Outdoor Sculpture for Small Spaces

Tall Nyneve sculpture in a small space

There are no rules for choosing outdoor sculpture for small spaces. An artwork should add to or complement the space or planting around it. And you should like it. And that’s about it. Big can work. So can small. Modern, traditional, in the centre, off to one side, nestled in a border… All can beautify small gardens. What works all depends on the style and layout of the space.

Below, we outline some of the considerations that you can bring to bear on sculpture choice for a smaller space.

Where to put sculpture in small gardens?

When you haven't got a lot of space, finding a spot for outdoor artwork can seem tricky. In fact, there are quit a lot of options.

Filium sphere at the end of a path, vertical sundial on wooden boundary fence, Mimeo water feature nestled in planting, Chalice water feature in circular paving as centrepiece.

Filium garden sphere at the end of a path
Vertical sundial on garden wall
Mimeo water feature nested in planting
Chalice water feature as garden centrepiece

Which size is best for small garden artwork?

Big, as mentioned above, can work. But be reasonable. Michelangelo’s David would look silly towering above a small urban patch.

If you would like a large, impressive piece, consider how a large sculpture would fit into your garden.

A big, solid sculpture placed centrally may block the light or hide too much of the garden beyond. This may not be the case if a sculpture is light and airy. Placing a piece to one side may work better, as in the hero image at the top of this page of Nyneve sculpture in our show garden for the 2018 Chelsea Flower Show. Nyneve is large – 3.5m high and the show garden was not. But positioned to the rear, the sculpture did not block the show garden's overall impact. And it felt completely in proportion surrounded by taller boundary trees and shrubs.

The key size consideration is to ensure that an artwork is proportional to its surrounding. A too small piece in the plant borders may never be found; too big in a low border and a sculpture will tower unpleasantly above its companions.

Conversely, too small a sculpture as a focal point may look underwhelming and even a little bit foolish.

The size needs to be just right – and that is really a matter of judgement.

Large Torus sculpture to one side of a roof terrace, creating a splash without blocking.

Big sculpture on a roof terrace

What style of outdoor sculpture?

Once again, decisions about style need to take garden context into account.

Armillary sphere looking modern, reflections off the stainless steel Steel Breeze merging with planting, Dark Planet sphere in grass, Quiver leaf sculpture fitting in with flowers

Armillary sphere on a hedged plinth
Stainless steel Steel Breeze reflecting back border colours
Dark Planet sphere in grass
Quiver leaf sculpture

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