» Browse Photos | Browse Articles | Legal Information | Links | Contact Us | Subscriber Login

Webphotos Free Articles

Articles » Landscaping » Small Spaces » Expand Your garden

Expand Your garden



Many of us have to make do with only a small area for gardening, but there are a number of techniques you can use to make your garden seem larger.

Use plants to make the garden appear larger


Dark colours make areas seem smaller and more enclosed. Using light colours will make an area seem larger and more open. So choose plants with light coloured foliage and flowers.

Combining light and dark foliage plants can create the illusion of depth. If you place light coloured foliage in the foreground and dark foliage in the background, the foreground will appear to be closer. The background will seem to move away, making the area seem bigger.


Plants with large leaves appear to be closer than they really are, just as plants with small leaves recede into the background. You can use this contrast to create depth in the garden. Use large leaved plants in the foreground and small leaved ones in the background and watch your garden expand before your eyes!


Banksia ericifolia (Heath Banksia) – native shrub, 2-4 m tall, with narrow, bright green leaves; yellow-orange candle-like flowers in winter

Choisya ternata (Mexican Orange Blossom) – Small shrub with glossy light green leaves; fragrant white flowers

Convolvulus cneorum – groundcover with silvery-green foliage; white bell flowers

Festuca caesia (Blue Fescue) – clumping grass with blue-grey foliage

Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender) – Small shrub with grey-green narrow leaves; mauve flower spikes in summer

And many variegated plants


Allocasuarina torulosa – native tree with long, dark needle-leaves

Gardenia – low-growing shrubs with dark green glossy leaves; fragrant white flowers in summer

Gordonia axillaris (Franklinia Axillaris) – small tree with dark green leaves; large white flowers in autumn

Rapheolepis indica (Indian Hawthorn) – medium shrub with dense, dark green foliage; white flowers

Rhododendron var. – many varieties have large, dark coloured leaves

Trachelospermum jasminoides (Star Jasmine) – climber with glossy, dark green leaves; white flowers

Viburnum davidii – small shrub with dark green leaves

And many conifers


Agapanthus praecox – evergreen bulb with strap leaves; purple or white flowers

Bergenia cordifolia – low-growing perennial with broad shiny leaves; pink flowers in winter

Camellia japonica – many varieties have large glossy green leaves; showy flowers

Canna Lily – herbaceous plants with narrow upright habit and large, broad leaves; showy flowers

Clivia miniata – evergreen bulb with dark green strap leaves; orange flowers in winter

Gunnera manicata – large herbaceous plant with huge rhubarb-like leaves; moist soils

Hosta – clumping perennial with attractive large, broad leaves

Mahonia aquifolium – upright shrub with broad, prickly leaves

Senecio x hybridus (Cineraria) – annual with large, broad leaves; colourful flowers in winter; need shade


Buxus sempevirens – small to medium shrub with dense, small leaves; good hedging plant

Ceanothus – low shrubs to small trees with small, dense, dark green leaves; blue flowers in spring

Coleonema pulchrum (Diosma) – small dense shrub with fine leaves; small pink or white flowers

Myrtus communis – medium to tall shrub with small, dense, aromatic leaves; fragrant white flowers

Syzigium (Lillypilly) – small dense shrubs to tall trees with glossy small leaves

Westringia fruticosa (Coastal Rosemary) – native shrub with small, narrow grey-green leaves; white flowers

Design your garden to make it appear larger

Careful planning before you plant can make a big difference to the look of a garden.


Avoid blocking out the sky. Use tall trees with open foliage, otherwise they will make the area seem very small in overcast or dull light. Deciduous trees are ideal for these situations.

Leaving areas open can also allow you to use the ‘borrowed landscape’ – the trees and plants from adjacent properties. But don’t make the garden too open. Plants are needed to screen off any nearby buildings and roads that spoil the look of the garden.

Solid plantings are more ‘enclosing’ than plants with open foliage, so avoid using ‘hedging’ type plants and select those that have less dense or even see-through foliage.


By hiding the harsh appearance of a wall or fence, the space within a garden can look larger. Plants such as climbers provide a softer visual screen than solid walls and fences. They disguise walls and fences without taking up too much space.

Ficus pumila

Creeping Fig

Small green foliage

Jasminum polyanthum


Small white fragrant flowers

Parthenocissus sp

Virginia Creeper

Autumn red foliage; deciduous

Pyrostegia venusta

Orange Trumpet Vine

Brilliant orange flowers in winter


Climbing Roses

Traditional climbers for walls with various colour blooms


A garden will seem larger than it really is when you can’t see all of it at once. A simple trellis or a raised garden bed in the middle of a garden can divide up a garden into different areas or ‘rooms’. The effect can also be enhanced by using different types of plants or ground cover. For example, one area of the garden might have a paved surface with plants in terracotta pots, while the other side of a climber-covered trellis has a lawn area with a fish pond. By creating rooms with different styles or characteristics, you will also increase the potential uses for the garden.

Learn more with ACS Distance Education www.hortcourses.com

Article by John Mason Dip.Hort.Sc.FIOH Principal ACS Distance Education

For more information on courses and books offered world wide through John’s school, see www.acsgarden.com , www.acsbookshop.com

 Select a topic: Plants | Landscaping | Hospitality | More... | Search:
The information given is for general information and should not be regarded as advice in any matter.
ACS Distance Education disclaims all and any liability in relation to any act or omission which is done in reliance to the information provided in this web site.
While every effort is made to ensure that we display correct information on our website, errors can occur.
ACS Distance Education disclaims liability or responsibility for orders or complaints arising from such errors, including (but not limited to): pricing, fees and course requirements.
ACS Distance Education reserves the right to decline orders arising from such errors.
ACN: 006 249 476, ABN: 69 424 798 419