Introduction - Getting the most out of your small garden
Just because you have a small garden, doesn’t mean you can’t create a fantastic area for your home. A patio area is perfectly suited to a small garden: it makes every inch of a small garden useful living space and can act as an additional decorative feature if done correctly. When your garden is small, you need to make use of every available inch of space and the surface floor should be no different. It can make or break the space, so you need to carefully consider your slab choices as well as laying patterns which can all make a difference. Do you want to add colour, or keep it simple? Do you want to use a random pattern or use a structured laying pattern?
The overall goal with a small space should be to create an impact as quickly as possible. This can be done in numerous ways, so let's dive in to these:
Slab Choice – Material and colours
A small garden can go one of two ways: colourful or simplistic. A small space means you can add as much colour as you like without it being overwhelming, or you can opt to keep the colour palette simple but striking.
Decorative – With a small space, you should not be frightened to inject a huge splash of colour. After all, with a small space to work with, you’re not going to overwhelm the eye. You’ve only got a small space to stamp your mark on, so make the most of it. Don’t be shy to add colour! An option such as Rippon Buff sandstone or even something dramatic such as a Rainbow sandstone means you can give your space a pop of colour even before you’ve added your other decorative pieces. A great option for those who want a colourful space.
Simplistic – this is a more subtle option that can achieve a great effect if done properly. The key is to choose a single striking colour and lean into it. Avoid greys and browns and opt for something such as a deep blue-black or a solid buff colour. Whatever your choice, you should stick to it religiously – try to avoid mixing colours and stick with one strong colour that you love. As an example, you can use a blue-black slate, or a Riva Cream porcelain tile and great a striking effect without overwhelming on colour.
Laying Patterns – The final touch
This is the often-neglected stage of a design & build that stop your patio from being perfect, and simply being okay. The laying pattern of your slabs is an important thing to consider because it can subtly affect the overall look and feel of your space if you don’t spend a bit of time thinking about options. There are a few patterns that are commonly used that are worth considering:
- Random mixed size
- Stretcher course mixed size
- Stretcher course single size
All of these are different, and all will affect the overall feel of the space, so let's look at each in turn so you can make the right choice for your space:
Random Mixed Size
This is the pattern chosen for 80% of designs. It’s simple to lay, no designing or planning needs to take place and you do not need to be as careful with your straight lines for fear of ruining the design. This pattern normally consists of 4 mixed size slabs or widths and lengths that all fit into multiples of 30cm. Therefore, the laying pattern can be done ad hoc as all slabs will fit together in the same multiples. It looks like below:
This is the most common option, but it isn’t always the right choice. It’s the quickest and easiest, but considering your small space, you have the time to choose the pattern right for you. If you had to install a 100m2 area, you may be on a tighter time budget and choose to go for the simpler option, but as your garden is smaller, the time restrictions of laying a more precise pattern shouldn’t put you off.
This pattern is mostly suited to those looking to create a rustic or traditional space. It combines an uncomplicated design with a solid product and builds the foundations for a traditional space.
Stretcher Course Mixed Sizes
This is an alternative laying pattern using the same size slabs as above. This pattern creates long straight lines while using a mixture of sizes. When you use a lot of straight lines, it makes a space look longer or wider to the eye. By running these lines perpendicular to your house, you can actually the space feel wider which is why this paving option is a great choice for smaller gardens.
This pattern is a great balance between a random pattern for a traditional space and making your space feel as large as possible.
Stretcher Course Single Size
This takes the above one step further and means you only use one size of the slab. This repeating pattern is the first of the patterns we have talked about which is probably more suited to a modern space. Modern spaces should stand out from the rest of the area, and by using straight lines and repeating patterns the eye is naturally drawn to the area if it feels “unnatural”. The patterns look like the below:
With a modern space, it doesn’t need to feel natural, it needs to stand out. And with a smaller area, you want to make as much impact as possible with your restricted area and a repeating, single-size stretcher pattern is a great option.
The ultimate impact pattern. Your installer may not thank you, as it’s a very tricky pattern to achieve successfully, but in a small area it’s certainly going to be one of the patterns that creates the biggest impact in the smallest of spaces.
This pattern requires you to use a single size slab, with smaller slabs being preferable. You will recognise the pattern as it was popular in a lot of homes as hard-wood floors – but the same can be done with slabs in a small space:
The repeating pattern here is unique and really stands out. It’s a perfect choice for a modern space and a smaller garden. Your area is going to stand out in spectacular fashion and will be unique in a way that only a few patios are.
This is the pattern for perfectionists. Lots of clean straight lines make your area stand out. This pattern can only be truly perfected with a porcelain tile as it requires precision that cannot usually be achieved with natural stone. Every corner meets 3 other corners and creates a grid effect that can be seen regularly in kitchen and bathroom floors:
If you like clean lines, organisation and structure inside and outside your home, then this could well be the option for you. No pattern is going to feel more organised and if this is something that makes you feel calm, it’s definitely something that’s worth considering.
In Conclusion – Which paving design is right for your small garden?
There are so many options to consider when choosing the right slabs as well as the right laying design or pattern. In a small space, this is especially important because you have a much smaller space to make an impression. Therefore, all the details need to be considered for maximum effect – attention to detail is important here. Don’t neglect to consider the laying pattern, don’t just think about colour and stop there.
We hope this helps you to get the most out of your smaller space. A little consideration can go a long way!