Tiny Gardens: Window Sills and Balconies

With Camilla Grayley Garden Design

Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum)

Not surprisingly the term tiny garden is one of the most searched for on sites like Pinterest, the chance to make the most of any outdoor space has become increasingly important to us. Whether your tiny plot is a balcony, an already small courtyard that has been reduced further by an extension or a windowsill there are still plenty of creative ways to make the most of the space.

Sketch for Balcony Garden Design


If you can’t go out go up is just as applicable to gardens as it is to houses, using the verticals will not only create places for more plants but will also trick the eye into thinking space is bigger than it really is. This can be as simple as adding in some trellis panels to grow climbers up or hang planters off, whether choosing traditional wood, the more modern red cedar panels or metal panels, some of which are a piece of art in their own right. Nothing says summer like sitting outside on a summer’s evening surrounded by the heavenly scent of jasmine (Jasminum officinale)or honeysuckle, creamy white of Lonicera periclymenum ‘Heaven Scent’ or Lonicera periclymenum ‘Serotina’ with added deep pink streaks. Some of the newer varieties still have amazing scents but are much more compact and suited to a small space, after all who wouldn’t want to have a pot of Rhubarb and Custard, Strawberries and cream or Chic et Choc. Or fill pots with your favourite herbs, perhaps trailing rosemary, oregano, sage and chives, nothing beats being able to step outside and snip off a few leaves for dinner.

Purple French beans

Green Walls

Green wall systems are still increasing in popularity from basic modules that click together allowing you to create an as big or little wall as you like to those installed on the outside of commercial buildings complete with irrigation. Plants in shades of purples and greens are often used in public schemes such as geraniums, heucheras, grasses and ferns but last year I planted a metre square of a green wall using herbs and salad crops. The purple stems of beetroots, lettuce leaves, oregano, sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) and edible flowers, I’ve currently got the magazines and plant books out on the floor while I think about changing it up this year and possibly moving it to a different wall, maybe a scheme for dappled shade or a brightly lit sun-loving space.

Green wall on Marks and Spencer, York

Multifunctional Furniture

Multifunctional furniture is ideal to make the most of any space, from storage boxes that double as benches to provide extra seating, somewhere to store gardening tools and also provide a place to perch with a glass of wine. To benches that start out as a place for enjoying that first cup of coffee folding out into a table to work on or enjoy dinner at. There is an amazing range of small garden furniture from the traditional to modern bistro sets or even chairs that work just as well for indoor dining as they do outside. Some companies have even started producing half tables that are propped against a wall or balcony railing and still have enough room to fit two chairs round.

Compact Outdoor Seating at the Chelsea Flower Show

Window Boxes

If the only space available is a window ledge or sill then there is always room for a few pots or a tray of herbs. Window boxes can be updated with the seasons to provide something different to look at, a few bulbs of grape hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum) or Narcissus ‘Tête-à-tête’ to violas in a rainbow of colours over winter. Hydroponic kits for kitchens are increasingly trendy, trays complete with their own watering system and LED lights to ensure that your herbs, chillies or cherry tomatoes receive the right amount of light. Many of the kits are designed to be able to stack them on top of each other, creating your very own vertical farm, the ideal room divider between the kitchen and dining areas and highly Instagramable!

If you’re still looking for inspiration feel free to head over to Pinterest and have a look at the Tiny Gardens board, I will be continuing to update it over the year.

Salvia officinalis ‘Purpuracens’ (purple sage)

About the Author

Camilla Grayley is a garden designer based in York, mainly working in and around Yorkshire but has travelled up and down the UK to design gardens and is always happy to travel to help clients with their gardens. I love creating gardens with strong architectural outlines softened by voluminous planting that draws on year round interest, ensuring there is something to capture the eye whatever the season. Gardens should always evoke all the senses from the colour palette on the eye, to the rustling of plants swaying in the wind to the amazing perfumes that can be inhaled, whether on a summer’s evening or the depth of winter.

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