Top design ideas from the Young Gardeners show gardens

The stunning show gardens built by the students from the Young Gardeners of the Year competition are an inspiration. See the best design ideas from each garden to make the most of small garden spaces.


A good tip for small gardens is to use different levels. It makes the garden appear considerably bigger. You step up into a raised area by the water feature and then down into the sunken seating area.

I loved the lighting and the use of Edison bulbs. It casts a soft, glowing light in certain areas of the garden to highlight features. Plus the striking bulbs and filaments are a feature in themselves.

The students made clever use of black Millboard decking for the walls. Composite decking is made from recycled materials rather than wood, and can last for years. They also built in recesses for lighting and planting, which is a great way to make the most of wall space.

Create drama in a small garden with contrast between light and dark colours. The walls are dark but the path and paving is much lighter.

I also like the water harvesting element. When rainwater falls on the garden, it is collected and works its way around the whole space. It powers water features and fills reservoirs that can be used to water plants. If you want to reduce your dependence on mains water, it’s a great design trick.


This garden featured a lovely covered seating area. The pergola has shutters that you can open and close. This gives you the option of having more shade and shelter, or opening them up to let more light in.

The curved fish tank around the seating area is also a brilliant feature. It’s clever to build it into the seat, and it is lovely to sit there and watch the fish. The use of curves and circles in the garden also helps to prevent the space from becoming too boxy.

The students created striking flooring with sliced sections of wooden logs. You can buy log slices to achieve this look at home if you don’t want to cut them yourself. It looks amazing and continues the circle theme well.

This garden is also great for little features that make a big difference. One is the quirky high heel bird feeders. The food mix is placed in the toe and the back of the shoe protects it from rainfall. They are attached to the wall by the heel – it’s good fun.

Read more Top design ideas from the Young Gardeners show gardens