Whether your outdoor space is a roof terrace, balcony, small backyard or patio, Ula Maria‘s new book, , takes a fresh look at creating a city garden. The book approaches creating a dreamy outdoor oasis as if you’re decorating a room — exploring how to work with scale, color and texture, and choosing the plants that will thrive in an urban space. “Spending so much time outdoors in my childhood made me think of a garden as a natural extension of my home — an inseparable part of everyday life,” says Ula. The book shows 22 small and innovative gardens with a range of ideas to copy. Using low-maintenance plants, affordable furniture, lighting and containers, Green: Simple Ideas for Small Outdoor Spaces Green offers simple solutions that don’t involve major structural work but result in a stylish urban sanctuary. Let’s see how much joy a small garden can bring!
In interior designer
Abigail Ahern‘s garden, dark colors provide a sense of luxury against lush green foliage. “My garden is incredibly restorative; it’s a place where I can go sit and chill at the end the day in the summer, rejuvenate, cook and feel in harmony with nature,” says Abigail. “I’ve designed it so I never see the neighbors, and there are lots of little areas to sit in. Texture is key and a restrained color palette is fundamental, as is scent.”
Designer: Abigal Ahern
An unexpected chandelier hangs from a branch and creates a sense of romance and whimsey. Quirky pieces of furniture are dotted throughout the space, for an “Alice in Wonderland” feel – intriguing, mysterious and full of soul. The varied patterns and surfaces of the smooth, glossy, rough or irregular foliage provide lots of interest.
Designer: Abigail Ahern
In this backyard measuring only 323 square feet, sun-bleached grasses nestle under fig trees and wild strawberries, sage and dill thrive among them, blurring the boundaries between a kitchen garden and a meadow-style planting. “Many say that a home is a true reflection of self, but I believe it is the garden, where personalities and relationships with our surroundings truly blossom,” Ula observes.
Designer: Ula Maria
A small balcony can still be an oasis for a variety of plants, but it means making the most of every vertical surface. Attach hanging planters to railings, and plant trailing varieties such as nasturtiums. For a bit of privacy, use planters or trellis to create green walls.
Designer: Alice Vincent
Soft clouds of foliage obscure the garden boundary, creating the illusion that it’s a larger space than it actually is. “The client wanted the garden to remind her of the Barcelona courtyards of her youth,” says garden designer
Adolfo Harrison. “To make the garden feel larger and more dynamic, we created a circular flow through the three seating areas, trees and Corten steel elements, providing multiple focal points that continuously lead the eye around.” Introducing cozy and comfortable nooks for seating and al fresco dining encourages more time spent outdoors.
Designer: Adolfo Harrison
My Mindful Home blog founder Marlène Fao and her partner moved into their home, the garden was a neglected grey box with mismatched, worn timber boundaries. They rebuilt the garden themselves by painting the fences and adding a built-in raised bed and furniture. Marlène used soft shades of lavender, white and clay to cover the decking and walls, evoking a Mediterranean beach house with olive trees, lavender, rosemary, curry plant and mint. The garden’s focal point is a large sofa — perfect for unwinding.
Designer: Marlène Fao
This garden mirrors the interior space with a
herringbone brick terrace, similar to the wood herringbone floor in the kitchen. Comfortable, high-quality furniture is a worthwhile investment, highlighting the style of a garden and making it much more inviting. A lounge-style sofa on the upper terrace is the setting for a relaxing evening.
Designer: Cameron Landscapes & Gardens
Two large chairs and a bistro-style table just outside the kitchen provide the perfect spot for morning coffee. Large stone block steps are inlaid with creeping ground cover plants, and every empty patch is filled with an abundance of pots. Contemporary lounge chairs and a small coffee table create a quaint breakfast spot, extending the kitchen out into the garden.
Designer: Cameron Landscapes & Gardens
This 452-square-foot front garden, designed by
Georgia Lindsay, doubles as a parking spot. Large, Corten steel panels resemble pieces of abstract art. The porcelain paving is laid in two-tone stripes across the width of the garden to make it feel bigger. A magnolia tree sprouts through a hole in the bench to offer shade.
Designer: Georgia Lindsay
Author: Wendy Jacob
by Ula Maria, (Octopus Press, 2020, $30) Green: Simple Ideas for Small Outdoor Spaces