15 easy affordable ideas for town gardens

Posted By: Alexandra Campbell On: June 17th, 2018 In: Garden trends & design, Town gardens

Do you like your town gardens beautifully designed?

Or do you prefer the upcycled look? Where do you put your veg patch?

It’s always fascinating to see how different town gardens respond to the same soil, architecture and weather.

On the last Sunday of June every year, the town of Faversham runs  The Faversham Open Gardens & Garden Market Day. There are up to 30 gardens open. All the gardens are very different, but they each have ideas that work well in town gardens everywhere.

Here is my pick of the best ideas.

Echo the colour of your front door with planting

Garden maker Posy Gentles, in Newton Road, has just re-painted her front door and windows. That means it’s time for a fresh approach for the pots in the front garden.

Pots by the front door

Coleus and calibrachoa echo the new front door colour and the dark green paint on the brickwork.

Put the veg patch first…

Now that we’ve all stopped thinking about hiding the veg growing area away, it makes sense to put it directly outside the back door. This garden in Norman Road starts with veg beds, opens up into a lawn and has a pretty seating area beyond.

Norman Road in Faversham Open Gardens

Veg before flowers at Norman Road, but the garden is still very pretty.

Or even in the middle of the lawn…

Sarah Langton-Lockton’s beans, kale and lettuce are at the centre of her double-width town garden, breaking up the space.

Veg beds central to the lawn

This garden in Athelstan Road was also open for the NGS a few weeks ago – here’s a post on how Sarah started it from scratch.

Go for a jungle theme…

Well, you saw Monty Don planting an Ethiopian banana palm in his borders at Longmeadow on Gardener’s World, didn’t you?

Exotic plants are back, but for B&B owner, Mary Mackay, they never went away. She’s been planting her small town garden with tropical-looking plants for over twenty years.

A jungle theme works well in town gardens

‘Exotic’ is a good theme for small town gardens because they are usually sheltered. They may even be warmer because of the walls of the centrally heated houses nearby. Even if they’re not, some ‘jungle’ plants are quite hardy. This garden is also in Newton Road.

Here’s a useful post about creating an exotic garden in a cool climate.

Meadows in small town gardens

You don’t have to own a large garden to have a meadow. Julian and Amanda Mannering have a square walled garden. One day a friend suggested they put a meadow in the centre, and they did.

Having a meadow isn’t quite a simple as just stopping mowing the lawn, and it’s taken a few years to get established with ox-eye daisies and other wildflowers. But it wasn’t difficult.

Mown paths for a meadow lawn

The Mannerings in Abbey St have a square of meadow in the centre of their walled town garden. It has a mown path through it.

Paint your fences

The Mannerings have painted their fences – and a bench – in a shade of blue. It was a bit bright when they first put it on, but it’s quickly weathered down and is a charming backdrop for planting.

Paint fences in town gardens

Blue fences make a charming backdrop for planting in Abbey St.

And paint your sheds…

Paint your shed in contrasting colours

Don’t miss this delightful garden in Upper Brents. Photo of contrasting door and shed painted by the owner, Richard Drew.

Stick (almost) to a colour theme

The owner of this beautiful long town garden in Newton Road is Scandinavian, hence her stylish use of white and grey in the garden.

Try bleached tones for your wooden garden furniture

The owner of this garden painted her benches and tables with Wet and Forget, which is actually a moss, mould, lichen and algae treatment. But it gives this lovely faded grey tone to the wood. Links to Amazon are affiliate links which means you can click through to buy. If you do, I may get a small fee, but it won’t affect the price you pay.

Don’t have too many different hard landscaping elements

Town gardens often have alot of different elements. One owner will put in a shed, the next a terrace – and it could all get very muddled.

Sarah Langton-Lockton had old garden walls, a slightly newer brick shed and she bought her own greenhouse half-made of brick. So when it came to the path, she chose brick.

All the bricks are different but they’re still bricks, so the garden feels calm and ordered.

Harmonise hard landscaping materials

Four different eras of brick in just a few square feet. But it doesn’t look messy because it’s all in a brick pattern. It’s about harmony rather than matching.

Furnish your garden for free with Freegle/Freecycle and plant swaps

Lots of surprises lie behind the garden gates in The Knole. It’s one of the modern roads in the west of Faversham, and the gardens around here are new to Faversham Open Gardens this year.

This garden is narrow but stretches out into a marshy wood. The owner managed to source free car tyres for a path, mannequins as garden sculpture and gets many plants from plant swaps.

Find Freegle here – it’s also very good if you’re clearing your house, as people will come and take the items away.

Your local horticultural society will usually do plant swaps. The RHS has a service for finding local gardening groups.

Freegle or Freecycle can make your garden very interesting

This garden is constantly changing, but here is a mannequin acquired via Freegle and several kinds of persicaria.

Use office or industrial items outside

Use office furniture outside

This is office furniture used outside. It’s been fine for many years – if it’s glass or plastic it should weather well. Also in the Knole. More clever use of vintage and upcycled finds in this garden here.

Or adapt charity shop finds…

Charity shop buys in a town garden

Another garden behind a twentieth century newbuild in Ivory Close – the owners volunteer at the Cancer Research charity shop. They adapt their charity shop finds – this is a really unusual and charming garden, and is the furthest out. (near Sainsbury’s). So do make that extra bit of effort to get there!

There are more charity shop finds in this post about the Ivory Close garden.

Make sculpture the focus of a bed

This clever placing of a sculpture makes the most of the shape of the tree. And it distracts from the odd weed, too.

This garden belongs to Colin Rushton in the Mall, is also new this year. It’s a very long, thin town garden, with high historic walls and a wonderful sense of history.

Town garden design ideas

Who cares about the odd strand of bindweed when there is a beautiful old wall and a cleverly placed sculpture?

Support wildlife

This bird feeder cum birdhouse makes a beautiful focal point for Colin Rushton’s terrace. The house is particularly interesting. It was a seventeenth century farmhouse, which was turned into a pub in Georgian times, then given a new front in Victoria’s reign. It was a popular trade union meeting place in the 1950s, and became a private home in the 1960s.

Support wildlife with a beautiful bird feeder

The seventeenth century farm workers slept upstair in the loft, now accessed by the blue door. The greenhouse on the left used to be the pub urinals. A really pretty and interesting house and garden. The dovecote-cum bird feeder is charming.

Place garden pots in beds for definition

This charming narrow town garden in Briton Road belongs to the Foremans. They have used a garden pot as a pond, and also in borders.

Use a pot as a pond

Even a very small water source is valuable to wildlife but don’t forget to make sure it doesn’t dry out in hot weather. In Briton Road

Pots in town gardens

The Foremans have pots in borders – they make brilliant ‘punctuation points’.

A spring/early summer meadow strip

The macLachlans in Abbey St plant bulbs in a strip of lawn down one side of their garden. They let the grass grow long as the bulbs die down.

Around mid-summer, they finally give the strip its first mow, and it then becomes a normal part of the lawn. It’s a nice way of having bulbs in the lawn without getting frustrated by having to let the whole lawn grow out of control.

A spring meadow strip in a town garden

This long grass wias returned to normal lawn soon after this picture was taken. Then it’ll grow long again next spring and early summer.

Try a free-standing arch

OK – so this is a slightly more expensive suggestion than the others. But it looks so pretty and is a great way of dividing up space in a small garden because you can see through it.

A free-standing arch for small town gardens.

This frames the back door and the steps to the terrace. But it’s free-standing – it doesn’t have trellis around it, so it’s a great option for small town gardens. It’s the macLachlan’s garden in Abbey St

Put a roof on a standard wooden pergola

You have to be a bit handy about this one, and also to check that the pergola is sturdy enough.

My brother-in-law spent three days adding a corrugated iron roof to our twenty-five year old pergola to turn it into an all-weather dining area.

It cost around £300 and is a lovely place to eat.

Add a corrugated iron roof to a pergola

Visit my garden (also in the Mall) in Faversham Open Gardens & Garden Market Day.

Shop in markets and fairs

There’s a garden market in the historic Market Place on Faversham Open Gardens & Garden Market Day. There are vintage and second-hand garden items, specialist plants stalls and lots to eat and drink.

Faversham Open Gardens & Garden Market Day

Plant stalls, vintage tool stalls and lots more… in Faversham Market on 24th June.

Entrance to the gardens is by guidebook only. £6 each or two for £10 (with one guidebook and one map). Available from the Faversham Society, 10-13 Preston St, Faversham ME13 8NS or from our Open Gardens stall in the Market Place on 24th June.

Faversham Open Gardens stall

Look for our stall – the market closes at 4pm, but you can leave your plants with our plant creche.

Do come and say hello if you’re visiting my garden, and if you have any good town garden ideas do leave them in the comments below. Thank you!

Three free tickets to the Woburn Abbey Garden Show

Also on the weekend of 23rd and 24th June isNow in its 9th year, the Woburn Abbey Garden Show, sometimes called the ‘Gardeners’ Garden Show’ is just over an hour from London in 42-acres of the Abbey’s beautifully landscaped gardens.

Shopping at the Woburn Abbey Garden Show

The award-winning exhibitors and nurseries have been handpicked by Woburn. The displays are complemented by an array of live entertainment, artisan foods, shopping, demonstrations, informative talks and gardening advice, tips and tours.

Woburn Abbey gardens

Show highlights include Talks and Q&A sessions with BBC Gardeners’ World presenter Adam Frost, BBC Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time panellist Pippa Greenwood and Woburn Estates Gardens Manger and show organiser Martin Towsey.

To win your free tickets, let me know why you would like to win, either in the comments below, on Twitter (to @midsizegarden) or on the Middlesized Garden Facebook page.

More fab town garden ideas from BBC Gardeners World Live!

Pin for reference

17 easy affordable town garden ideas #gardening #gardenideas


10 comments on "15 easy affordable ideas for town gardens"

  1. Oh I bet you can find some gems at the Garden Show! Are there any here in Illinois?

    1. I’m afraid I don’t know about Illinois – sorry about that! But thanks for commenting.

  2. Margaret says:

    Lovely blog, Alexandra with some great ideas. The gardens look lovely , I wish we lived nearer to Faversham , I would so love to visit them.

    1. Perhaps one day! Thank you for commenting.

  3. I’m taking the idea of placing pots in the borders – that sounds like it could make a big difference to the look giving different heights and also make the paved areas less cluttered. If. I am sure the pot is in its final place, I might knock the bottom out so the plants can go deeper into the soil. I shall see. A great idea from a blog ful of them.

    1. That’s a good idea. Though be careful if it’s a china or terracotta one, you don’t want to get cut!

  4. Jan O'Donnell says:

    This was really interesting to read. I’ve never used Freegle before and I’ll be having a look on there from now on. Some great garden ideas in this blog to think about. Thank you

    1. Thank you! I’ve found Freegle very useful for clearing out things.

  5. Linda Casper says:

    Some great ideas there without costing a fortune. I always look forward to your blog.

    1. Thank you. I checked your http://gardenersfridayforum.blogspot.com/ link in your comment, and it had a 404 error message on it, so I have added it in this reply, as it looks interesting. Thought I’d mention it in case you’ve had the problem before, although it may be something to do with how wordpress and blogspot talk to each other.

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