A garden designer’s tips for redesigning a small outdoor space

Lottie Delamain shares her expert tips for creating space and style in small gardens

If you happen to be a town dweller with a small garden, chances are you have looked out of the window at that long, narrow strip of land and wondered how you could improve it with a bit of clever design. It's not the easiest task as an amateur, but the joy of working with a garden designer is that they have a wealth of ideas on hand, not just about pretty planting, but about how to shape a garden to maximise the space at hand. Garden designer Lottie Delamain, who made her first appearance at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2022 with her dye garden, offers virtual consultations for owners who want some inspiration to do it themselves. Here she offers some of her designs as examples of how a small garden can be transformed with a little DIY and elbow grease.

Create garden ‘rooms’ with horizontal planting

This garden was designed for a family who like to use their garden for relaxing, drinking their coffee in the mornings and dinner in the evenings, and they wanted it to look lovely from the house. People are often scared of dividing up this kind of space, worrying that they will make it look smaller. On the contrary, creating blocks or screens of horizontal planting gives a sense of journey and a bit of intrigue and makes the viewer wonder what’s at the other end. These horizontal blocks of hedging have the effect of creating separate ‘rooms’ to cater to where the sun is at any given point of the day and zones for different activities.

Use fencing to hide unsightly objects

If you have kids’ toys or barbecues that need to be kept in the garden but aren’t particularly lovely to look at, this is a great ideas to hide them. These fences are staggered at different points a metre or two from the end of the garden, and they screen the ugly stuff that this family had at the bottom of the garden. What’s great about these fences is that you can grow plants up them if you like, and you can buy fencing at any price point, whether you want lovely oak or cedar, or cheaper woods that you can paint in a tasteful colour. The fences are at different depths to give a sense of interest and draw the eye down the garden.

Buy meadow turf for a country feel in the city

Like lots of people at the moment, the owner of this garden wanted a garden studio now that she is working from home. However to reduce the visual impact for her neighbours, we needed to the studio feel bedded in to the garden. Our solution was to lay meadow turf on the roof, which you can buy pre-sown with the perfect variety of meadow species. It’s great for encouraging birds, bees and wildlife. and just needs cutting back once a year. It can be used on roofs, instead of a lawn or even a slither in a large planter, for a slice of the countryside in the city.

Find out more about Lottie's work at lottiedelamain.com