Plant ideas for small gardens

Wondering how to design a small garden? Check out our top tips for planting in a small space

Worm that Turned loft urban green wall rack

Your garden may be small, but this shouldn’t stop you from thinking big when it comes to growing. Here we have broken down our top planting ideas for small gardens, patio gardens, balcony gardens and even windowsill gardens! With the right pots in the right positions, your garden space will soon be awash with colour and texture.

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If you’re new to gardening, cultivating your outdoor space can seem daunting at first, as even the smallest gardens require a bit of effort and know-how to keep up appearances. However, their changing nature can be really liberating – gardens don’t need to look perfect! So, while you might not get it right the first time, you’ll feel extra proud when those first buds start to bloom and with these garden planter ideas, you’ll soon be on the right track to designing a small garden.

Cultivating your garden for the first time? Be sure to check out our guide to gardening for beginners and six ways to get your garden ready for summer.

Super small garden ideas

Wall planters

Carlo Wood Wall Planter, £134.99, Wayfair

Carlo Wood Wall Planter, Wayfair

If your garden is short on floor space, use walls and height, through wall frames and shelving, to add greenery. A wall rack is especially handy if your garden is surrounded by lacklustre exterior walls. You’ll be able to fill the rack with a variety of planters, creating a ‘living wall’ effect – a much more pleasant sight!

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Elho Loft Urban Green Wall Rack, £20, Amazon

Worm that Turned loft urban green wall rack
Grow both herbs and plants from this wall frame. For a similar trolley, try the RÅSKOG, £39, IKEA

Let your plants and herbs take centre stage with this customisable plant wall rack. You can easily move pots around and chop and change your display when you fancy a different look.

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Planting idea

The climbing hydrangea is a wonderful statement plant for smaller, shady gardens. It grows upwards with supports and provides lovely white blooms from late spring and summer, changing to warm golden leaves in autumn. Before you start planting in a small garden, it’s always worth checking the full height and spread of the plant, so you can make sure they’ll be in the right space to grow fully. 

Climbing hydrangea, 2-litre pot, £27.99, Crocus

Climbing hydrangea, Crocus

Hanging planters

Elements hanging basket, £12, Dunelm

Dunelm garden planters
Gold wire semi hanging basket, £12; Gold wire round hanging basket, £12; Elements orange hanging basket, £12; Teal metal wall planter, £12; Black hexagonal wall planter, £15; Elements vete teal planter, £10; Gold round hanging planter, £10; Elements white or ochre planter on wire frame, each £16; Fibre clay ribbed pots, small, £12; Fibre clay ribbed pots, large, £16, all Dunelm

With a small garden, we have to think of new, creative ways of utilising space. Why not make a great first impression by using space-saving hanging planters by your front door (or back door!)? You’ll get to enjoy a burst of colour each time you walk in and out of your home!

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Garden shelves

HYLLIS Shelving Unit, £10, IKEA

IKEA shelves

A simple garden shelving unit like this one from IKEA will sit snugly in a small space or even a balcony. It’s roomy and sturdy enough to let you store all your gardening essentials in one place, thus freeing up the rest of your garden for other activities. Pop heavy pots at the bottom, hide general bits and bobs behind trailing plants at the top and grow herbs in the middle for easy access when cooking.

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Planting idea

Salad leaves are a great seed to try sowing if this is your first foray into vegetable planting. They are super easy to grow, don’t require a lot of space, will provide a crop for months, and will taste much better than the stuff you buy from the supermarket. 

Salad Leaves ‘Cut ‘n’ Come Again’ Kew Collection Seeds, £2.69 for 1 packet of 250 seeds, Thompson & Morgan

Salad Leaves 'Cut 'n' Come Again'- Kew Collection Seeds, Thompson & Morgan

Acacia Wood 5 Tier Black Planter Ladder, £60, Dunelm

Acacia Wood 5 Tier Black Planter Ladder, £60, Dunelm

For an even more space-saving shelf, try this tiered planter ladder from Dunelm. The black colour makes a striking backdrop for luscious plants, flowers and succulents. It will take up hardly any floor space so would well well for a balcony garden too. Position smaller plants on top and larger plants on the bottom for a satisfying display.

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Multi-purpose planters

Beepot bee hotel, £36.99, Crocus

Beepot Bee House and Garden Planter By Green And Blue

Create a buzz in your small garden! Pollinators, like bees, are in decline but you can help them by creating a welcoming habitat in your garden. This innovative, two-in-one Beepot bee house and garden planter is a great way to start.

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Rissington Self-Watering Wheeled Planter, £99.95, Scotts of Stowe

Rissington Self-Watering Wheeled Planter, Scotts of Stowe

This garden planter is at the pricier end of the scale, but we think it’s worth it. It has an in-built watering system which means you can leave your plant for days without worrying it will dry out. It also has wheels so you can easily move the planter around, handy for a balcony garden, or a small patio garden. Once you’re happy with your position, the wheels lock into place to keep the planter secure and sturdy. It’s UV resistant too, win, win! A worthwhile investment for beginner gardeners with a small outdoor space.

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Balcony garden

Tall Black Metal Trellis Planter, £70, Dunelm

Elements Tall Black Metal Trellis Planter, Dunelm

There are many benefits to a balcony garden. The limited space allows you to be more creative with your design, and the smaller size will mean less gardening upkeep, and more time dedicated to enjoying your growing successes. Shelving and hanging planters will free up floor space; a ladder could be used to stack plants at varying heights, and covering your railings with clip-on pots filled with trailing plants will create a striking green-wall effect. Growing veg is also on the cards.

This multi-purpose planter from Dunelm is suitable for a range of growing projects. The hanging pots can be filled with herbs or succulents, the middle planter can be filled to brimming with trailing plants or veg, while the bottom shelf could hold garden tools or bigger pots.

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Set of Two Ivory White Hanging Balcony Planters, £24.99, Garden Selections at Not On The High Street

Set of Two Ivory White Hanging Balcony Planters, Garden Selections at Not On The High Street

Balcony planters are essential for a balcony garden. They help free up space but also create an appealing ‘green wall’ effect around your balcony railings or glass barriers. If you fill the planters with trailing plants, you’ll have the added bonus of extra privacy too.

These hanging balcony planters are made from chic galvanised zinc and feature two generous hooks, enabling you to hang them in a variety of locations.

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Feeling inspired? Finish off your new small garden design with some eye-catching decor! Check out our guides to the best garden art, outdoor rugs, garden lighting, and comfy, stylish garden furniture on the market right now.

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This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in HomeStyle magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?