17 smart ideas for small gardens and tiny terraces

small garden ideas
17 design ideas for tiny gardens and terracesLizzie Orme, Colours of Arley, Laura Jackson

Aside from the plants, trees and flowers that fall under general landscaping, there are plenty of decorative ways to enhance even the tiniest of outdoor spaces.

Balconies do well illuminated with hanging lanterns and dressed with comfy outdoor cushions and rugs, tiny wooden decks can zone a small garden without robbing you of much space and integrated corner seating has an equally modest footprint. When looking at outdoor dining and entertaining, round bistro tables are great space savers, and chimeneas can replace larger fire pits for warmth.

Read on for 17 design tips to make the most of a tiny outdoor space...

Sun loungers

For comfortable lounging on small balconies or terraces, try floor cushions or a pillow lounger that you might ordinarily reserve for trips to the beach. This one comes from the ever-covetable Business & Pleasure Co. and has a matching pouf that can serve as a side table in a pinch.

Pictured: Outdoor Reclining Pillow Lounger at Business & Pleasure Co.

small garden ideas sunlounger
Business & Pleasure Co.

Undeveloped spots

Embrace every inch of the outdoors. Alexandra Steadman documented the transformation of an uninspiring return at the side of her home into an alfresco spot for entertaining. We love her use of floor tiles – far more stylish than concrete slabs – that delineate and frame the dining area.

small garden ideas alexandra stedman garden
Alexandra Stedman

Bistro tables

Round tables are great space savers, and even better if they can introduce some interesting lines or motifs to a small garden. This Oliver Bonas set is a great example, with design cues from classic bistro tables in the eye-catching curved frame and cheerful monochrome pattern.

Pictured: Bistro Black & White Rattan Set at Oliver Bonas

small garden ideas bistro set
Oliver Bonas

Outdoor tablescaping

Low on space should not mean short on decoration – quite the contrary if you lack the naturally decorative aspect of plants and flowers – so dress what you do have with abundance. An outdoor table can be piled with crockery, candles, napkins and a tablecloth to create a charming if compact spot for guests.

Pictured: Tableware at Glassette

small garden tablescape by glassette
Courtesy of Laura Jackson


A chimenea is the best way to heat a small garden where a fire pit is too large. And always be on the lookout for integrated features when space is of a premium – this one has an added grill on top for some light BBQing.

Pictured: Steel Chimenea with Grill at Dobbies Garden Centre

small garden ideas chimenea
Dobbies Garden Centre

Neat planters

If you want to display plants or flowers without them overwhelming, pop them on a plant stand – a simple wooden step ladder would work too – to create a little pocket of colour and aroma.

Pictured: Wood Ladder Planter at Habitat

small garden ideas plant display ladder

LED lighting

Lean into the cosiness and romanticism of a modest garden with soft mood lighting. LED candles can group on top of bistro tables or stand in handsome hurricane lamps or lanterns on the floor.

Pictured: Black Storm Battery Lantern at Lights4fun

small garden ideas led candles and storm lantern at lights4fun
Oliver Perrott

Outdoor rug

Balconies and terraces that don’t have any grass will benefit from the softening effect of an outdoor rug underfoot. These need to be robustly weather-proof and easily washable, and a dense pattern will always be a bit more forgiving on stains or dirt.

Pictured: House Beautiful Ashanti Outdoor Rug in Duck Egg at Carpetright

small garden ideas outdoor rug


You might not have room for the full and frothy trees, potted plants or grand dining sets that provide colour and exuberance to larger gardens, so choose statement pieces wherever you can. Parasols take up a negligible amount of floor space but can add a flourish of decoration.

Pictured: Sallie Round Bamboo Parasol at East London Parasol Co.

small garden decorating ideas parasol
East London Parasol Co

Deck chairs

Fold-away deck chairs are a lifeline for the tiniest spots. This retro checkered design is another great choice from Business & Pleasure Co., and they can be stored away or hung on a hook on an outside wall when not in use.

Pictured: Tommy Deck Chair at Business & Pleasure Co.

small garden ideas deck chairs
Business & Pleasure Co.

L-shaped sofa

L-shaped sofas are used in living rooms to provide maximum seating for minimal footprint, and the same principle can be applied to a small garden. These can be tucked into a corner, right at the boundaries of your garden to accommodate four or five people.

Pictured: Anbarasi Wooden Modular Sofa at Nkuku

small garden ideas l shaped garden sofa

Integrated seating

Much like the L-shaped sofa, integrated seating is a tried and tested space-saving trick. The real star of the show in the garden of @jessalaviellis is the Colours of Arley striped fabric – introducing bold geometric pattern into a lush space makes for a striking contrast – and the bolsters are a great choice for seating with a low back. We love the framing effect of the trellis too.

Pictured: Garden seating upholstered in Northern Quarter and Peak by Colours of Arley

small garden ideas integrated seating
Colours of Arley

Hanging lanterns

To complement your LED candles and keep floor space clear, hang paper lanterns from trees or trellises, wrap string lights around balconies or suspend your larger festoon lights on Shepherds hooks.

Pictured: Lucena Cream Tassel Solar Lantern at Lights4fun

small garden ideas hanging lights
Oliver Perrott

Citrus plants

Be selective with the plants you use – while lovely in large gardens, plants that grow rapidly and to great heights will encroach upon useable space. Citrus plants are a better pick because they are moderately sized, do well in planters and provide a dose of colour and scent.

Pictured: Lemon tree at Dobbies Garden Centre

small garden ideas citrus plant
Dobbies Garden Centre


If you want to zone your small space for eating, lounging or working, take your landscaping cues from this clever curved deck that creates an elevated spot for outdoor dining. It's an unobtrusive way to divide even the tiniest of gardens.

corner deck for small garden
Lizzie Orme

Chairs for lounging

If you only have room for chairs rather than a larger sun lounger in your small garden, aim for one that is slightly wider than average for better comfort. This mint green striped version from Raj Tent Club is armless to encourage lounging.

Pictured: Palm Springs Chair at Raj Tent Club

small gardens ideas wide seat chair
George Selley

Compact shed

You can find great compact sheds on the high street that could be used for storage or turned into an outdoor spot for working or reading. Sheds are often painted to blend into their surroundings, but there is a case for employing cheerful colour to turn your humble shed into a design feature.

Pictured: Shed painted in Juniper Ash at Little Greene

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small garden ideas painted shed by little greene
Little Greene

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