top of page

Size does not matter

Who said size matters? These days our homes are getting smaller, and not surprisingly, our gardens. So how do you do more with less?

Visiting the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show recently,I came across some very lovely displays in the Avenue of Achievable Gardens. These gardens managed to pack quite a punch in a quite a small space (5m x 3m). So how did they do it? Let's check out some of the tricks these horticulture and design students employed ...

1. Be crafty with construction

I just loved "Retro Urbana" a compact, edible garden that is also very functional. Check out the red table. Being hinged, it can be stored vertically against the fence to create more space when not needed. The table is made out of an old door, so when in the vertical position, it looks like an exit from the garden ... what is behind it? ;)

"Retro Urbana" by Ricky Hayward and Gayle Benchley (Image: Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show)

2. Rethink space

Inner-city balconies can be quite small. So how can you fit as many plants into them as possible without them getting in the way? Here, plants have been selected to suit the shadier micro-climate underneath this bench. This space would normally be under-utilised. Using it this way means more plants can help to create a more lush sense of greenery in a limited space.

"The New Horizon" by Charlotte Wiltshire (Image: Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show)

3. Elevate or lift plants

Can't go under it? You'll have to go over it! In this garden, plants have been lifted onto the rooftop of these benches. This sort of structure would be well suited to displaying hanging plants.

"Reused and Adored" by Nicole Taylor (Image: Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show)

4. Trick the eye

Some of you may know I have a fascination for most things French, especially the trompe-l'œil. Trompe-l'œil is a technique that uses realistic imagery to create an optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. It is a common feature in many gardens, big and small. Trompe-l'œil literally means "deceive the eye". It can create the illusion that there is another garden or space beyond the one the viewer is standing in.

"Welcome to Wonderland" by Christina Dinakis

5. Do more with less

Minimalism may not be everyone's cup of tea. However, sometimes a space is so small that it can be overwhelming if you try to put too much into it. Stick to a theme, limit the colours selected and include just a few pieces of quality furniture.

"Wonder Wall" by Sarah Jardine

6. Select smaller varieties of plants you love

Click here to read my article for the Nursery and Garden Industry Australia's National Nursery News e-newsletter. In it, I discuss how the trend to inner-city living is creating demand for smaller plants that fit smaller gardens, i.e. balconies, courtyards, even indoors. Think dwarf varieties, compact cultivars and more.

If you need any advice with your smaller garden design, contact us at

A bientôt!


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page