Small Garden Ideas to Steal from The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019
Take inspiration from the smaller Chelsea gardens to help you design your own outdoor space
Designers at this year’s show were making the most of every nook and cranny to include as much planting as possible in their gardens. Wildflowers, grass, moss and even plants that are often considered to be weeds were allowed to grow freely wherever they could find a space, and walls and roofs were planted with flowers and foliage.
If you want to surround your small garden with greenery, take inspiration from the Chelsea designers and think creatively about where you plant. Many surfaces could be suitable for creating a green roof, like this one in The Silent Pool Gin Garden by David Neale.
If your garden features a small, awkwardly shaped lawn that’s tricky to mow, consider losing the grass. To maintain a soft surface, you could try some alternative ground cover plants that don’t need mowing.
In The Harmonious Garden of Life by Laurélie de la Salle, what appears to be a curved lawn is actually a carpet of clover. The plants won’t require frequent mowing, and only need to be watered once a fortnight in the height of summer. On top of that, the clover will provide nutrients for the soil.
Can I have a lawn-free garden that’s kind to the environment?
Water was a major theme at this year’s show, with many of the large gardens featuring streams, ponds and even a lock. You don’t need a large garden to include a water feature, though, as long as you think creatively about its design.
In The Roots in Finland Kyrö Garden, designer Taina Suonio made the most of vertical space to incorporate this metal panel with water cascading down its surface.
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Homeowners with tiny plots often assume they need to be minimal with their planting to make the space feel cohesive and uncluttered. While this can look elegant and stylish, the designers at Chelsea showed that it’s equally OK to max out with your flower choice in a small space.
Naturalistic planting was a big trend at the show, with the gardens showcasing a broad range of flowers, foliage and colour.
Here, in The Donkey Sanctuary Garden by Christina Williams and Annie Prebensen, the compact area is bursting at the seams with all sorts of gorgeous plants, all packed into the tiny flowerbeds and helping to slow down the journey along the winding stone pathway.
Don’t feel you have to shy away from large sculptural features or trees in a small garden. In fact, at Chelsea, the designers positively embraced both. Trees were an important aspect in most gardens, with designers highlighting their environmental importance. Similarly, there were plenty of grand structures, such as charred timber walls and imposing arches.
Here, in the compact Art of Viking Garden by Paul Hervey-Brookes, a tree forms a shelter over a cosy seating area, while a metal column makes a grand statement in the centre of the space.
A great way to add interest and a feeling of space in a small garden is to incorporate different levels. This idea was key to the design of The Montessori Centenary Children’s Garden by Jody Lidgard, which used high areas and sunken zones to really maximise the space.
Here, a pink-arched walkway leads to a learning zone and potting area, while stairs access the space below. There’s a sunken greenhouse and a mass of vibrant planting at ground level. Jody has even made the most of vertical levels with a living wall for growing vegetables.
Did you follow The Chelsea Flower Show coverage this year? Which was your favourite garden? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.