20+ Small Garden Ideas That Defy Space Limitations

20+ Small Garden Ideas That Defy Space Limitations

Flowers and plants bring so much beauty to every space—big or small, inside or outside. But beyond aesthetic value, gardening can also be soothing and teach responsibility, while plants themselves purify the air. Given the benefits of gardening, the practice shouldn't be limited to wide-open outdoor spaces and large greenhouses. So, we've rounded up a slew of creative small garden ideas anyone can try, including bringing the outdoors in if you don't have a yard or balcony to speak of. Get your green thumbs ready for window-box flowers, hanging plants, tiny veggie gardens, and more ahead.

(Ditte Isager)
Make It All Encompassing

Designer Christina Nielsen transformed a Brooklyn backyard into a sitting garden using stone pavers set in gravel. Greenery encompasses the entire space from the fencing to the surrounding potted plants, making it the perfect city escape.

(manufoto llc)
Mix Different Sized Plants

On the balcony of a Houston, Texas, pied-à-terre by M. James Design Group, plants of varying sizes promote a soothing atmosphere. Recreate the look by placing tall potted trees and low potted bushes on the ground and small pots of flowers and herbs on the dining and coffee tables.

(Douglas Friedman)
Use the Kitchen

Delve into the joys of indoor gardening in a light-filled kitchen. In Singapore-based interior designer Elizabeth Hay's kitchen, an open shelf painted in a bright green hue hosts a row of potted flowers. The window sill boasts more vases with flowers, which also makes a great place for growing herbs.

(Jonathan Bond)
Go Sculptural

For a traditional take on a garden, opt for classic topiary plants. On this back porch by designer Barclay Butera, carefully manicured topiaries dot the perimeter. And if you simply want the look of a sculptural garden without any maintenance, consider going faux. “Silk plants look so realistic now, and you don’t ever have to worry about watering them!” Butera says.

(David A. Land)
Create an Archway

When photographer and stage designer Cecil Beaton lived at this home circa 1979, a rose-covered archway exuded romance in the backyard. Whether you only have a simple pathway leading to your home or a secret garden on your land, you can translate the concept to fit your space.

(Michael Dunne)
Fence It In

Rustic yet refined, a wood table sits in the center of landscape designer Lisa Bynon's vegetable garden in Southampton, New York. A cedar deer fence encloses formal raised planting beds.

(Ngoc Minh Ngo)
Try a Double Duty Fence

Or make your fencing work for you. Here, architect and designer Gil Schafer worked with landscape design firm Mohr & Seredin to craft an outdoor sanctuary with freestanding trellises that are painted the same color as the shutters, making them blend right in with the surrounding plants and flowers they're there to support.

(Eric Piasecki)
Enhance an Outdoor Shower

For a garden effect in a wooded area, use exterior walls and trellises. Here, designer Hadas Dembo used two trellises to create a privacy screen around an outdoor shower. The trellises promote greenery growth. A large potted succulent breaks up the verdant surrounding.

(Hadas Dembo)
Drive Over It (Really!)

Who knew you could drive over a garden without ruining it? Bay Area designer Dan Carlson combined succulents and herbs for this low-to-the-ground garden -meets-driveway flanked by permeable pavers. Not only will it beautify your driveway, but it also allows you to get the perks of a garden even without a spacious yard.

Set up a Small Greenhouse

Leanne Ford built this A-frame garden shed to function as an outdoor playhouse for her child and plans to turn it into a greenhouse once they outgrow its current use case.

Build It In

A succulent garden bed is built right into the exterior of this modern home designed by Tamsin Johnson. Each plant is tall enough to enhance privacy without totally blocking the view from the living room. Plus, succulents are super low maintenance, so it's the ideal option for anyone lacking a green thumb.

(Tamsin Johnson Interiors)
Make a Micro Wall

Here, designer Corey Damen Jenkins propped some mini pots of plants up on a shelving unit secured to the wall. This way, the screened-in porch feels like a lively garden while still keeping the livable space clear.

Use the Whole Wall

Step up your style and cooking game by arranging a mini nursery or herb garden on a screened-in porch. A living wall works perfectly on small porches. Take inspiration from Shoppe, a one-stop shop for plant lovers in Birmingham, Alabama, and use an armoire to display candles and China while keeping potting and gardening goods stowed away in the drawers.

(Laurey Glenn)
Stick to One Flower

To give your garden consistency (and to accommodate its tiny size), stick to one type of flower. Limiting yourself to one type of flower saves on yard work in the long run. These pink ones are sweet and romantic. Plus, they add dimension to the front entrance.

(Victoria Pearson)
Use Your Windows

Have a super small Juliette balcony or none at all? Line your windows with window boxes and then place some pots and plants in them to make that street view just a little prettier. This townhouse designed by Garrow Keddigan is a great example to follow. And you can swap out flowers seasonally!

(Paul Raeside)
Tend to a Few Pots

Starting small is a great idea for beginners, even if you have a large space to grow a garden since maintaining one yourself is a pretty big commitment. Potted sunflowers and plaid throw pillows on the garden bench align nicely with the quaint feel of the stone exterior home by Shazalynn Winfrey.

(Paul Raeside)
Have a Sense of Humor

No matter how small your garden is, you can always remember to leave room for fun. We're loving this sweet teddy bear topiary in the backyard of a historic Newport Mansion.

(The Preservation Society of Newport County)
Separate by Type

If you have to choose between a cutting garden or an herb and veggie garden, think about how much use you'll actually get out of each and go from there. Here, Deirdre Heekin and Caleb Barker managed to fit it all in.

(Ditte Isager)
Beautify Something Old

Don't toss it just yet. Salvage an old dresser to create a multi-level planter. Or use an old bathtub, a wheelbarrow, or even a truck... A smaller side table would also fit nicely on a tiny balcony or patio.

(House Beautiful)
Convert a Parkway

What is now a beautiful patio used to be the parking area! Designer Gary McBournie gave this saturated red brick patio a second life with a central sculpture and plenty of lush gardens. The red hue warms up the gray shingles and blue shutters on his Nantucket property.

Grow Fresh Produce

There's no kitchen game-changer like cooking with your own freshly grown produce. If you have a roof, consider creating your very own rooftop veggie garden. Or you could purchase a plot at your local community garden.

(Ngoc Minh Ngo)
Beautify a Pathway

A garden with a plan provides both beauty and elegance, says landscape architect Edmund Hollander. Use pavers to reinforce property lines, and then introduce colorful lavender to focus the eye. If your space is a lot smaller, use this as inspiration for a tinier version.

Create a Path

Think of your garden as an organized procession, advises Hollander. Stone steps will give your outdoor space some structure and lead your guests in the right direction, no matter how big or small your garden is.


Get your green thumbs ready with these 34 creative small garden ideas, from window box flowers to hanging plants, indoor veggie gardens, and more.