Inspirational Small Garden Ideas

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Design principles help achieve an attractive, appealing place to live and enjoy your garden.


“In his garden every man may be his own artist without apology or explanation.  Each within his green enclosure is a creator, and no two shall reach the same conclusion; nor shall we, any more than other creative workers, be ever wholly satisfied with our accomplishment.  Ever a season ahead of us floats the vision of perfection and herein lies its perennial charm.”Louise Beebe Wilder


Wise words indeed … no two gardens are ever the same!

We are all unique with different needs and visions of what our ideal garden will look like.  What a “small” garden means to one person may be vast space to another.  Our perspective of space is often relative to our previous experiences.  If we have lived on an acre and move to a quarter acre block, we may think we now only have a ‘small’ garden to maintain!  If we have only ever had an indoor plant and now have a courtyard, our new garden is full of possibilities.


Great use of vertical space and colour | The Micro Gardener

Make good use of vertical space by growing a colourful (or edible) privacy screen. Here lattice has been used for plant support. Repeat colour with plant foliage, flowers or pots. These design principles help bring harmony and functionality to a small garden space.


Gardening in Small Spaces – An interesting history…

  • Historically, gardening in small spaces goes way back to the Egyptians who used earthenware pots to highlight symmetry within a garden design, define and separate garden spaces and grow rare plants.
  • The Romans embraced container gardening with great passion, developing many new techniques for making terracotta pots, inventing topiary and greenhouses and were big on garden art.
  • Many of the techniques used in small gardens today are borrowed from ideas the Romans developed.  They painted courtyard walls with trompe-l’oeil trees and flowers to make the space look larger; filled them with fountains, statues, pottery urns, artifacts and vases; and grew a wide range of culinary, fragrant and medicinal plants.


So, where to start …  Need a little inspiration?

With so many options, you may be wondering where to begin!


“The old rule applies:  Keep It Simple!

Decide on a theme or idea that appeals to you and then develop it.  Many people just start with a pot or container until they gain confidence.  Regardless of your budget, there are plenty of options for achieving your goals with tips on ways to get flavour, beauty and fragrance into your garden – indoors and out.


Here are some inspiring ideas to get you started.


Sprouting seeds at home in a jar - it's so easy! | The Micro Gardener

Healthy sprouts are an easy first step to start growing your own food.


It really doesn’t get any simpler than adding some fresh sprouts into your diet – you don’t even have to leave the kitchen bench or use a pot or soil!  Soaking a tablespoon of seeds in water and rinsing them daily will have you sprouting in just a few days! Or try microgreens – an equally easy ‘garden’.


Mushroom growing kit | The Micro Gardener

A mushroom growing kit comes with everything you need – just follow simple instructions for a rewarding harvest.


You don’t have to leave the house either to grow some delicious mushrooms.  A mushroom kit will provide you with several harvests of fungicide free mushies!  It’s incredibly exciting cutting your first flush of home grown mushrooms.


Clay Pot with herbs | The Micro Gardener

Tasty herbs


A terracotta pot filled with fragrant culinary herbs for the kitchen will provide you with tasty garnishes, herb teas and fresh ingredients for meals.

  • Many herbs are multi-functional – they can be used to add flavour to meals, have medicinal value, provide attractive flowers (which in turn attract beneficial insects and pollinators) and can be brewed for pleasant and medicinal herb teas.  Chives, basil, sage, coriander and rosemary have attractive flowers that when dried, provide a harvest of free seeds for your next planting.
  • Plant chives and parsley as an edible ‘ornamental’ border around a small garden bed – they look sensational planted en mass and repetition is another easy design principle to implement.
  • Aloe Vera is a well regarded medicinal herb that is attractive in form and shape and makes a beautiful feature plant.  It does well in pots and produces ‘pups’ or baby plants as it matures so you get more plants for free!


Flower pot man garden art | The Micro Gardener

A flowerpot man made out of terracotta pots and a plant for ‘hair’ add a sense of fun.


Add some garden art that reflects your personality or style.  If you have children let them create their own stepping stones, planter box or pot, paint a garden sign or add some quirky touches with a collection of different pieces.


Welcome to my garden. Here I have a mini sign in one of my herb pots that is on an outdoor table as an edible centrepiece. | The Micro Gardener

Find a piece that reflect you – or make your own to add character to your small garden space. This is one of my herb pots that is on an outdoor table as an edible centrepiece.


Perhaps you have a collection of rustic tools, musical chimes, a bird bath or feeder or even some handmade pottery items you no longer use indoors but could add character to the outdoors?  Take another look around your garage and home and think about what items could be relocated to an outdoor position to give a fresh new look.


Garden art bird | The Micro Gardener

A bird statue tucked away in a corner of the garden may be your style.


Regardless of your space and budget, part of the enjoyment of creating a special garden is adding to it over time.  Search around to find things you like – unusual ornaments, keep an eye out for plants, pots and materials that match your theme or help add character to your garden.


"Grown by a Domestic Goddess" garden sign | The Micro Gardener

Add a touch of humour or quirkiness to your garden.


Flowers add so much to any garden space and starting with a punnet of annuals in a pot is an easy addition to any small garden space.  There are flowers that even grow well indoors.  Theming your garden space with a particular colour also works well.  If you are buying flowering plants, why not coordinate species that have a similar colour?

Blue and white is a classic combination that look sensational together.  Cheery yellows also go well with blue.  With a little extra thought to plant selection, you can flowering colour all year round.


Pot of annuals | The Micro Gardener @

Start with some potted seasonal colour.


Or try experimenting with a hanging basket to save space and add colour at eye level.


Co-ordinating colour outdoors | The Micro Gardener @

Flower colours can be co-ordinated to complement your home.


Limited space can still be put to great use with some clever design tricks like making the most of vertical space growing opportunities.  Some design features that can maximise use of vertical and horizontal growing space are trellises, tepees, fences, ladders, stakes, espalier techniques to train plants to grow flat against a support, pergolas and arbors.  Not only are these functionally effective, but tend to be more low maintenance and enhance your garden space visually.


Plant ladder great use of vertical space | The Micro Gardener

This eye catching idea could be used with plants and containers of any kind. A painted ladder or pots would be a great garden space for children.


Recycling old containers and finding new ways to re-use them in the garden is a popular and sustainable gardening practice.  Think about the functionality of an object and how it can be utilised in a new way.  There are many examples and photos on this blog to help inspire you.


Colander planter with colourful petunias | The Micro Gardener @

Turn an old colander into a stylish hanging planter. The holes provide decoration as well as practical drainage.


Recycle centres, council clean up days and garage sales are all great places to find old containers to re-purpose. Here are a few more examples:


A recycled bathtub can house a herb, veggie, salad or water garden | The Micro Gardener

Turn a bathtub into a rustic herb garden.


When an old wheelbarrow rusts out or gets a few holes, rather than ending up in landfill, re-use it as an edible planter box.  It adds loads of character and can still provide functionality as a mobile garden.  Just wheel it to where the sun is!


Wheelbarrow planter - deep enough to grow both veggies and salad greens | The Micro Gardener

Fill the wheelbarrow with fresh herbs and veggies and give it a new home.


Almost anything can, with a little imagination be turned into a place to grow something in your own backyard.


Recycled drawers as growing boxes with tomato trellises underneathRecycled drawers as growing boxes with tomato trellises underneath | The Micro Gardener

Recycled drawers are used here as grow boxes for herbs and veggies. Stacked vertically on ladders, this is a nifty idea for saving space in a micro garden.


Look for containers that have good drainage and are made of materials that won’t break down too quickly.  You will find lots of ideas and tips in Container Gardening.


Succulents in a woven basket | The Micro Gardener

This re-used basket with hardy succulents is both an attractive yet practical container.


Raised no-dig garden beds not only save your back, but are practical, low cost and attractive.  No dig beds are highly productive growing spaces and have many advantages.


Raised garden bed - here one made out of timber | The Micro Gardener

With great drainage, easy access and compact growing space no-dig garden beds are a great choice for micro gardeners.


They come in different shapes, materials and sizes.  Here a wooden tub makes both a feature and a practical growing space.


Wooden tub of herbs | The Micro Gardener

A no-dig garden growing healthy herbs for the kitchen.


Try adding a feature plant, ornament or container to your garden as a focal point.


Wooden wheelbarrow with hanging basket of blue eyes | The Micro Gardener

A wooden wheelbarrow with a basket of blue flowers.


Improving indoor air quality by helping to remove some of the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and toxic fumes from appliances, furniture and building materials is  easy and cheap –  just include some indoor plants. Research shows they dramatically improve our health and well being – both in our homes and work places.


Houseplants help keep us healthy by cleaning our indoor air from toxins. | The Micro Gardener @

Even three small houseplants in a room can significantly reduce the air pollution.


Well, I hope these ideas have inspired you to get started in your next garden project!  Feel free to share your stories and ideas or leave a comment, no matter how brief!


Want more Design Ideas? Check out Ten Tips for Creating Beautiful Gardens, Inspiring Small Garden Spaces, Micro Gardening and Container Ideas.  For children’s garden design ideas, get some inspiration in themes for kids’ gardens or check out some amazing photos of containers other gardeners are growing their gardens in.

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© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2011-2013 – All rights reserved.

44 responses so far

44 Responses to “Inspirational Small Garden Ideas”

  1. […] Inspirational Small Garden Ideas […]

  2. Gardens for Kids | The Micro Gardeneron 21 Feb 2011 at 3:07 pm

    […] Inspirational Small Garden Ideas […]

  3. […] {recycled drawers as vegetable and herb grow boxes by The Micro Gardener} […]

  4. Lane'on 11 Mar 2011 at 8:05 am

    Loved your recycled drawers turned veggie grow boxes so much, they were featured in our “Trash to Treasure” post:

    Also love the colander hanging planter so I might be featuring that in a future post – ingenius!

  5. […] more ideas on growing flowers and fragrance in small spaces, check out Micro Gardening and Inspirational Small Garden Ideas for lots of pictures […]

  6. […] containers rather than have the convenience of buying new.  Many people prefer to use pre-loved or re-purposed containers or pots rather than buy at full retail cost.  You can save money, extend the life of an object […]

  7. […] Inspirational Small Garden Ideas […]

  8. […] Inspirational Small Garden Ideas […]

  9. […] Planter – I love this project from Amy at Positively Splendid because it’s a simple design idea to dress up your garden entrance.  It’s also a funky feature for a street number or to […]

  10. Growing Your Own Food Without A Gardenon 20 Oct 2011 at 10:06 am

    […] Growing your own food without a garden […]

  11. […] Inspirational Small Garden Ideas […]

  12. […] Inspirational Small Garden Ideas […]

  13. […] Inspirational Small Garden Ideas […]

  14. Martine, grosfillexon 11 Feb 2012 at 8:56 am

    That is really interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking extra of your magnificent post. Also, I have shared your web site in my social networks

  15. […] Inspirational Small Garden Ideas […]

  16. Tammy Dohertyon 24 Mar 2012 at 12:05 am

    This is a cool blog! I’m so glad to have stumbled upon it – a link to this article was shared by Heirloom Solutions Garden Center in IL (USA). We have a retail garden business also and I plan to send people over here for great ideas!

  17. The Micro Gardeneron 24 Mar 2012 at 6:33 am

    Thanks Tammy … and to Heirloom Solutions Garden Center for sending you down the path to my blog. Hope you enjoy pottering about here and can find some ideas you enjoy digging into!

  18. Olgaon 26 Mar 2012 at 8:24 pm

    Yours is the most helpful and informative blog for an amateur gardener like me:) Thank you!

  19. The Micro Gardeneron 26 Mar 2012 at 8:43 pm

    Thanks so much Olga and glad you like stopping by my blog. Hope you find some ideas you can try.

  20. […] Trash to Treasure: Garden planters & creative storage | The World by Us […]

  21. Sandyon 24 Apr 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Hi Anne

    I never seem to have enough soil for all the things I keep wanting to do in my garden. I keep running out and I followed your soil recipe 🙂 I just keep running out:(
    Love all your tips:)


  22. The Micro Gardeneron 24 Apr 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Hi Sandy
    My suggestion for making more soil is if you have space, to make a bigger compost system and/or start a worm farm if you haven’t already. These systems help provide you with a rich source of organic matter to feed your plants whilst recycling your waste products and recirculating nutrients to where you need them most. For growing a greater number of plants, you need to source your raw materials cheaply or recycle resources you already have faster. You might also want to choose the plants you grow carefully (i.e. those that have shallow root systems and require less soil/space to grow in). You can also grow in hay bale raised beds with pockets of compost for some edibles which may reduce the amount of soil mix you need. Let me know if you need more help.
    Happy planting!

  23. Spaces to grow «on 17 May 2012 at 11:27 am

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  24. Tiffanyon 21 May 2012 at 9:53 am

    Hi! I recently came across your posts on Pinterest which led me to your blog and I must say, I LOVE it! I’m getting so many new ideas from all of the pages! Thanks so much!

  25. The Micro Gardeneron 21 May 2012 at 10:12 am

    Hi Tiffany
    Thanks for stopping by and so glad to hear you are picking up some new ideas here. There’s plenty to ‘dig’ into … have fun exploring and happy gardening!
    Cheers, Anne 🙂

  26. […] (source) […]

  27. Jean Burkeon 18 Jun 2012 at 10:06 am

    Hello Anne, this is my first visit to your blog and I love it. It is so interesting to see ways that you have utilised small spaces, and the interesting containers you are using for your plants and veggies. I see you are from the Sunshine Coast – not too far from Brisbane where I keep my tiny allotment.

  28. The Micro Gardeneron 18 Jun 2012 at 11:54 am

    Hi Jean
    Thanks for stopping by – I love your blog too and see your allotment garden is thriving! If you are planning on coming up in July for the QLD Garden Expo at Nambour, I’ll be presenting a couple of workshops and will have a small garden display in the Giant Kitchen Garden area. It will have all sorts of creative container ideas and edibles planted to inspire people to grow in small spaces. Visit my Workshops & Talks page for more info on upcoming events. Would be lovely to meet you.
    Jean, you might also enjoy visiting the Green Journey website to read some of the inspiring stories there as well as loads of resources and articles for the SEQ region.
    Happy gardening and look forward to staying in touch. 🙂

  29. DIY Planters | Crafting a Green Worldon 01 Jul 2012 at 7:29 am

    […] Colander – Actually, this colander planter might be simpler, since the drainage holes are already there! For indoors, definitely put a tray underneath to catch […]

  30. […] Flower pot garden shelf from The Micro Gardener […]

  31. Anne-Marieon 02 Mar 2013 at 5:48 pm

    I have only just joined as a member but I am already addicted to ‘The Micro Gardener. I love it and have sat here for sooo long just looking at all the photo, ideas, help. Atm I only have 2 small greenhouses that I started growing a few herbs and tomatoes in. The knowledge I can gain from this site will be a tremendous boost in confidence to expand to a lot more homegrown vegies and herbs.

  32. The Micro Gardeneron 02 Mar 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Great to hear Anne-Marie! Starting small is the way to go and gradually get confident with each new plant. It’s like having a new member of the family come and stay for a while. Herbs bring flavour into the kitchen as well as healthy delicious herb teas, salad greens can be grown in a bowl or container and snipped as needed and vegies – just start with what you love to eat. There’s a good post on what you can grow in containers @ Dig in!

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  34. Laura Non 04 Apr 2013 at 8:53 am

    Hi Anne,
    I’m so glad to have stumbled across your website!
    There aren’t many good Australian sites like this to reference.
    I’ve been sharing some of your hints and tips with our Facebook fans and they’re also really enjoying it.
    Keep up the great work 🙂

  35. The Micro Gardeneron 04 Apr 2013 at 9:20 am

    Hi Laura
    Thanks for the link love and sharing the site. Much appreciated! Have liked your FB page too. Let’s keep sharing ideas and inspiring people to get growing their own food and becoming more self-reliant and resilient. Have a great day! 🙂

  36. […] these little pots everywhere give this container garden a quaint, cottagey feel.  I love […]

  37. Internet Money Path Reviewon 18 Apr 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Great post.

  38. […] Bolsas: En un pequeño jardín, las bolsas-macetero quedan muy bien. […]

  39. Things I Love: Pretty DIY Planterson 20 Jun 2013 at 6:38 am

    […] 2. A pretty vintage enamel colander hung from short chains. I’d want to hang this from a white picket fence, or crisp, white lattice. […]

  40. Patti Tayloron 26 Jul 2014 at 9:49 am

    Hi Anne. I just found your website and love all the ideas and tips. Our group in San Antonio was just started in February, and we use Aquaponics and TransFarming gardening techniques to grow (mostly) veggies and herbs.

    I will be a frequent visitor of your site and hope to be able to teach some of your techniques to the good people of San Antonio. Again, thank you for the time, effort and wisdom you put into this website. Patti

  41. Susanon 28 Jul 2014 at 7:15 am

    I was wondering how your friend made the water sensing worms for your potted plants. Is it simply an unfired piece of clay? I would like to make a bunch for myself and I am looking for a bit of instruction on what kind of clay to use.
    Thank you,

  42. Anne Gibsonon 30 Jul 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Hi Susan I am pretty sure the clay worms are fired but definitely not glazed so they remain porous. Hope this helps.

  43. […] Inspirational Small Garden Ideas […]

  44. […] Turn an old colander into a chic hanging planter. The holes provide decoration and also practical drainage. (Photo via The Micro Gardener) […]

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