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design & words Amir Schlezingeramir schlezinger

Small Gardens Ethic

By far, the majority of London's outdoor anatomy is made of small gardens; from pocket-sized patios to minuscule courtyards, postage-stamp balconies to tiny roof terraces and miniature back gardens, this bewildering range of urban outside spaces defines an intriguing way of living out of doors these days, as confined as it may seem. With inspiring quotes by renowned London garden designers, writers and thinkers Mylandscapes, we take you through an insightful gamut of small garden design ideas to get inspired, entertained, and ponder your own outdoor space – whatever its size may be!

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1. art 2. city 3. style 4. ideas 5. space 6. design 7. finesse 8. balance 9. planting 10. surfaces

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1 art

“Artistically designed small gardens condense diverse nuances into distilled outdoor vignettes in personalised, sensory spaces.”


The integrity of abstract design ideas, preserved in tangible, well-defined details, articulates three-dimensionality beyond the spatial limitations of a small garden, and art fulfils this premise gracefully and intimately. Outdoor sculpture, specially commissioned artworks, travel artefacts and personal objects of desire coalesce endearingly in creative, client-designer partnerships, and elevate garden smallness with absorbing aspects of contemplation, ambience and context.

2 city

“These dense, inner-city surroundings... from Camden Town to Fitzrovia, Kensington to Knightsbridge... generate hectares of small garden pizzazz, with profuse idiosyncrasies to boot.”


Small gardens' ubiquity, outstretched in London's matrix of worn-out fences, high brick walls and criss-cross trellises defines omnipresent outdoor compactness, firmly ingrained in present-day urbanity. From inner-city courtyards to suburban back gardens and every allotment in their midst, the exterior spaces we design are symbolic of refuge, and the concise garden ideas which sustain them not only mitigate an endemic shortage of outside space, but also our prevailing propensity for acute time management and efficient garden maintainability.

3 style

“With modernity's consumption rate constantly in flux, small gardens define singular originality – like customised emojis...”


Discreetly screened-off, with well-planned, multi-use conveniences, efficient small gardens demonstrate fundamental design ideas of a shrewdly maximised outdoors. Still, we all perennially seek brilliant ideas to distinguish ourselves amid an infinity of compressed garden spaces, where sameness, mundanity and sheer predictability are all too often a recurring factor within an immensely gridded urban life. Establishing individual style, while customising outdoor distinction, moulds the sought-after narrative which intriguingly heightens small garden living, where space-saving solutions, materialised in one-off showpieces, meld style and substance with spatial resourcefulness.

4 ideas

“Outdoor refinement, sustained by a hands-on approach, shapes and fine-tunes small garden ideas into personalised spaces.”


Small gardens' uncharted potentiality, interwoven with the promise of fresh garden design ideas has magnified urban outdoor compactness into a significant platform over the last couple of decades, providing a central arena for contemporary garden designers as consummate purveyors of limitless, inventive design ideas. In London's fast-paced construction lane, minimalist living ideas percolate holistically right through from streamlined kitchens, open-plan lounging spaces and glazed views right into their enveloping rooftop verandas, front drives and indeed, very small back gardens – interlinked in fluid sequences of pared-down, utterly simplified lifestyle ideas. These painstakingly refined continua of architectural parity resound in each garden design aspect, nuance and idea, expressed decidedly within an overriding, hands-on approach which recycles the small garden ethos.

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5 space

“Subterraneanly extended homes, linearly elongated residences and laterally stretched loft extensions trendily shrink London's outdoor breathing spaces into diminutive garden zones...”


Further indoor legroom and its ensuing, multiplied property premium inevitably takes precedence over more natural outdoor pursuits and their seemingly taxing maintenance chores, in an eternal preservation discord. Still, with all of this spatial one-sidedness and architectural infallibility backstage, a certain je ne sais quoi hovers the surviving small gardens, and their sheer sense of magnetism forms the very leitmotif in idolising these bijou spaces' outright aptitude.

6 design

“A 4-square-metre Bloomsbury balcony... with more garden design clout per square inch than a snazzy Essex barn conversion...”


Smallish, feverish and efficiently fluid, the private exterior spaces gripping London homes immanently and rather overflowingly merit garden design conciseness, when clients seek to emancipate a well-earned green interlude, amplified by incisive individualism in tailor-made, miniature garden plots. In a technology epoch of never-ending, mind-boggling miniaturisation, this personal distinction permeates countless small garden projects, and while you can conceivably fit ten petite city gardens into one RHS Chelsea Flower Show Main Avenue Garden, our day-to-day garden tininess epitomises a scant outdoor reality upheld by garden design innovation and its vast ideas box.

7 finesse

“The knack of small garden chicness... like interior design with foliage, sky, sun loungers and great outdoor panache...”


The fundamental design ideas which shape the complexity of small urban gardens strive to personify their designers' and garden owners' passion for contemporary outdoor living, and to effectively achieve this elusive undertaking, we broaden run-of-the-mill prospects with indispensable finesse, steeped in garden design ingenuity. While it's habitually tempting to produce a small garden setting with contrived ideas, a disciplined editing process within a multitude of intentions fulfils its chief visual purpose, resulting in natural elegance. Finessing design ideas for small gardens while sat by the drawing table isn't essentially comparable to corresponding design arts and disciplines, since living gardens, however small, entail an entirely cohesive vision in a dynamically ever-changing, organic environment.

8 balance

“The closeness of small outdoor spaces entails astute design balance, augmented by an aptitude for scale and proportion.”


While you wouldn't typically associate small garden frameworks with spatial expansiveness, their three-dimensional potential is extensive, taking numerous forms in a versatile sphere of design ideas, where extrapolating the sum of minute elements derives a greater expanse visually and engrossingly. As garden designers who engage daily in London's small gardens and roof terraces within a compartmentalised backdrop, we're avid exponents of fully fledged, large-scale design features which unravel compressed segments into bona fide outdoor spaces. Reiteration of detailed nuances, harmony between proportion and consistency, counterbalance of voids and volumes, and ratio of soft to hard landscaping crucially articulate pivotal human scale.


spatial equilibrium

“A greater sense of depth... fervently explored in the formation, innovation and design ideas of small London gardens.”


Classic garden design ideas, principles and methodologies timelessly pervade and balance the structure of small gardens; their techniques continuously optimised and updated to maximise the size constraints of insubstantial garden spaces. Proportionality of forced perspectives, borrowed sceneries, layered foliage, and paramount juxtaposition of reflecting water surfaces alongside night-time illumination, contribute en masse to small gardens equilibria – accomplished and refined with great garden design poise and its ongoing ideas experimentation.

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9 planting

“Up-close foliage exquisiteness sustains the very crux of well-designed small space gardens and their planting schemes.”


Well-selected plant compositions delineate central design ideas in small gardens, generating distinctive interlayers which evoke innate, visceral perceptions amid indispensable naturality. These miniature garden landscapes, integrated into urban locations amongst confined surroundings, express resourceful foliage qualities and microclimatic diversity within highly site-oriented, client-focused garden designs, definitively surpassing any other outdoor space genre. Our city-bound clients relish such apt greenness while canopied by stark, unnatural settings, symbolic of countryside origins, where a universal impetus to personify and diversify illustrates an infinite array of living ideas within a dynamic interplay of garden design scalability.


essential ideas

“Well-balanced, multilayered foliage... conveyed with shrewd, garden design trickery and its optical illusions.”


Some of the most basic garden design ideas are fashioned in small gardens, where these thought crucibles' intense distillation process maintains myriads of unusual leafy combinations in minified, albeit exceptionally robust garden environments. We extend, accentuate and celebrate natural light above sturdy hardscapes with eclectic floras, whose leafage forms high contrast within its continuum and towards the backdrop, where glossy foliage surfaces enlarge apparent space, blur and soften boundaries, mitigate unsightly views, forge precious privacy, infuse sensory aromas and produce flavoursome edibility.

10 surfaces

“A well-orchestrated small garden hardscape, replete with minified, analogous impressions, yet visually complete.”


When foliar structures are at low ebb, far from their summer glory, a small garden's hardscaping ameliorates its setting with well-formed constancy. The quietude of hard landscaping ingredients in broader landscapes frequently assumes further connotations in ideas adapted for small gardens, and while scores of our clients favour a minimalist garden design approach, this truly varied spectrum amplifies small-scale outdoor spaces with each symbolically magnified detail nuance.


surface inventiveness

“Hard landscaping in small gardens... entails focus, purpose and specialism... to narrativise the triad of site, client and designer.”


An inspiring landscape design & build process conveys individual design brilliance, often conceived in the utter seclusion of a solitary drawing table, in search of initial ideas and materials for a brand-new garden design project. This subtle, elusive formula defines not only the designer's artistry and dexterity of its constructor, but also vital sense of place, when muse, inventiveness and plentiful design ideas are at the core of a landscaping scheme. Contrast, durability, ergonomics, pattern, tactility and indoor-outdoor fluidity are clearly as condensable as the very small gardens which they enfold...

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– coda –

Small Gardens are Beautiful

Utterly compact and routinely inaccessible workwise, the small gardens which outline London's majority private landscapes weave an astounding, rampant patchwork, and the distinct garden design ideas we continually originate to sustain this vibrant fabric are too woven in a network of up-and-coming designer intentions, ephemeral trends and picture-perfect expressiveness. Whether cosmopolitan, informal, pristinely immaculate or verdantly sylvan, these cosy outdoor spaces inspire and generate intimacy in abundance, way beyond the allotted square metreage, and like their self-reliant owners, the very concepts which we create to form instant, outdoor living platforms depict a uniquely compelling modus operandi of small garden sanctuaries.