small gardens

5 Great Landscaping Ideas.

Landscaping ideas from the worlds best landscapers are on display annually at Chelsea near London.

The annual Royal Horticultural Society flower show in the south grounds of the Royal Chelsea hospital could be the most famous flower show in the world. Of course, there is much more to see than flowers. The quality and attention to detail of these gardens is amazing.

Landscaping Construction such as paving and wall construction was a strong garden theme throughout the show. Over 150,000 visitors during the 5 days, and daily prime time television coverage. The flower show provides huge exposure for the landscape designers, plant nurseries, industry suppliers and some trending landscaping ideas.

“Space to Grow” Garden Themes. Landscaping Ideas for small gardens.

This year’s flower show featured 26 amazing garden themes and landscaping ideas, including a garden theme, “Space to Grow” gardens. This new garden theme aimed at creating landscaping ideas and inspiring gardeners to “transform their urban, compact or unusual spaces”. The Chelsea flower and garden shows off all the latest landscaping ideas, garden themes and excellently executed construction by some of the best Landscapers and Landscape designers in the world. On display there were many great ideas for small gardens.

Although, the landscaping constructions at Chelsea have an enormous budget, there are many design ideas that the average gardener can incorporate into their own garden. The eight gardens in this “Space to Grow” theme were certainly inspirational.

Landscaping Ideas Chelsea Flower Show

Urban Flow Garden Designed by Tony Woods. Gold Medal and Category winner. Salvias, euphorbias, astrantias, lupins and iris are used in the garden while the leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree cast beautiful shadows


Landscaping Ideas Chelsea Flower Show Outdoor Kitchen ideas.

Landscaping Ideas Chelsea Flower Show Outdoor Kitchen ideas.

Landscaping Ideas – Outdoor kitchen and vertical gardens.

Outdoor kitchen and vertical gardens were on display in the Urban Flow Garden. Having a vertical garden covering a wall with fresh herbs and lettuce right next to the outdoor kitchen was a great idea. This would be a fantastic landscaping idea for our Melbourne outdoor lifestyle.


Landscaping Ideas - Colourful garden.

Landscaping Construction

These gardens are enormous accomplishes for the landscape designers, horticulturalists and the landscape construction companies. Building these gardens and creating unique structures in a number of weeks requires great skills in the landscape design and construction industry. The hardscaping elements such as paving, retaining walls from brick, block and rock, lighting, outdoor entertaining and feature ponds had no expense spared. The plant placement and planting, right down to the spread of mulch were not left to last minute either, time and care went into the presentation of these beautiful gardens.

For many of these gardens, the designers visit plant wholesalers all over Europe to hand select plants for the show. Three batches of plants are ordered to ensure flowering at the right time for the show. The cold snaps in the European spring, including the beast from the east, has made it especially difficult this year. The estimated landscaping cost of creating these gardens range from $500,000 to $1,800,000 Australian dollars.

Landscaping Ideas - Chelsea Flower Show. Welcome to Yorkshire garden.

Landscaping Ideas – Chelsea Flower Show. Welcome to Yorkshire garden.


Multi award winner Mark Gregory wins the Peoples choice award for his "Welcome to Yorkshire Garden".

Multi award winner Mark Gregory wins the Peoples choice award for his “Welcome to Yorkshire Garden”.

The Artisan Gardens – Landscaping ideas for smaller gardens.

On a smaller scale to the Show gardens, are the Artisan Gardens. These are smaller plots showcasing the design and build skills of master craftsmen and master craftswomen. Traditional hard landscaping skills are on display in these gardens. The 2018 show featured 8 of these inspirational gardens each with an underlying theme.

The Great Pavilion – Flowers and Plants from around the world.

The great pavilion features stands from the best plant nurseries from Britain and around the world. There are also floristry exhibits, science and education exhibits. In the center of the pavilion, the Royal Horticultural Society had their “RHS Experience” center. This included the opportunity for visitors to get free horticulture advice from gardening experts.

Amongst the specialist plant nurseries were Hardy Eucalyptus who have been growing eucalyptus trees in the UK since 2000 and are now the UK’s largest supplier of Eucalypt trees.

They have a great passion for the Gum tree, and are able to help with advice on the selection, planting and care of your eucalypt. Another plant nursery with some Australian plants was Kells Bay from the stunningly beautiful Ring of Kerry in Ireland.

Landscaping Ideas - Chelsea Flower Show

Judging the Gardens

The gardens are judged by a panel of highly experienced judges and the medals are awarded corresponding four different levels. The Gold medal, the Silver-Gilt medal, the Silver medal and the Bronze medal. In addition to the medals, special awards are given for Best Show Garden, Best Artisan Garden, and Best “Space to Grow” garden. Show gardens are judged on the delivery of the client’s design brief. The judges consider if the imagined client would be happy with the outcome, and if the garden design objective have been met.
Additional judging criteria is as follows;

  • Design;
    • How original is the garden design?
    • Does the layout of the garden work for its supposed purpose?
  • Overall impression;
    • Is the choice of materials aesthetically pleasing and does it complement the garden?
    • Does the garden work as a whole?
  • Planting;
    • Are the plant associations shown in the garden correct according to species and cultural relevance?
    • Does the planting work together visually to create impact?
  • Construction – A superb finish and attention to detail are expected across the whole garden;
    • What standard is the build quality?

Conceptual gardens are also judged on;

  • Concept;
    • To what extent has the theme/message/concept been realised.

In addition to these awards the BBC also a people choice award for each category.

Garden Trends and Landscaping ideas.

The emerging trends and landscaping ideas that can been seen in these photos include rich, earthy colours such as rusty steels, walls of dry stone, rammed earth and terracotta. Sarah Price’s garden below, inspired by Monet, contains many drought tolerant plants. This is why the mediterranean look is popular with many Melbourne landscapers.


There is also the use of naturalistic concrete in various shades of grey with an almost brutalistic touch in some of the other gardens.

Landscaping Ideas - Chelsea Flower Show


Landscaping Ideas - Chelsea Flower Show


In landscape construction there is also the use of natural wood colours, mixed colour plantings including blues, pinks, reds, purples and especially yellows and creams. Also prominent were vertical gardens, especially edible and herb gardens. One very common garden theme is the use of water in tranquil garden ponds, flowing streams or fountains and other water features.
These were very low maintenance gardens in that respect. Even the border hedges were not as tightly trimmed as you might expect with the typical English or European Garden design. There were many gardens with Eco-friendly landscape design ideas. The green roof below is an exceptional example. Another common theme was the use of rocks and existing land contours to create contrast and illusions in the garden.

Landscaping Ideas - Chelsea Flower Show

If you are planning a trip to the UK, we recommend including this flower show in your itinerary as the photographs don’t really do these gardens and landscape ideas justice. These gardens provide amazing landscaping ideas and give you great insight into the latest landscaping trends.

Contact us

For help with the design  and development or your landscaping ideas, contact one of our experienced Landscape Gardeners.

We can help with small garden design all the way up to  Commercial Landscape design.

Our specialities include fast growing screening plants, plant health and horticulture, garden lighting  and outdoor pool landscaping ideas.


For some more Landscaping ideas from Red’s Landscaping

Gardening Ideas From The Chelsea Flower Show


New Home Construction Landscaping


Japanese Landscape – Kew Gardens


Mediterranean garden design

Melbourne International Flower Garden Show



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5 Small Garden Design Ideas for Melbourne

A Small garden  can be a design challenge for even experienced landscape designers. If you are living in a Melbourne townhouse with a small backyard, and you might be thinking about what can be achieved in such a small space. Designing a garden for a small space in your Melbourne front yard or backyard can present some unique problems for the home gardener. Not least amongst these problems can be the lack of direct sunlight. Some similar design philosophies to large garden design can be followed, but there is more to it than just scaling everything down.

A fountain as a small garden focal point

A Fountain is a great focal point for a small inner city garden. The trickle of the water helps to disguise any traffic noises. The flow of the water catches the eye and has a calming effect. A fountain like this one produces even more calming background noise. It is also a great way for birds and other wildlife to get a drink after a day under the hot Melbourne sun.

Small Garden Focal Points

As with large gardens the logical first step with your tiny garden is to decide on the focal point or focal points of your garden. This can be a small tree in a pot or in the ground, a piece of sculpture , a small water feature or even a rock. A great focal point for the compact garden is a xanthorrhoea johnsonii. Once the focal point is decided upon, it can be made to stand out by some clearing around it and with some garden illumination.


Small Garden Design Focal point
A path of lawn pavers will draw your eye to the garden focal point.

A Path for a small garden

A path leading to the focal point will draw your eye to the feature. If your house has nearby windows, try to place the focal point where it can be seen out of the window. Consider how your garden will look from other vistas as well. Think about the views from other windows and any pathways. Less desirable views can be screened out with hedging plants or screening plants creating the illusion of depth. Walls and fences can be made more attractive with an espalier fruit tree screen or a vertical garden. If you have a views of nearby trees or parkland, work with these views to enhance the view from your own garden.

White Crepe Myrtle as a focal point in a courtyard. Small Garden Design

White Crepe Myrtle as a focal point in a courtyard. Small Garden Design.

Small Garden Plant Selection

Select plants that attract native birds and other native fauna into your garden. This will certainly add to the interest in your garden. Aim to create contrast and balance in your plantings making use of foliage textures and colours but avoid having too many different plants or themes. By repeating shapes colours and shapes your garden you will develop a central theme. Choose species and varieties that are low maintenance and do not grow too large.

Garden Layering for a small garden

Starting with your focal point or tallest shrub use the design concept of layering to plan out your  garden plantings. Proper layering will ensure each plant in the layering scheme has adequate light and add to the illusion of depth. If you are planning a garden against a hedge or a boundary, place the taller plants at the back. Unless you are building a hedge, use trees and shrubs of varying height in the back row. This way you will create a much more interesting garden that takes your eye along different levels.


Plan the plant heights to create a layered effect. Make use of plant foliage to create colour contrasts. Make trees in neighbouring gardens part of the view.

Plants to consider for the garden focal point include magnolia grandiflora ‘teddy bear’ and magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’ and the crepe myrtle. These can either be planted in a large pot, with colourful annuals, or in the ground.

Magnolia grandiflora “little gem” Creates a focal point in a large pot.Using large leaf trees in the foreground and small leaf trees in the background will make your garden appear larger.

Low maintenance small gardens

For the bottom layer of your tiered garden, a ground cover like creeping boobialla is an excellent choice for attracting birds and suppressing weeds.

Creeping Boobialla (Myoporum parvifolium) are very effective at suppressing weeds

It is often the case with the small garden that regular maintenance tasks like mowing and edging the lawn become a real difficulty. Two native sustainable alternatives to lawn grasses are Dichondra repens and the Native Violet Viola hederacea. This will save a lot of effort getting the lawn mower out as neither of these require regular mowing.

Dichondra repens is a low growing plant that is an alternative to grass.

Other plants to consider for the bottom layer include Lomandra hystrix , Lomandra longifolia and Lomandra seascape. These hardy grass like plants are well suited to Melbourne. Their tolerance of coastal sea breezes and their ability to tolerate full sun and part shade as well as a variety of soils. The species of lomandra with the blue green foliage, Lomandra Seascape, will create an interesting colour contrast in your garden.


Native grasses with Blue Green Foliage like this Lomandra Seascape are ideal for event tiny gardens.

Sago Palm

For the levels or layers in-between consider using Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta), if you have enough room. It will grow in part shade or full sun and will tolerate some salt spray if you are right on the coast. Although it can eventually get to two metres tall it is very slow growing. Growing it in a pot will limit its height.

Cycads like the Cycas revoluta or Sago Palm, create an exotic look in your  garden.
Cycads like the Cycas revoluta or Sago Palm, create an exotic look in your  garden.

Native Rosemary

Another choice for the small  garden is the Coastal or Native Rosemary (Westringia fruticosa). This plant is native to the sandy and coastal areas of NSW even growing down to beach level. This versatile plant can be either be grown as a tree, as a hedge, or even as a prostrate ground cover plant. For best results trim it regularly to achieve the shape you want. Other species that should be considered is the melaleuca, and the banksia robur.


Westringia fruticosa or native rosemary is an ideal plant for the Melbourne small garden. Plants with fine leaves make your garden appear larger.Westringia fruticosa or native rosemary is an ideal plant for the Melbourne garden. Plants with fine leaves make your garden appear larger.

Add a splash of Colour in the small garden


Now you have planned your garden focal point, and vistas and various layers, it is time to add a few extra splashes of colour. This can done with annuals in pots or by planting plants like the Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae). This plant is tolerant of partial shade and it can also cope with the wind, salt and sandy soils of the Melbourne. Its stunningly beautiful orange and blue flowers will stand out against the layered foliage backdrop you have created behind.

Strelitzia reginae or Bird of Paradise will add a splash of colour to your small garden.
Strelitzia reginae or Bird of Paradise will add a splash of colour to your garden.

One trick for the small garden is to pick a colour theme from inside the home and carry this them out into the garden. This can also be part of the colour scheme for climbing plants  on a pergola or fence. The same can be applied to potted plants under the  verandah or near the door.


Window Boxes and Hanging Baskets.

Additional colour can be added to your garden with window boxes and hanging baskets. These use very little space and can be used on balconies and patios.

Hanging baskets can be used to add colour to a small garden and to screen out unwanted views.
Hanging baskets can be used to add colour to a garden and to screen out unwanted views.

A Pergola and garden Path to create vertical interest in your Melbourne Small Garden.

If you still have room in your  garden, a structure like a pergola could be considered and another trick you can use is to to create curved garden pathways using a light coloured gravel or stone path. Using light coloured paving or fine gravels along with fine leaf plants in your garden will help to create the illusion of extra space.

More home garden landscape gardening ideas from Red’s Landscaping.

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