Janine Mendel shares tips on designing a small garden

Janine Mendel small garden design.
Janine Mendel small garden design.

WHEN clients tell Janine Mendel their garden space is tiny and unworkable she replies, “watch this space”.

The Perth author and landscape designer of Cultivart has made a career out of transforming small outdoor areas into beloved, stylish retreats.

Mendel’s home garden is a series of beautiful little courtyards, each with its own distinctive style.

Janine shares her expertise below.

What are your top tips for designing a small garden?

– Select appropriate plants and trees, which look good for as much of the year as possible as they will be on permanent display.

– Don’t fill it with indoor paraphernalia, have a barbecue and stop there.

– Select furniture that sits lightly on the ground so you can see the floor underneath. This makes the space seem larger and lightweight furniture can be moved and adapted easily for entertaining.

– Have an underlying geometry or floor plan and work from here to create the style you want.

What small garden styling trends will be big this year?

– Plants: This may seem like an oxymoron since we all associate gardens with plants, but it seems we have emerged from the recent trend of hard-edged, contemporary landscapes.

– Focus: Move from paving and bulky outdoor kitchens to soft and inviting shades of beautiful plants and trees.

– Style: A new generation of young people are renovating 50s and 60s homes and gardens and so we see a new wave of enthusiasm for mid-century, modern style.

– Materials: Natural materials such as timber and stone, and the desire to create more sustainable landscapes are popular.

– Connection: The Californian Palm Springs modernist landscape links the inside with the outside using concrete flooring.

– Texture: The use of cactus and succulents give an architectural quality, albeit quite hard edges and desert like.

Colour: In Perth, there is a trend of using white with the pops of colour provided by the plants.

 

What trends are you liking and disliking?

I’m loving the return of indoor plants, I was around in the 70s when this was very popular and I see a return of those old-fashioned plants such as Dracaenas and Devil’s Ivy.

I’m also loving the new acceptance of biophilic design reflected in the design of new apartments and residential developments with roof gardens, green walls and plant-filled outdoor entertaining areas.

I’m hoping that McMansions will soon be a thing of the past and replaced with better designed, good quality homes for small sites that allow for a garden to be a vital part of the mix.