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Small garden ideas

emmalane99emmalane99 Posts: 2
edited April 2023 in Garden design
We purchased a new build home 4 years ago with a small garden. It measures approx 7.5m x 4.5m. I have attached pictures. 

As you can see, the garden has been neglected over the years (it also needs a good mow). Lots of weeds growing which I have no motivation to pull, moss also growing and grass not growing back in patches - particularly near the fence. Our garden is south facing and gets a lot of sun which is great, so we want to make this a nice space to spend with family and friends. We would like a space for a BBQ and seating area (we were thinking of extending the patio across the full width of the garden at the back and the front which should help with the horrible patches of mud where the grass isn’t growing. 

We have 2 Guinea pigs and with the cost of living crisis, I would like to try and also start growing my own veg for them. I have a mini greenhouse thing which I am thinking of using cable ties to attach to the fence across the left (on the path).

Wheelie bins can be moved to the front of the house if needed.

Does anyone have any other ideas of what we can do? As you can see I’m really not a gardener at all but would really love to try and maybe come to love it when I have a garden I enjoy.

We have no children yet, but lots of children in the family who do come to visit. We do have a dog (as seen in photo) so would need something that would work with her also.

Thanks everyone!


  • CeresCeres Posts: 2,691
    Hi and welcome to the forum.
    Firstly, do you need a lawn? Getting a mower out for a small patch of green can be one of those tasks that gets pushed to the bottom of the list and with the prospect of hotter and dryer summers (maybe) perhaps a lawn is just a waste of space that takes too much work for little reward.
    You could replace the grass with raised beds with a path between them which will give you the option of growing vegetables, herbs and a selection of flowering plants for colour and to feed the insects. This is something we have done in the past couple of years and it gives you a versatile space to play with and you can leave one fallow while the others take on the heavy work of making the garden look good. A raised bed makes a very good sandbox for children.
    Another option is a gravel garden with sun loving plants scattered amongst the stones.
    Google is your friend when it comes to ideas for gardens as there are so many images online.
    One big question you have to confront is, how much time can you spare to look after the garden? Something that looks great when it is new can take a lot of work to keep it looking that way which is possibly why pensioner's gardens look neat and those under the care of busy families sport a decent display of weeds and barren areas. There's nothing wrong with weeds but they can be thugs.
    Good luck with the garden.

  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze Posts: 5,632
    @emmalane99 A south facing garden is a great asset, a garden that is obviously loved and cared for also adds value to a property.
    You do sound disillusioned at present perhaps because you are not sure where to start. Weeding won't be a pain if you have a space you love.

    Do you ever take time to sit out there guinea pig on lap with a cup of tea?  If not you are missing out on so much. A nice garden just to sit in for a few minutes even in the winter can lift the spirits, something you can do when it is south facing and sheltered.

    I think you would be wise to extend the patio, could you use some of the paving at the bottom of the garden or maybe that wouldn't be enough, perhaps mix and match with some areas of gravel within the paving. You could plant thyme in the gravel if your soil is free draining.  A larger patio with a seating area and a pots with colourful plants would extend the house out into the garden. Make sure there is enough room to move the chairs in and out. With pots go for the largest you can afford.

    A pot of cut and come again lettuce for you and your guinea pigs would be another thought. No need to go out and buy it. Tastes so much better.

    In such a small space a lawn is a problem, you may not have a lawn mower if not don't invest in one until decide on the best ways to spend your money.However a small lawn can be a great space for small children. Ultimately encouraging children outside into a garden would be most important thing for to me. A 6ft wigwam of runner beans is always fun.

    Sorry if this is too long, perhaps you could put it in your bookmarks ans save for a rainy day. Good luck it is time to make a space that you will love so many people don't have a garden we are the lucky ones.
     Retired Gardener, new build garden, clay soil, South Notts.

    The more I garden the less I know but the more pleasure I get from it. Monty Don 
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze Posts: 5,632
    @zugenie That is lovely, I haven't seen these photos before. Perfect use of a small space. I did think the patio would be a good place to start. You can't do it all at once but make a start and it soon becomes additive as you know.
     Retired Gardener, new build garden, clay soil, South Notts.

    The more I garden the less I know but the more pleasure I get from it. Monty Don 
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 23,841
    Turned your photos, you have to reduce the size a bit, glitch on this site.

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • Thank you all for your responses, much appreciated.

    @Ceres Time is not my friend at the moment, am I’m honestly not sure if I would be the type of person to want to spend lots of time working on the garden - it sounds great but I think you are definitely right and I don’t want to pay lots of money or take the time in making the garden look nice and then leave it to to waste.

    @GardenerSuze I feel you are definitely right and that looking after the garden (including weeding) will not feel so much of a chore once I have (or start to) create a space that I love. I feel I have left it for so long that I do not even know where to start.

    @zugenie That is beautiful and looks like such a difference space. It definitely gives some good ideas. We were thinking of gravel but wondered if it was a bad idea - worried about my dog potentially eating stones. She used to pick up stones and chew on them (albeit when she was a puppy, she’s 18m now), and we had to get rid of all of the stones on the border of the fence as I was panicking about vet bills if she ended up swallowing one - we haven’t put them back yet, they are still in bin bags in the shed.

    We would like to keep a bit of lawn just for the dog and when we hopefully have children in the future, but have possibly now thought of paving 2/3 of the garden and having maybe an L-shaped bit of grass at the back of the garden, with some flower beds breaking it up a little bit. Hopefully this makes sense
  • seacrowsseacrows Posts: 234
    You could start with the weeds by pulling the dandelions and feeding them to the guinea pigs. If you don't fancy putting in lots of time, you might want to think perennial veg. Our rabbit used to love chives, sage, dandelions, clover, that sort of thing. Oh, and strawberries - great big boings of delight for them.
  • I feed our guinea pigs the dandelions, they love them, so you can already feed them some treats from the garden.
    Ours also get home grown tomatoes, easy to grow without needing much time or space, you could start that this summer without waiting to do the garden up.
    Also, if you kept a small lawn you could have the piggies mow it for you in the summer as ours get through a good amount of grass in their run, they love it. May be able to put off mowing it, much more fun to watch them.
    Good luck

    @zugenie your garden looks great, such a difference with so many different things in it. Out of interest, did you raise up the shed at the back and why?

  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze Posts: 5,632
    edited April 2023
    @emmalane99 Good to hear from you, it isn't easy trying to help someone you don't know sometimes. You might hate what I have to say and my ideas but writing and sharing my thoughts I enjoy.  So many people have a small garden and they are not sure where to start, I like to think I might be able to help others too.

    You obviously want a garden that is easy to maintain and a space to share with your pets. If you cover such a large part of your garden with paving you will need to be careful as to how it drains. It will also be important to soften the area with plants as you say. Plants in a garden attract insects birds and wildlife a vital part of our ecology. They naturally help us all with our wellbeing

    There needs to be something to say 'hey I want to go out there and see what is going on'. Planting will do this for you. It will be the shady part of your garden so you will need to keep that in mind when looking for plants. Good Luck Suze.
     Retired Gardener, new build garden, clay soil, South Notts.

    The more I garden the less I know but the more pleasure I get from it. Monty Don 
  • CeresCeres Posts: 2,691
    @zugenie That's a lovely garden and very inspiring.
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