Alan Titchmarsh reveals his small garden design tips for creating the illusion of space

Alan Titchmarsh gives failsafe advice for making a small and narrow garden look bigger – plus, more tips from garden design experts

small narrow garden – Alan Titchmarsh small garden design tips
(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny/Lucy Wilcox Garden Design/Future)

This small garden advice from Alan Titchmarsh is perfect for those garden owners who are in the seemingly unlucky position of having a plot that is both small and narrow. 

A small but square space can be relatively easy to make appear bigger, but narrow gardens can seem claustrophobic. Alan came to the rescue in a recent episode of ITV's Love Your Garden.

Alan's advice is perfect to add to your small garden ideas, along with some extra useful design tips from gardening experts.  

Alan Titchmarsh's small garden design tips

small outdoor dining area with raised beds either side

(Image credit: Lizzie Orme/Future)

In a recent episode of Love Your Garden, Alan likened gardens to theatre stages, explaining that the way you enhance a corridor-like backyard space is not too dissimilar to how you would enhance a small stage. His advice came as with the help of his team he helped a charity worker called Maxine transform her small garden. 

Alan suggested going against the seemingly logical thinking that 'here is our tiny garden, if we leave it uncluttered it will look bigger.' In fact, leaving a small garden without any additional detailing on the sides will mean that 'it will look as small as it is.'

Instead, 'if we bring the sides of the garden in a bit, and then the one beyond it and then the one beyond that, you're forced to look around things to see to the very end. We create the illusion of depth and the illusion of width and suddenly you have a much more theatrical and exciting garden.'

One way to create this 'theatrical' effect is to have raised garden bed ideas to the sides of the garden. The best climbing plants along bordering fences will also have the same effect. 

More expert design tips 

A small, narrow garden with large pavers by Quorn Stone

(Image credit: Quorn Stone)

Sam Norris, garden design consultant from Garden Street, suggests complementing Alan Titchmarsh's tip by experimenting with tiered planters. 'They create the illusion of space through a mix of colors and textures at different heights,' he explains. 

'These are ideal for cityscapes, as they create a segregated planting area for growing herbs/vegetables. Particularly suited in front of a green wall for that further touch of nature.'

When embracing the clutter you don't need to be confined to planting, mirrors can also be a wonderful adding. Taylor Gathercole, outdoor living expert for leading ethical fireside living brand, Kindwood, recommends experimenting with garden mirror ideas

'If your outdoor space is small or dark, try adding mirrors, which will both flood the space with light and make it feel more spacious. Just make sure to consider what the mirror will be reflecting once positioned – nobody needs to see a drainpipe or the back of the neighbor's broken shed reflected back.'

A final clever illusion trick that will pair beautifully with Alan Titchmarsh's advice is opting for oversized patio pavers. 'To give the illusion of more space, we recommend going with a larger paver size such as 900 x 600 or 800 x 800,' says Isabel Fernandez, Director at Quorn Stone. 'The larger the paver, the less grout and therefore it helps to create a seamless space that isn’t broken up by numerous grout lines.'

When working with a small space, like Alan Titchmarsh says it is all about utilizing the power of illusion. Be creative and don't allow yourself to be hemmed in by measurements.

Anna Cottrell
Anna Cottrell

Anna is a keen urban gardener, with David Austin roses and Japanese acers among her favourite plants. She moved into the world of interiors from academic research in the field of literature and urban space a couple of years ago. She's always been interested in how people make houses into homes, and how our concepts of what's stylish change over time.