or climbers will not only give you more growing space, but lead the eye skyward. It will also soften and disguise boundaries and create the illusion of space.

Space for wildlife

Differing levels of diverse vegetation will attract wildlife - even in the tiniest of spaces. If you provide food, shelter and breeding sites, the insects, birds and mammals will come.

Climbers are a great place to start. Passionflower, honeysuckle and jasmine provide shelter and nectar for birds and pollinators, while evergreens such as ivy support overwintering wildlife. Small trees such as Amelanchier, Cornus or hawthorn are also a valuable habitat. And you can even grow fruit trees in pots. Choose dwarf rootstocks and grow in as large a pot as you can.

A mini pond will bring movement and light, while being a beneficial water source for birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects. Adding ledges and gravel or small stones in strategic positions will help insects and frogs get in and out.

Four take outs from our 'Small Spaces - Big Ideas' garden

Our gold award-winning, 5x5m, BBC Gardeners' World Live show garden demonstrated how productive and biodiverse a garden can be - regardless of its size. Here’s 4 ideas to bring into your own tiny space…

Gutter garden

Use old guttering to create a wall display containing herbs and flowers. Simply cut the guttering to the required length, attach it to your wall, fill with compost and plant away.

Hanging basket bug hotel

Fill two metal hanging basket frames with an assortment of bits and pieces in which bugs can shelter. This can include pinecones, straw, terracotta crocks, cardboard, bamboo and twigs. Then tie the frames together.

Edible hanging basket

Choose a basket with open sides or planting pockets and line with sustainably sourced moss. Build the basket with alternating layers of peat-free potting compost and plants, some laid flat through the holes. Add a few organic comfrey pellets for slow-release food. Great plants to include are strawberries, chives, tumbling tomatoes, and cut and come again lettuce.

1m x 1m bed

Use second hand scaffold boards or railway sleepers to create a square bed frame. Section off with a grid of canes or twigs and sow a different veg into each square. You’ll be amazed at what you can grow in such a small space.

1-metre veg growing bed
In a 1m x 1m bed you can create sections using a grid of canes or twigs and sow different vegetables or herbs into each square.