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Small but beautiful

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Small spaces are seldom considered worthy of a garden. Yet in today’s urban areas, plot sizes and consequently garden spaces are getting smaller.We must therefore get innovative and find ways to realise beautiful and functional gardens within limited space.

For example, in one project, the client, a successful businessman, was determined to fulfil a decent wish list on less than 100 square metres of garden space, off a back-facing lounge.

He wished to have a modern garden for entertaining friends and business acquaintances.

Luckily, the modern architectural style of the house and the open-plan living design lent itself well to the idea, and provided numerous opportunities to complete a garden design that not only signified use, but also invited the occupant to interact with it.

The sight lines from within the house offered valuable cues that played a strong part in influencing the final outcome.

 Stretch the space

To stretch the space and make it appear larger, the floor was laid out in a linear fashion with long hardwood decking accompanying large porcelain tiles measuring 1200mm by 600mm.

This combination made the space interesting, leading the eye through the garden and ending with a planting bed.
On one side of the garden, two water-feature troughs were laid in the same linear manner.

The little bubble fountains offered not just visual delight but also calming sounds for the entertainment area in the centre.

At the end of one of the troughs, a mirror on the wall reflected the water feature, giving the illusion of extended space beyond the wall.

The long white boundary wall itself drew the eye to the back of the garden and created a sense of extra depth and perspective as it reflected across the mirror.

The choice of colours and textures was deliberate to make the space appear larger.

 Colours and textures

Beside the white flowers of the frangipani, no other flower colour was incorporated.

The result was a subtle green monochromatic scheme that appeared to recede and gave the illusion of a larger space.

Coarse textures were used to create some drama and interest in the peripheral beds and at the back, but the centre was kept clear with the fine lawn dominating and providing textural contrast.

This way, an apparent distance was created between the two contrasting textures, making the space appear larger.

The smaller the space, the more important garden accessories and furniture become.

This has to do with added function as well as the way the elements themselves are articulated in detail. Once again, the furniture was kept subtle in both form and colour.


The white plastic wicker chairs and the dark brown cube stools, complemented with the white and grey upholstery took the fuss out of the centre, giving an illusion of space.

The flexible seating arrangement itself enabled the garden to host different functions from an intimate dinner for two to a party at the weekend.

This added functionality made the garden feel bigger as well.

— The writer is a landscape architect.


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