Love Your Small Garden Special

Love Your Small Garden Special

Love Your Small Garden is a one off special of Love Your Garden and the first of a second series of Love Your Garden Themed Specials 2021 first shown on 13 July 2021.

The programme features not the usual one but two garden makeovers so the team needs to split into two to complete the gardens.

Alan Titchmarsh guides us through the makeovers with one team of David Domoney and Francis Tophill and the other team made up of Katie Rushworth and making his debut in the team Danny Clarke.

Design Concepts
Alan starts by saying small spaces like balconies, alleyways, roof terraces and courtyards more people are living with small spaces for gardens.

Alan Titchmarsh

Even the smallest garden can be transformed by clever designs and making use of every bit of the garden to make a big impact on our lives.

Alan is revealing the secrets to the perfect small garden.

Living in the city where every outdoor space is a bonus and can be a refuge from Urban Life Alan visits a garden that was designed by Sara Jane Rothwell which is just 3.5 metres wide and 12 metres long.

Alan Titchmarsh

This makes the garden about half the size of the average garden in Great Britain and is so narrow you can nearly touch both fences.

They have used some tricks to make the garden appear bigger like using angled lines to make it look wider and the path zig zags making it take longer to get to your destination.

The plants are right on the edge of the paths with most of the garden being made up of planting giving the garden, colour, scent and interest.

Roses next to Lavender

It has Roses next to Lavender so the scent in summer will fill the garden.

The garden is in full view of the house so they have used evergreens to make it look good all year and they have covered the fences in climbers so the boundaries are blurred.

Alan points out a Trachelospermum Star Jasmine that has completely covered the space so you cannot see the fence behind.

Amelanchier Snowy Mespilus

The end of the garden fence if left just bare would just  define the end of the garden so they have planted an Amelanchier Snowy Mespilus which helps take your line of vision to the trees across the road, extending your perception of the size of the garden.

The garden is by a noisy road and surrounded by houses but they disappear when you are in the garden which envelops you and lifts your spirits.

Alan is at the front door of Charity Worker Maxine from London who works for Kinship and lives with her Niece Faith.


Maxine is very shocked to see Alan Titchmarsh on her doorstep.

Maxine has been a star and inspirational at Kinship Care meetings where she offers guidance and support for others caring for relatives or friends children.

Kinship Carers are people who have taken on full time care for someone else child in the family or for a friend and there are approximately 200,000 children in these circumstances. This is 3 times as many children as there are in Foster Care.

Maxine and Faith

Maxine has looked after her own Niece Faith for 9 years sine she was 1 years old, although her Niece she calls her Mum.

The Garden
They moved into their ground floor flat 2 years ago and as its a terraced property it has a tiny garden.

The Garden

There is a strip of concrete outside the back door and the rest is a tiny strip of grass surrounded by fences and Alan can nearly touch both sides.

Maxine says she has previously only lived in a flat and she no idea what to do with it although it is so small.

The Garden

Next door have a lovely Olive tree and the sun rises at the bottom of the garden, so later in the day the bottom is a sun trap.

Maxine wants a garden they can relax in, Alan says 'some breathing space, a sanctuary'. Maxine agrees.

Alan team of Landscapers start clearing the site and the team tackling this garden make over are David Domoney and Frances Tophill.

Alan design for the 8 x 3 metre garden starts by marking the path of the sun and the place for  a seating area will be right at the end of the garden unaffected by the shadow of the house.

Alan Titchmarsh

To make use of the small space a custom made seating area with planting beds behind is added.

David job is the clever use of hard landscaping materials in the garden to  make it appear bigger!

If you stick to a small pallet of materials like bricks, smooth pavers and gravel to create a path that zig zags and then surrounding it all with greenery.

Alan plan

Frances job will be to make the garden look green vertically as well as in the beds so its green at the sides too.

Alan job is the shady concrete passage into the garden from the back door.

He wants the city garden to transport them somewhere else, to their sanctuary.

A Work in Progress

Frances first job is to replace the perimeter fence and on the side with the olive tree she has put 4 foot high fence so in this small garden it does not feel so fenced in.

Frances and fence

This also means they get a stolen view of the wonderful Olive Tree.

Frances is painting the lower walls of the house.

Now its time for the planting and she starts with the outward planting with some climbers for the fences.

Evergreen Star Jasmine

Climbers in a small space do not take up much floor room and can be trained to be flat to the wall.

Frances is using the Evergreen Star Jasmine which will smell wonderful and she has untangled it and letting it decide what position it wants to be tied to the fence in.


Next she is adding one of the more delicate Clematis unlike a Clematis like Montana which will grow so big and take over, so choose a compact variety that will not make the garden feel smaller and too enclosed.

Frances has found a clever way to get some shade to the sunny end of the garden by using a plant pot, some plumbers pipe, sand and herbs she is making an umbrella stand.

umbrella stand

The herbs will love the drainage and she adds a bit of soil before planting Thyme, Oregano and Parsley in the top before putting the umbrella in the pipe.

Frances adds a mirror in the corner of the shady area which is a good trick to making a small space seem bigger.

David starts with the paving and everything in a small garden needs to be scaled down but it does mean as a smaller job you can probably do it yourself!

David laying pavers

The pavers are cut to just 20cm strips to create the illusion that the garden is wider than it is.

The mix he is using to lay the pavers is 4 parts of builders sand to 1 part cement and by adding the water slowly you can get the ice cream consistency you need.

You then put some mortar where the slab is to go and the pavers he is using need a bit of primer to the underside before laying that you can buy from Builders Merchants.

David laying pavers

He then taps it down to make it level and uses a spirit level to make sure its straight in all directions then it needs 24 hours to set.

Next to the path they are adding raised planter beds made from thick timber sleepers that have a dual purpose as being able to perch on them for seating.

David has started planting out the beds and he says in a small garden the beds have to look their best at all times.


To do this you can put in a lot of evergreens and make them into little hedges around the outside of the borders.

A good shrub for this is slow growing Euonymus you can then use the rest of the bed for Annuals or Herbaceous plants as you will still have lots of green even in the Winter.

placing plants

David asks Alan to help him position the Pittosporums that have been shaped into round and triangular plants.

David is adding gravel to the borders and path and he says its best to vary the sizes for the best effect he has 20ml on the path and 10ml on the border.

Alan now sets to work on the odd bit of garden near the back door, the walls and fence have been painted a very light Mushroom colour, it is full of drains and gets no natural light.

The garden

The solution for this difficult space is to add some containers and he is using a raised trough with a shelf underneath for storage.

To make the best use of the space he is putting in front of the trough a double height shelf unit to put pots on and hide the storage.


He is using evergreen shade loving plants like Ferns, Ivy and white flowered dwarf Choisya then he adds some mixed gravel to cover the concrete floor.

Alan says when he was 10 years old at Christmas he was given a toy model Theatre and he loved the illusion of seeing the backdrop and wings when the curtain was raised.

toy model Theatre

By interrupting your view this gives depth to the stage and he is going to use this in the garden by bringing the sides in bit in stages using planting you have to look and go round things, giving the garden some width and depth. How Theatrical!

Alan is adding the trees for privacy which have to be suitable for a small garden and he is planting Snowy Mespilus, Amelanchier.


It can be classed as a multi stem shrub or small tree and will grow to just 10 feet high.

Alan plants it in the corner at the back to blur the boundary and to the bed by the seating area he is planting an in bloom compact Crab Apple.

Crab Apple trees are very easy to prune in Winter getting rid of any branches that are in the wrong place.

Alan crab apples tree

Alan planting up the raised beds behind the seating area and he says its important to get the right plant in the right place so do your research first.

Alan planting

He is planting a African Lily Agapanthus in the shaded area it would not thrive as it loves the sunny spot he is planting it in.

The final push of adding the finishing touches like cushions and lanterns and the garden is complete.

Grand Reveal

Finished garden

Maxine open your eyes

Finished garden

'Oh my God' 'Oh my gosh' 'Oh my goodness' gasps and' squeals 'WOW how amazing is this'
'Oooooh' 'I feel like I've been transported somewhere else'

The garden is now a pocket sized paradise

Finished garden

A Zigzag walkway

Triangular raised beds 

Finished garden

A secluded seating area surrounded by planting

Faith loves the garden and Maxine's Mum Barbara thinks its 'WOW' they all agree it now looks so much bigger.

Design Concepts
Alan visits a garden thats hidden away behind a terraced street that was designed by Manoj Malde for inspiration for his next small garden makeover.

Alan is stunned by the Mediterranean garden at the 5 x 6 metre plot but it can still entertain a large number of guests.

Manoj Malde garden

Clever seating all around on the edge of the planters and pool and they have added storage under the bench seating.

They have an amazing outdoor kitchen with a worktop on top and cupboards underneath right next to the Bar b Que which merges in with the whole design.

Manoj Malde garden

Down the narrow side passage they have tailor made raised beds with Raspberries and herbs next to a tiny lean to greenhouse.

 This cleverly designed has everything the family need and 'it does it in style'.

Linda Rytterstig knows how to use clever storage in the garden and she has turned her driveway into a garden.

Linda Rytterstig garden

She still has managed to make room for the car, bins, storage and somewhere to sit and relax .

Birdie Hall created an orchard on her balcony as she loves her apple trees and they get plenty of sun.

Anna McCullagh has turned a space which had an outdoor toilet in a void  measuring 4 metres deep into a fantastic outdoor space to enjoy.

living wall

She has added a shade loving living wall which has given it a rain forest feel and created a sanctuary in an otherwise un used space.

The second small garden makeover is for Ian and Megan Robb who live in Herne Bay, Kent with their 3 children Logan, Isla and Hallie. 

Hallie has Osteopetrosis also known as Marble Bone Disease which is a rare life limiting condition which also sadly has made Hallie blind.


Alan for a change goes in the side gate straight into their small garden which is typical of lots of modern new build houses as being very small.

Full of all the usual children's toys, playhouse, play equipment and shed it just feels even smaller.

Ian and Alan

A very surprised Ian notices his famous intruder and stares through the French doors not sure what is going on!

He opens the door and says 'i'm a little surprised to see you in the back garden'.

The Garden
The 4 x 8 metre garden is the only outdoor space for the family of 5!

The Garden

If the family were more tempted to come in the garden it would give them a lot more living space and a safe space for Hallie.

 Ian says that will be 'incredible'.

Hallie is 10 but was born with genetic problems and a condition called Osteopetrosis and has been blind since birth.

Victoria Swan Senior Music Therapist at Demelza Hospice Care for Children explains Hallie condition is a rare life limiting genetic condition but Hallie is so brave, confident and Sassy.


The whole family help care for Hallie and are loving and caring and have done lots of fundraising for the Hospice but it does mean the other children often miss out on days out etc thats why a garden will be so good for them all.

Alan garden design needs to take pressure off the house and to make the garden multi functional to make the most of the space.

Alan is going to do the patio nearest the house and will include an outdoor kitchen, storage and vegetables.


Danny is in charge of he central section of the garden with a lawn and planting beds.

Katie has the challenge of the bottom of the garden to make a structure with an outdoor dining area, a play area plus storage!

Alan wants 'the perfect pocket-sized family garden'.

Alan team of Landscapers start clearing the site and for this small  garden transformation the team is Katie Rushworth and making his Love Your Garden Team debut Danny Clarke.

A Work in Progress

Katie is cracking on with getting the fencing done she is using timber lath and because the posts are hidden behind you get some lovely horizontal lines all throughout the garden.

Katie and Danny

She then paints 95% of the bottom of the fence a dark blue colour which helps make the fence invisible.

For the top of the fence she is adding a light colour band and this will then blend in with the sky and disappear.

Katie moves on to the end of the garden she has already created a storage area with a play area in front and is now starting on the outside dining area.

They have created a wood wall with recesses for storage and a recess area in the middle is going to have open shelves and that is where the dining table is which is also the door.


The door flips down to create the curved dining table and is made from Marine Ply and she is using the table top to make the curve in the playhouse so it matches.

She then cuts out the curve doorway in the playhouse with a jigsaw but Katie not happy as its 'looks like a giant dog kennel'.


She starts cladding the outside in matching baton to the fence and they have matched them identically with the fence so its seamless all the way round the garden.

She will then paint them to match the fence.

sliding door

Katie adds a sliding door to her hidden storage area using a Barn Door sliding fitting you can get on line for around £45.

Danny is starting work on the lawn area and laying grids that you use for driveways down to make the lawn hardwearing enough for Hallie to move around the garden in her wheelchair.


Topsoil is then added to cover the grid and at the end the turf will be laid on the top.

Danny is underplanting the Tree Ferns with some fun but robust planting to withstand a family garden.

Danny is underplanting

He is using a lot of plants to create a jungle effect  like a Pittosporum which has a delicate leaf that is curved at the edge and will need clipping to keep under control.

He also has some Ferns which have 10,000 varieties but he has chosen Polystichum as it mimics the Tree Fern.


Next he has some Heucheras which will cover the ground and for colour he has some bright coloured Geum and the orange looks great next to the dark blue fencing.

Alan show stopper trees have arrived and he back in the garden for their positioning!

He has chosen 3 large but slow growing Tree Ferns and he has Danny digging the holes and filling them in for him whilst Alan steadies the plant!

Alan and Danny

Katie disagrees with the positioning of such a large leafed one by her dining table and playhouse.

Alan explains she worried as when they release the fern top it is going to spring out and be too big.

Danny not happy at the thought of digging yet another hole for the large plant either!

Alan unravels the protective plastic for the grand reveal and.....

Zips it

The verdict is 'you can just walk round it' says Alan, Katie zips it and Danny agrees with Alan just so there is no more digging.

Alan and Danny both agree you have to use bold plants in a small garden and it helps blur the boundaries to be dramatic and bold.

Alan is now working on his masterpiece the multifunctional outdoor Kitchen, storage and planter.

Alan and herbs

He has painted it the same colour as the fencing so it all blends in and plants up the side planter with herbs like Rosemary, Chives, Oregano that you can grab and add to the food cooking on the Bar B Que.

In some planters attached to the wall he is planting Strawberries ready for dessert.

The final push to finish the garden, lawn laid, toys put in handy hidden storage, plants done and Bar B Que set up and the garden is finished.

The Grand Reveal

Finished Garden

Ian and Megan open your eyes

Ian and Megan open your eyes

'Oh my God!' 'Oh' 'Oh WOW' 'Thank you so much' It's incredible.

Megan leads Hallie round her new garden and she feels the new herb planter on the outdoor kitchen 'that is so cool'.

'oh wow thats brilliant' 'thats amazing' as Ian and Megan discover the hidden toy storage.

Finished Garden

Dad tell Hallie about her den and they lead her to it across the firm lawn and she straight in the Den 'really cool' is the verdict.

Ian discovers the hidden shed!

Logan and Isla see their garden for the first time

Logan and Isla

Isla straight in the Den with Hallie 

A multifunctional outdoor room

Finished Garden

Horizontal lined fencing

Finished Garden

Dining area / shed / Playhouse

Tree Ferns and Exotic planting

Finished Garden

Outdoor Kitchen and edible garden with storage

Alan ends the programme by saying just because you have a small garden that you cant make much of a difference but it can make a huge difference for the whole family.

Small gardens have a lot to offer if you know the tricks to improve them

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Design & Construction

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