8 Patio Design Ideas for Small Gardens

Having a small garden doesn't mean you have to compromise on style and functionality. With some creative thinking and clever design ideas, you can transform your compact outdoor space into a charming and inviting patio. In this blog, we will explore eight patio design ideas specifically tailored for small gardens. Get ready to make the most of your limited space and create a delightful retreat right outside your doorstep.

1. Create Steps and Levels

Creating steps and levels in your small garden patio design adds dimension and visual interest to the space. If your patio is on a slope or has uneven terrain, incorporating steps can help navigate the different levels seamlessly. By using materials that match or complement the rest of your patio, such as stone, brick, or wood, you can create a cohesive look. Additionally, incorporating different levels can define separate areas for lounging, dining, or gardening, making the most of your limited space.

Consider using retaining walls or raised platforms to create these distinct levels. This not only adds functionality but also allows for creative landscaping opportunities, such as incorporating cascading plants or built-in seating. By incorporating steps and levels, you can transform your small garden patio into an engaging and dynamic outdoor living space.

Natural Paving Sawn & Sandblasted Sandstone Premiastone Cornsilk Bullnose Steps

Stonemarket Nordus Gris Slate Bullnose Steps

Marshalls Casarta Slate Silver Grey Bullnsoe Steps

Strata Paving Riven Sandstone Mint Bullnose Steps

2. Optimise Vertical Space

When working with a small garden, utilising vertical space is essential. Install wall-mounted planters or hanging baskets to add greenery without sacrificing floor space. You can also create a vertical garden by attaching planters to trellises or using a living wall system. This not only adds visual interest but also maximises the growing area. Install a plant ladder or create a green wall using climbing plants. By going vertical, you can enjoy a variety of plants while leaving the ground area free for other activities.

Rowlinson Marberry Cascade Planter

Rowlinson Garden Creations Plant Stand

Poppyforge Heritage Pot Stands - Two Tier

Rowlinson Alderley Plant Ladder

3. Compact Furniture

Choose furniture pieces that are proportionate to the size of your patio. Opt for slim, lightweight chairs and tables that can be easily folded or stacked when not in use. Consider multipurpose furniture like a bench with built-in storage or a coffee table with hidden seating underneath. These space-saving options will help you create a functional patio without overwhelming the area. Built-in seating is another excellent way to maximise space in a small garden. Consider installing a built-in bench along a wall or incorporating seating elements into planters or retaining walls. This not only saves space but also provides a cosy and intimate seating area for relaxing or entertaining guests.

Rowlinson Prestbury Lounger Set

Rowlinson Prestbury Corner Dining Set

Rowlinson Bunbury Sofa Set

Rowlinson Prestbury Bistro Set

4. Create Zones

Dividing your patio into distinct zones can make it feel more organised and spacious. Define areas for dining, lounging, and gardening, using different flooring materials, planters, or decorative screens. This creates visual boundaries and adds depth to the space, making it feel larger than it actually is.

5. Use Mirrors & Lighting

Mirrors are a clever trick to create an illusion of space in a small garden. Hang a mirror on a wall or fence to reflect light and visually expand the area. Place it strategically to capture the best views and make your patio feel more open and airy. Use mirrors in conjunction with proper lighting to transform your patio into a magical space, even in the smallest of gardens. Use string lights or fairy lights to add a warm and inviting ambiance. Opt for wall-mounted or pendant lights to save floor space. Incorporate solar-powered or LED lights to create an energy-efficient and eco-friendly lighting scheme.

6. Install a Paving Circle

Using a paving circle in your small garden patio design can add a unique and eye-catching element to the overall aesthetics. A paving circle creates a focal point and brings a sense of symmetry and balance to the space. It can serve as a gathering area, a place to showcase a beautiful centerpiece like a fire pit or a fountain, or even as a platform for outdoor furniture. The circular shape of the paving circle can soften the straight lines and angles typically found in small gardens, creating a more organic and inviting atmosphere. It also provides an opportunity to play with different materials and patterns, allowing you to personalise the design according to your taste and style. Whether you choose natural stone, brick, or decorative pavers, a well-designed paving circle can become a visual anchor and a functional element that adds charm and character to your small garden patio.

Brett Paving Concrete Bronte Weathered Stone Circle Feature

Bowland Stone Stratford Sun Paving Circle Feature

Natural Paving Riven Sandstone Classicstone Harvest

Stonemarket Cintage Manor Compass Paving Circle

7. Add a Burst of Colour

Incorporating patterns and colours can bring life and personality to your patio. Choose vibrant cushions, rugs, or tablecloths to add pops of colour. Experiment with different patterns and textures to create visual interest. Be mindful of the scale of patterns, opting for smaller prints in a small garden to avoid overwhelming the space.

8. Create Shelter

Adding a sheltered area to your small garden patio can greatly enhance its functionality and comfort, allowing you to enjoy your outdoor space even during less favourable weather conditions. Consider incorporating a compact shelter such as a pergola, awning, or retractable canopy. These options provide protection from the elements while still maintaining an open and airy feel. A pergola with a retractable canopy offers versatility, allowing you to enjoy both shade and sunlight as desired. An awning, on the other hand, can be attached to the side of your house or a wall, providing a covered area for seating or dining. Whichever option you choose, ensure that it complements the style of your patio and integrates seamlessly into the overall design. The addition of a sheltered area in your small garden will extend its usability and create a cosy space where you can relax, entertain, and enjoy the outdoors throughout the seasons.

Rowlinson Traditional Pergola

Rowlinson Florence Canopy

Rowlinson Canopy St. Tropez

Rowlinson Canopy Latina Grey


No matter how small your garden is, these eight patio design ideas will help you maximise its potential and create a beautiful outdoor retreat. Remember to optimise vertical space, choose compact furniture, create zones, integrate built-in seating, add a paving circle, use mirrors and lighting strategically and play with patterns and colours. With a little creativity and thoughtful planning, your small patio can become a stylish and functional oasis where you can relax, entertain, and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.

If you have any other ideas and tips for patio areas in small gardens, let us know in the comments below!