We’ll have lots of Urban Gardens to get great ideas from at the show this week. Come along to the show to pick up some inspiration for your small space or inner-city garden, with Urban Gardens by designers including Christopher Owen, Katie Burgess, Peta Donaldson, Samuel Chamberlain, Lilly van Epen and students from Yallah and Padstow TAFEs. Here, garden designer Andrew Fisher Tomlin shares his top design tips for small urban gardens.
Awkward shaped gardens
• Create a completely new layout within the garden and ignore the site boundaries and the shaping they impose,
• Plant the boundaries and around the new layout to lose any reference to the original layout
• Look for the longest dimension in the garden and exploit it
• Borrow the planting outside the garden from your neighbours to blur the boundaries
• Give all boundaries the same dark colour to simplify them
Long narrow gardens
• Exploit the long vista to exaggerate the size and scale of the garden
• Divide the garden into a series of spaces creating different themes and moods
• Use horizontals that cross the garden such as hedges and paving pattern to get a visually widen the garden.
• Move pathways and routes across the space to exaggerate distance and visual interest
• Lose the side boundaries with planting as much as possible.
Privacy and being overlooked
• It’s not everywhere so make sure you only attack the problem where it matters.
• Formal hedges are great but give everyone on both sides more maintenance
• Manmade structures like pergolas can give a sense of privacy but will create more shade
• Negotiate with your neighbour for some higher planting from trellis and climbers
• Use a mix of tree and shrub heights to blur the boundary and deflect attention from what you are screening.
Slopes and level changes
• Embrace the level changes with terracing to provide different characters in different areas.
• Try not to make too many level changes to keep costs down.
• Be careful not to raise decks and seating which overlook your neighbours.
• Use plants on slopes to create a predominantly green view from inside.
• Water on slopes can look stunning but get a professional in to help construct a water feature.
All year round interest
• When are you going to be enjoying the garden? If you’re not there some of the year you don’t need all year interest!
• Integrate plants to provide different seasonal hits such as bulbs in spring beneath autumn coloured tree foliage.
• Group plants across the garden to provide areas that peak at different times such as separate summer and winter borders.
• Use barks and stems in winter when flowers are scarce to get a different type of interest.
• Don’t be quick to cut back grasses and seed heads – let them fade when they still look good.
Top 5 designer mantras for a small garden
• Keep things simple – don’t mix too many materials, keep the layout and planting simple and stick to a single colour theme
• Plant generously to lose your boundaries and make it feel larger
• Prioritise the real needs rather than trying to pack everything in
• Organise storage in clever ways
• Plan for shade from boundaries, neighbours and planting