SMALL GARDEN DESIGN SYDNEY – Best Small Garden Design Ideas

circular vertical garden green wall

SMALL GARDEN DESIGN SYDNEY – Best Small Garden Design Ideas

By Deb Meyer

By Deb Meyer

Founder & Chief Designer at Vogue & Vine

Small Garden Design Sydney

Best small Garden ideas

We are often asked to design Sydney gardens with limited space.

At Vogue & Vine, we are renowned for taking smaller outdoor spaces and turning them into modern outdoor rooms. 

We have created compact and low maintenance gardens all over Sydney. With more Sydneysiders living in apartments, townhouses and terraces, our gardens are being squeezed into small spaces. 

We see these scaled gardens down gardens as opportunities instead of challenging garden design.

See our best small garden design ideas to create stunning outdoor rooms designed for modern outdoor living.

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Vertical Gardens & Green Walls for Small Gardens

Compact gardens may be short on space – but it doesn’t mean doing without stunning features such as vertical gardens or statement pot plants to create your urban oasis.

Vertical gardens and green walls are a space efficient way to add relaxing greenery to your small garden.

We recommend selecting plants for green vertical gardens based upon the orientation of the wall and how much sunshine it’s exposed to. There are many plant options available including coastal and tropical plants such as ferns and Begonias to create your ideal garden.

Vogue & Vine can help you select the ideal vertical garden including our favourite circular wall garden suitable for residential interiors and exterior living areas.

Privacy Screening for Small Gardens

Privacy screening is one of our most requested features of small garden design in Sydney’s urban areas. 

This could mean covering up an ugly old fence with taller plantings or creating a taller green privacy boundary as a barrier from close neighbours.

We are used to recommending narrow plants such as Slender Weavers Bamboo – which is a non-clumping variety and can grow up to 6-8m tall within 18 months.


tall outdoor leightweight troughs
Parramatta landscape designer

Small Garden Designer Sydney

Your small Sydney garden or compact courtyard shouldn’t feel too shaded – the orientation of the sun should be one of the first design aspects to consider.

Understanding the light and exposure will dictate everything from choice of plants to where they are planted.

We recommend planting the taller plants along the boundary to maximise privacy and minimise loss of light.

Outdoor pots for Small Sydney Gardens

We always try to introduce outdoor pots into our smaller gardens as a way of breaking up the space and introducing variety. We often use modern leightweight pots and troughs for small balcony & courtyard gardens.

When it comes to design – the law of threes applies to outdoor pots. This means we can create interest with pots and plants of different sizes with crisp white pots often being our go to choice for modern courtyards and balconies.

For slightly larger spaces – we mix up our pot selection and often blend the modern with the rustic to give a modern eclectic look.

Using quality potting mix always helps your plants thrive and irrigation helps maintain your garden through the warmer months of the year.

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Best plants for Small Sydney Gardens

Our plant selections are based on the design concept and our horticultural expertise. We do have some design tips to keep your courtyard or balcony looking great across the warmer & cooler seasons.

  • Choose plants that look great all year and work well with each other with similar water and sun requirements.
  • Achieve contrast through different foliage textures, colours of green and with spillover plants inside pots.
  • Larger plants should have the ability to be easily trimmed and pruned so that they don’t overtake the garden and create too much shade.

Entertaining space for small gardens

Sometimes our clients want to jam pack their small Sydney gardens with a large dining table and chairs. The problem is that it overtakes the space and leaves no room for anything else.

Small garden design is all about scale and deciding what to include and what to leave out.

If plants and greenery are high up in your list – then you may need to scale back the furniture. We often reduce the furniture to two comfortable lounge chairs and a side table. 

Once the priorities are set for inclusions and exclusions – make sure that no one piece overtakes the space – this is called harmony of design and is critical for successful small garden design.

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Small balcony garden Designer Sydney - Vogue & Vine Landscape Designers Sydney

Timber screening, decking & paving

When it comes to small garden flooring, we love the look and feel of timber decking or cleanline stone pavers. The choice here will depend on your budget. Smaller garden spaces should minimise the different design elements – so in small spaces we try to only have one flooring medium.

Slimline Slatted timber wall screening can create a stunning effect and make your compact courtyard garden pop. This requires custom carpentry meaning the slatted beauty can come at a cost. An Alternative is to paint your fence a darker colour which will provide a great backdrop to the greenery.

Don't forget the styling

Just when you think you have finished with the flooring, pots and plants – the styling is where the final finishing touches are introduced.

Styling your small courtyard or balcony is where you introduce some indoor/outdoor elements which start to blur the distinction between your indoor living room and your new outdoor space.

Two of our favourite outdoor styling additions are outdoor mirrors and outdoor rugs. Depending on the space – these will convert your garden into a true contemporary outdoor room. 


Small Garden Design Sydney

When designing a small garden in Sydney – we always consider what to leave out rather than what to include.

Being aware of the space restrictions starts with a measurement of the site.

From there we try and include vertical elements first and include boundary privacy planting to outline the area.

Modern pots are essential with a limited selection of plants that work well together based on their texture and colour.

Accent pieces are a must to finish the design such as mirrors and outdoor rugs.

Incorporating some of these tips will help with your best garden design Sydney – for small gardens

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SMALL GARDEN PLANTS SYDNEY – Best Plants for small gardens

Small garden plants Sydney

SMALL GARDEN PLANTS SYDNEY – Best Plants for small gardens

By Deb Meyer

By Deb Meyer

Founder & Chief Designer at Vogue & Vine

Small Garden Plants Sydney

At Vogue & Vine – we design small Sydney gardens and recommend courtyard & balcony garden plants for our clients every week.

There are so many space-effective courtyard plants and balcony garden plants that are both architectural and low maintenance for the warm Sydney climate.

We decided to put this post together featuring some of our best small garden plants for Sydney.

We have broken it down to include courtyard & balcony plants for:

  • Boundary or perimeter plants for privacy, 
  • Plants for outdoor feature pots & troughs
  • Garden beds with limited space 
  • Tropical plant options suitable for feature plants and underplanting.

Best Trees & Screening Plants for small Sydney Gardens

Courtyard Garden Plants Sydney

Bamboo for Privacy screening

Slender Weaver or Bambusa Textilis Gracilis is a non-clumping bamboo and can grow to 6-8 metres within 18 months. Providing a quick privacy screen without taking up much courtyard planting space.

Frangipani Tree

Frangipani - Tropical Feature tree

Frangipani is a perfect tropical feature tree for a small garden. They grow slowly - allowing light through in winter and in full flowery bloom in summer.

Acmena Smithii Sublime

Lilly Pilly Boundary hedging

Lilly Pilly Australis is a perfect hedging plant and is native to Australia.
Features dense growth to the base of the tree and new growth is lime green.

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple Tree

The Japanese Maple is one of our favourite feature trees. Being deciduous, it still lets the light through in winter. Can be shaped for smaller spaces and perfect for Sydney courtyard gardens.

Best small feature plants for Sydney Gardens

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Imperial Bromeliad

There are many different types of Bromeliads available. This is one of our favourites with architectural foliage complemented by a red underside. Loves full sun to part shade and thrives in many compact Sydney gardens.

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Mother in Laws Tongue

What a weird name for a plant - otherwise known as Sansevieria.
The perfect plant for the Sydney climate being low maintenance requiring little water. and perfect in direct sunlight.
We often use this mass planted in troughs or in garden beds.

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Alocasia OR Elephants Ears

Elephants Ears are a fantastic architectural plant and the leaves can grow up to 2m long.
Suitable for larger Sydney courtyards as a statement plant and best suited to part shade conditions.

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For a touch of Arizona or Palm Springs - you can't beat the Euphorbia Cowboy. We have used this cactus in a number of modern courtyards - looking great in feature pots..

Best Tropical Plants for compact Gardens

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Imperial Bromeliad

There are many different types of Bromeliads available. This is one of our favourites with architectural foliage complemented by a red underside. Loves full sun to part shade and thrives in many Sydney courtyard gardens.

Kentia Palms

Kentia Palms

Kentias look great in modern pots or planted in the ground. They work well in bright indirect light and are the perfect Sydney courtyard plant that work well in combination with other ground cover plants.



The perfect undercover plant for all styles of courtyards including the modern tropical look.
Suits shade to part sun and develops a thin purple flower. We often use for mass planting under trees or palms.

Xanadu plant for courtyards

Philodendrun Xanadu

Xanadu is well suited as a feature plant or mass planted underneath a larger tree. Perfect for a semi tropical look and performs well under most conditions including partial sun to full shade.

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