Lewis Hamilton is no stranger to impeccable style – and his design-savvy sensibilities extend far beyond his grace on the Formula One race track and fashion credentials on the red carpet. Hamilton’s balcony garden is a masterclass in maximizing small space.
Yes, even the smallest outdoor space can become a beautifully designed garden. The key is to keep things simple and fuss-free. Limit landscaping materials, such as paving and decking, to no more than a couple of styles and select a pared-down color palette, just as Lewis Hamilton has done below.
Use the concept of the ‘slow reveal’, too. If you can’t see all of your garden at once, it creates a sense of space as you’re not sure what lies around the corner. A comfortable seating spot with a stunning vista, for example, gives a sense of calm and tranquility. This works in even the smallest of balcony spaces. Choose the right plant for the right place, so check how sunny or shady your garden is first. Then take advantage of vertical growing options to make more space for plants. A combination of structural evergreens and seasonal planting works well.
It is all about the smaller details, say garden designers and landscapers.
‘Every garden, no matter how small, can be turned into an asset,’ says John Wyer of Bowles & Wyer, who constructed the medal-winning Florence Nightingale Garden for Chelsea 2021. ‘In a smaller space, every millimeter counts. The garden needs to be practical in terms of how you want to use it, but also think about how it will look from adjacent windows as well as from within the garden itself.’ He also advises against trying to squeeze in too many ideas. Instead, take bold decisions using a ‘less is more’ approach. ‘Decide on a color scheme and stick to it and you’ll naturally have a more cohesive and impactful garden design,’ he says.
‘My focus in small gardens is to organize the space, utilizing levels, framing views, creating social seating options and making every single millimeter work,’ says Mandy Buckland of landscape design company Greencube. ‘Track the sun’s arc to optimize the best spots, screen any view spoilers and create focal points that draw the eye.’
Another wonderful way to enhance a small or balcony garden is with a living wall or vertical garden.
‘A vertical garden makes green space accessible to the masses and as attention continues to turn to where our food comes from, we’re not hugely surprised that people are now thinking about what more their living walls can offer them,’ says Matt Lindsay, general manager at Growing Revolution. ‘With a fixture against an external wall or on a balcony, those in flats and other urban homes can reap the physical, mental and environmental rewards that gardening for production provides.’