Big Ideas for Small Gardens

Practical Planning

Clever ways to enhance New Zealand outdoor spaces, from the book Big Ideas for Small Gardens by Carol Bucknell and Sally Tagg (Penguin NZ).

  • Consider a contemporary potager garden for small courtyards or townhouse gardens, with neatly trimmed hedges and beautifully arranged herbs, flowers, fruit trees and vegetables.
  • The use of walls, fences, climbing frames, trellises, obelisks and arches allows you to grow more vegetables in a small area and adds interest to the edible garden.
  • There are many pre-made vertical pocket gardening systems now on the market that can be hung from walls, or make your own with small pots hung onto a frame or hooks.
  • Mixing ornamental shrubs and flowers with herbs and vegetables is an excellent way of maximising space in small gardens.
  • The increasing range of baby or miniature vegetable and fruit varieties makes edible gardening much easier for those with little outdoor space.
  • Home orchards are now possible, even for those gardeners facing the spacial challenges of courtyards and balconies, thanks to the increasing range of grafted dwarf or miniature varieties now available.
  • Container gardening means you can use separate pots to grow vegetables with different soil and water requirements.
  • Many kitchen gardeners make their own compost, turning the unused parts of their edible crops into valuable nutrients. There are many small compost bins available to buy, or you could consider a worm farm (look out for mobile worm farms which are really handy for balconies as they can be wheeled out of sight when visitors arrive).
  • Espaliered fruit trees are a way to create narrow screens. Espaliering involves training selected branches to grow along horizontal supports and can be used for figs, apples, pears, apricots, and many other fruit trees.