How to Design a Small Hobby Garden


This little garden is certainly more of a hobby garden than it is a family one. The patio area is relatively small and would not accommodate many chairs or sun-loungers. Paving is likely to be natural stone in a random rectangular or perhaps crazy paving style, and ideally it should match the colour of the rockery stone. If the rockery stone is dark grey, then modern or old-fashioned grey setts might fit in quite well. These could be of natural stone or made from concrete and laid to a rectangular or square pattern. Plain square or rectangular concrete slabs would probably look too harsh and modern in this garden. The rocks will be holding back much of the soil and forming all but the topmost terrace. Walls will have to be used down each side against the neighbours’ boundaries and at the top of the garden. Where these are unlikely to be seen they could be of concrete blocks, but the one at the top of the garden would probably be of stone. Large pieces of rock are more effective than small ones and it would be very important to ensure that all the strata (lines of weakness in rocks) face the same way. Rock outcrops with a general angle and slight backward lean look more impressive than if they are built parallel to the house and bolt upright. An alpine enthusiast is likely to want special ‘nooks and crannies’ for various specific plants and these can be borne in mind when the rocks are being arranged.

Small Hobby Garden

For the most realistic effect, rocks should go right down below the water’s surface in the pond. Reinforced concrete or moulded fibreglass is more practical than a flexible liner like butyl rubber. I have positioned the cascade so that it is visible from all the downstairs windows of the house. This is fed by a small stream (or underground pipe) which flows from the higher pool. A submersible pump would have to be housed in the bottom pool and the water pumped up to the top pool through a pipe.

The stone steps lead to another terrace which has a small lawn. The path is likely to be stone (crazy) paving in the same colour as everything else. A mixture of shrubs and climbers hide the side walls and fences, while clusters of rocks in the two opposite corners keep an informal theme going. Once again, rocks should go right down into the pool. The stone in the upper retaining wall should match the rockery stone. A gradual change from pure chunks of rock to walling stone, so that a wall emerges from the rocky outcrop, can look very effective. Both flights of steps can be formed from very rough walling stone, more akin to rockery stone, with crevice plants or moss to soften the effect.

The use of one or two small specimen trees like weeping cherry, weeping birch or Japanese maple, together with some medium-sized conifers, will give some height to the corners and around the edges of the garden. It is often best, in a small garden, to keep the central area fairly free from tall plants. The small lawn right at the top of the garden is really no more than a junction between the shed and the top step. Some stepping stones would help to reduce wear and tear and it might be more practical to have it all paved. Alternatively, it could be a mixture of grass and chamomile or grass and alpine bulbs. Most of the planting up here would be devoted to screening the fences and the shed. Shrubs like pyracantha and garrya are useful where space is limited because they can be trimmed back somewhat. Vitis coig-netiae or Polygonum baldschuanicum would be ideal for covering the shed.

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About the Author: Greenery always attracts Arthur Kunkle. He has a big garden where he plants many fruits and vegetables. His passion for gardening motivates him to write and share different tips on gardening.

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