Often having a small garden feels like there's no room for anything as luxurious as a gorgeous, bright, bushy plant. It can get overwhelming, and you feel left with a boring, unexciting garden- but that doesn't have to be the case.
No matter how big or small your garden is, there's always possibilities for fitting in a plant or two. Whether that involves putting a small shrub into a pot on your balcony, or filling in those two small front garden borders, shrubs are the ideal plants when it comes to planting in smaller conditions.
Generally, we recommend low-growing shrubs or climbers for this sort of situation. Low-growing shrubs are ideal for growing in containers, or planting in small areas, whereas climbers are the perfect plant species for adding a beautiful feature to your garden without needing any extra space!
That being said, we've put together our top recommendations for turning your mini, bare, lifeless garden into something as beautiful as any other!
If you're looking for something to add year-round colour and interest, evergreens are the perfect choice. The stunning green foliage will create a great screen of foliage up against a wall or fence- here are some of our evergreen recommendations for smaller gardens:
Perfect shrub for creating colour and texture, with its fuzzy leaves and bright yellow, summer flowers. It's just the way to spruce up that garden of yours, and give it year round colour!
If you're looking for a wide-spreading shrub to fill in that empty border, this is the one for you- it has tonnes of colour and interest, with it's gorgeous, variegated leaves and bright colours, so will surely keep that border looking bright all year-round.
All the colour...
As much as evergreen shrubs are loved and adored for their year-round greenness, those with smaller gardens will often dream of having beautiful, bright, attractive shades of colour, too, outside of green- whether that's coming from flowers or not.
That being said, these next four, stunning shrubs will provide the perfect amount of vibrancy to your small garden, with their vividly coloured flowers or interestingly shaded leaves, we promise they'll add that bit of extra brightness!
Photinia is a beautiful evergreen hedge that showcases glossy, bright red leaves in the Spring and Summer seasons, and often continue to look this bright throughout Winter, too. Best yet, wildlife are attracted to the Photinia for its flowers are red berries that burst through in Autumn/Winter. It's the perfect, low-growing, colourful hedge.
Barberry Rose Glow is a lovely, deciduous, compact hedge with gorgeous variegation colours of cream, purple, and pink, making it ideal for ornamental purposes- the foliage will turn shades of red before dropping off in the Autumn.
During Spring, the small, yellow flowers will turn into bright red berries during Autumn, too, which are always a welcomed treat by the birds!
Yellow Potentilla is a deciduous, hardy hedge with a long flowering period that boasts little, sunny-yellow flowers right from June through to October. The five-petalled, saucer-like flowers which sit nicely amongst the bright green foliage will surely brighten up your little garden- it's ideal for welcoming bees to the garden, too!
Compact Laurel is a hardy evergreen plant, which is popular amongst gardeners for its dense, lush, deep green, narrowly-shaped foliage with an upright growing habit. The lovely cotton-white, Spring flowers appear on spikes with a deep, fragrant scent, following with cherry-like berries in the Autumn- it really is a unique specimen that's ideal for adding a bit of extra colour and interest to your garden!
A touch of fragrance...
If you have a little seating area on your balcony or small outdoor space, having a touch of fragrance is always a wonderful addition- who doesn't like a gorgeous, flowery waft drifting over their way as they sit on their garden chair, reading their favourite book in the warm, afternoon sun?
Here are our top 4 favourite scented shrubs for sprucing up your small garden:
The Hidcote Lavender plant is perfect for any UK garden, giving you that 'old-fashion English garden look.' Hidcote is a pleasant variety of English Lavender, but the key feature is the dark purple, elegant flower spikes which give off a lovely deep fragrance. It's slightly more compact than English Lavender, too, and it's evergreen nature makes it perfect for year-round interest.
Wonderfully fragrant and evergreen, Rosemary can sit as a stunning shrub or low hedge. It's known to be a culinary herb, making it perfect for kitchen gardens or bordering your paths. Rosemary will provide year-round interest with its deep, evergreen leaves, purple flowers, and distinct, stunning scent.
Russian Sage is a deciduous perennial plant which produces clusters of little, purple-blue flowers that cling onto thin, white stems. The distinctly coloured, grey-green leaves have a gorgeous, herby scent too. The flowers stay fresh for weeks, from the middle of Summer through to Autumn, making it quite a tough little plant- it's resistant to heat, poor soils, drought, and pests!
With it's lush, elegant, delicate-looking nature, Russian Sage is the ideal fragrant shrub for your small outdoor space.
As much as we all love wonderful colours and scents, texture is something else to consider when it comes to choosing your shrub based garden. Not many people know that having mixed textures is a key trick to creating the perfect garden- it's the secret hack to providing wonderful, different level of interest (which is something we all want in our outdoor spaces!).
That being said, here are our 4 favourite textural based, low-growing shrubs:
Carex 'Evergold' is a striking, small, ornamental grass variety that forms low bunches of stunningly dark, evergreen leaves with strips of yellow running down the middle. It tends to grow brown flower spikes on long stems from the middle of Spring, too, adding that extra bit of textural interest!
It's quick-growing and will easily reach its ultimate height of 30cm in minimal time, all whilst being very low-maintenance.
Red Hook Sedge is an evergreen, fountain-like grass type which boasts glossy, red-green/red-brown leaves, along with dark brown or black flower points during Summer. It originates for NZ, and is a popular, small, ornamental grass which can create a stunning contrast against other grasses like Carex 'Evergold.'
With its deep, interesting colours, Red Hook Sedge will add the ideal amount of texture and interest to your outdoor space.
Deschampsia forms direct, dark-green, wispy, thin leaves that grow to about 60cm high. The leaves are placed on unique, arching stems which produce feathery, silver-purple coloured flowers that hang as long panicles.
It's an ideal, uniquely textured shrub for any small garden, and can look fantastic when placed against other stunning grasses like Carex 'Evergold' and Red Hook Sedge.
Japanese Quince 'Pink Lady' boasts gorgeous, cup-shaped, bright pink flowers in March-May, which are then followed with bright green, fragrant fruits that turn yellow when ripe- all of which compliment the glossy-green, obovate leaves perfectly.
With its stunning colours and berries, and woody stems, it creates a welcomed bit of interesting texture.
That's our recommended four KEY "ingredients" when it comes to creating and decorating your small outdoor space. Simple, right? Choosing your shrubs doesn't have to be difficult- just pick four (one from each section), and place into your pathway border or balcony containers, and voila...you have a stunning, interesting, colourful outdoor space!