Creative ideas for small gardens for relaxation and entertainment

DELIGHTFUL: Easy to maintain and keep clean.

MANY expats do not have a thousand or more square metres of space in which to develop a garden, and some only have a hundred or two at the back of the house and a similar space, or nothing with a village house or townhouse at the front. But such small spaces can be converted into delightful gardens for relaxing and entertaining in, especially if the owners are working and don’t want to be rushing out to a local bar or restaurant each evening or weekend.

We therefore look at some of the possibilities for achieving the following objectives.

1.            Easy to develop.

2.            Easy to maintain and keep clean.

3.            A space in which to relax and entertain.

4.            Has privacy.

5.            Can be enjoyed all the year round.

6.            Is something different to the norm.

First let’s look at privacy from the road or overlooking houses. These days there is a wide variety of fencing materials for fixing to one to two metre high wire mesh fencing if you do not have high dividing or front walls.

Against this one can grow a wide variety of climbing plants such as bougainvilleas, pandorea jasminoides, jasmin polyanthis, dipledenias, passion flowers, climbing roses, lonicera, pyro-stegia venustas, solanum or even a mix of variegated ivies.

Each of these can be trimmed and tied in tight so as not to take up too much valuable floor space. Starred varieties can add perfume to the air.

These plants can also be grown over a wooden or metal gazebo frame to provide shelter from the hottest suns and winds and additional privacy when resting or eating out, and of course up the walls of the house.

For preparing food al fresco the most convenient are a gas barbecue for quick food preparation and a paella cooker or parabolic solar cooker for lazier less rushed days.

Additional shade could be provided by one or two trees with tall bare trunks or an awning coming out of the house or off a secure high dividing wall.

To keep soil from spreading, front the climbing plants and trees with low retaining walls.

A few perennial aromatic herb plants, such as lavenders and rosemary, could be planted between the trunks of the climbers and in front ground cover plants could be then grown over the walls.

I suggest that any other plants are grown in attractive containers including a couple of cordylines and sizeable succulents to give a sub-tropical effect.

Now what to have underfoot? Practical clean possibilities are interes-ting tiles, crazy paving, impressed coloured concrete which is available these days in a wide range of designs and colours and artificial grass laid over concrete, and for part of a  garden an area of slatted wooden decking.

Additional magic can be added by water fountains – self-standing or as part of a small fish or terrapin pond, a Jacuzzi, a bird aviary, lights for the evening and early hours and piped music from a couple of loudspeakers on extension wires from the house to play relaxing or party music at various times of the week.

To enjoy the sun or shade have one or two attractive sunbeds, preferably foldable if the space is really small.

Place the dining table under the awning gazebo or tree, perhaps moving it according to the weather and time of year. If not crowding the space too much, add a comfortable waterproof settee.

These ideas can be used for front or back gardens, and along broad avenues privacy can often be more at the front than from a close row of townhouses at the rear.

I hope that these ideas will enable working readers to use their limited space and relaxation time to the full.

© Dick Handscombe February 2015.

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