Last Updated Dec 15, 2010 · Written by Jaclyn Fitzgerald
Even if you only have a small space to work with, with the right plant selections you can still end up with your own private oasis to relax or entertain in. Find out more.
If you only have a small space to work with, you need to look for plants that look good all year round. There are heaps of plants that do this but it is a good idea to talk to a landscape designer or your local nursery as your plant choices will be dictated by factors such as the area you live in, what your garden aspect is, and what you personally want the plants to do. Two examples of plants that look good year round are hebes and abelias. The hebes Annie's Winter Wonder is drought tolerant and has pink, white, and green foliage, so it looks great even when it's not flowering. The abelias Kaleidoscope is a lemon yellow colour for much of the year with reddish leaves in autumn.
Think a small space means that you can't grow trees? Think again! There are some absolutely fantastic small to medium sized that make great features in the garden. Magnolias are perfect examples, or you could opt for ornamental fruit trees, or other choices include crepe myrtles, wattles, grevilleas, and so on. Again, your local nurseries will be able to give you more advice.
Privacy often becomes an issue in small spaces, especially if you have houses that are close together. Fast growing screening plants come into their own here and some great choices include lillypilly (there is even a variety named Goodbye Neighbours), murraya, and English box. Alternatively, you could plant strategically, so that you achieve privacy where you need it – in entertaining areas, screening windows, etc.
One good trick is to use a number of plants to create an "understorey" at ground level. Combine this with using taller plants as this will make the whole garden feel greener and lusher. Also take advantage of what you can see beyond your fence line. If your neighbours have a particularly nice tree or plant in their garden that you can see, take advantage of it in your own design. Because fences remind you of the limited space you have, cover these up using hedges, creepers, climbing plants, or even some nice shrubbery.