Garden Wars – The Small Garden Debate

June 4, 2016

There is nothing like the words ‘our garden’ that send me into a high speed downward spiral of despair. The best way I can describe it is an intense feeling of frustration, and like a threenager, I feel a mummy tantrum coming on at the hint of it. I am not talking about a bit of sulky pants… but rather the urge to throw myself into the first muddy puddle I see and thrash about screeching like a fat little hippo, because, no matter how I look at ‘our garden’ to me it’s way too small and quite frankly utterly sh*t. I like to call any argument discussion about this subject ‘the Garden Wars’, because our small garden debate never gets resolved.


Garden Wars – The Small Garden Debate


It’s a very touchy subject.



A concrete patch is not garden

When we first bought our house way before Little Button came along, I just wasn’t sure I could deal with a concrete patch the size of a postage stamp for a garden. Throw in the idea of a little one and I just couldn’t see how it would work at all. Mr Button was quite sure that we wouldn’t stay for more than a few years at the most… so I gave in. Except it’s been 5 years and yes, we are still here. ‘But its London’, Mr Button reasons calmly whilst digging his heels in against any talk about moving. But there is no reasoning for me. Yes, our house might be wonderful, but I feel years of wasted lush green garden time slipping away and nothing can console me.



Is a garden really that important?

For me… yes it is. My childhood was full of garden parties, den building, mud pies, swings and balmy evenings lounging on the soft grass star gazing. It was a place to exhale, to breathe and just to be. Is it possible to recreate the magic on a slab of concrete? It breaks my heart to tell Little Button that we can’t get a swing set or gorgeous playhouse with all the trimmings because it just won’t fit in our garden, no matter how much I want it to. I even subconsciously go as far as dreaming that we have bought up our neighbour’s gardens and joined them together to create a bit of green. It really is that darn important to me.


Garden Wars – The Small Garden Debate


So instead, I make sure that we whisk Little Button out and about as much as possible. Making the most of any clear sky we go searching for playgrounds and outdoorsy things to do every weekend. She thinks our garden is boring, and would much prefer to visit Nanny and Grandad’s to enjoy their beautiful outdoor space. Our pokey dot of concrete has become a spare part. There, but not enjoyed by anyone.



Do you want to be friends small garden?

Then I saw this and felt ashamed of myself.


Garden Wars – The Small Garden Debate



I now realise that I have been hiding away from our garden and pretending it wasn’t ours. A quick flick through our photos confirm that it barely gets a look in. Browsing Right Move for a new garden… I mean house… isn’t going to make the most of today, it’s just going to make it slip away faster and leave me feeling all knotted up about something I can’t immediately change.


Garden Wars – The Small Garden Debate


Right there are then I decided that I had to make friends with it, because without taking ownership, I will never truly be able to see what its potential could be. Now I am not saying it’s going to be easy, I don’t think we will ever be best buds or anything… but I am going to try.



Are you a proud owner of a lush grassy garden or a pokey dot of concrete like me? If you happen to be an owner of said postage stamp, did you find a way to really make the most of the space?

If you enjoy reading the Button blog, we would love your nomination for the best writer category

in the Mumsnet Blogging Awards 2016. Thank you xx


This post is linked to
Reflections From Me
3 Little Buttons
Rhyming with Wine

21 responses to “Garden Wars – The Small Garden Debate”

  1. Kaye says:

    I agree that a garden is important, you’ve reminded me to appreciate ours a bit more. We’re lucky to have one yet it’s full of old toys and crap right now. My friend has a small garden that’s not very use able but also tries to get her lite girl out when she can. #ToddlerApprovedTuesday

  2. I can totally understand your point of view; I agree a garden is hugely important, and it makes many happy memories as kids But good on you for realising that you need to make your peace with what you have and make the best of it. I bet there’s loads you can do to make it your own. Look forward to hearing what you do. xx #DreamTeam

  3. I have mixed feelings about this. I love greenery, and I need it around me. I have plants inside too as it makes my home fresher, but when I was pregnant I was obsessed with having a garden and was looking forward to Aspen playing outside. We eventually had the most beautiful cubby house with furniture and an outdoor cafe, she had a sandpit and even a fairy garden, oh and swings, but she never liked playing out there!!!! Seriously we had this massive backyard and it wasn’t used. Then we moved and by this time had 3 kids, the thing they used the most was a trampoline. I have found that sometimes what we wish for and then we get doesn’t turn out the way we thought it would, does that make sense? I think you are lucky to live in London and if you have the opportunity for parks then use them as much as you can. I think if I had a concert square I would cover it in pot plants and put some little plants inside the house as well. Make it as green and pretty as possible. #dreamteam

  4. Jasmine says:

    I completely get where you are coming from, gardens have always been an extension of out house. My garden is pokey, the other half wanted to patio all of it because trying to maintain the grass is too hard work! But nooo! I wanted so grass for the little one to play on.
    I don’t mind my little garden now, I guess you have to make the most of any outside space you’ve got. Gt on pinterest!

  5. emma says:

    aww I feel your pain. we have a good sized garden for the estate we are on at the moment. and I love our little green space. id feel the same as you. can you try and make it pretty tough, using lights and maybe some climbing plants? #DreamTeam

  6. Sadie says:

    Don’t hate me but I have a pretty good sized green-grassed garden (considering its London) and at first it was a novelty but recently it’s been a bit neglected! I’m hoping summer and a baby on the move pushes me to get back out there and make it mine again. I hope you and your garden become best buds again too. #dreamteam

  7. I love a garden, it never used to be top of my priority list but it is now. You can do so much with a tiny space though! Check out IKEA or something (I love IKEA, sorry) because they have some great ideas for little spaces including planters that go up/against the wall and so you can have some beautiful flowers in them to brighten up the space. #DreamTeam

  8. I feel your pain after living in a flat with a teeny tiny patio and bit of grass until the little lady was one and feeling desperate for some properly greenery of our own. Finally we bought our own house last year with a proper garden just the right size for a family – not too big, not too small and I have loved having it ever since and will make the most of any opportunity to get out there. I think its great that you’re going to see how you can work with it, I guess there will always be trade offs where a house is concerned.. Good luck lovely! Emily #DreamTeam

  9. I think having a garden is important and a great learning experience for children. We are in the process of attempting to start one. I’m not much of a green thumb so wish me luck! #DreamTeam

  10. Blabbermama says:

    I have a reasonable size garden, and whilst it’s nice to have some ground out the back of the house, and no doubt when my Little Lord grows and can play and enjoy the garden it will be even better, but at the moment, it’s just a place where my dogs can wreck, and cause havoc! I often say I wish it was smaller, as it takes quite a lot of maintenance, but reading your post I’ve learnt to appreciate what we have. #dreamteam

  11. In Holland land is expensive and in big demand so we have tiny gardens or slabs of concrete like inner London. But with some decking potted plants and comfy furniture we have made a lovely outdoor space so it can be done. Go for it!

  12. Are we actually living the same life? We live in a three storey town house which is great for space inside, but we underestimated how much we would need/want a decent size garden as the kids got older. Ours is pretty teeny, and what makes it worse is that it is on the ground floor (obvs) but our kitchen and lounge are on the 1st floor, and so in order to let nip out to play in the garden we have to prepare for an expedition – like pack a bag with juice and nappies and everything! I have therefore neglected my small patch of turf until this year. This year we have made our peace with the fact that we aren’t moving any time soon and so we’ve hit the garden centres. Bit of trellis, a few pretty hanging hearts, a few pots and plants, and a couple of little stone dragons. We now have quite a cute little piece of the planet that makes it worth the expedition! Hope that you get to enjoy your space too lovely. Thanks for hosting #DreamTeam x

  13. Funnily enough I have been thinking about our garden this week. It’s a good size, not totally baby proof but useable, but it’s been rather neglected since we had Freddie and needs some proper weeding! Hoping to get on at it this weekend #dreamteam

  14. claire says:

    I get garden envy too sometimes but it’s all about making the most of what you have until it’s a deal-breaker then making what you want happen, however long that takes. Life is always enhanced when there is something to strive for. I love that Julia Donaldson book “A squash and a squeeze”. I used to live in a tiny tiny flat and get so frustrated with it but I took heart from that book every time I read it to my son.

  15. Our house doesn’t have a bathtub. We may have a lovely yard in a school district but we have no tub, that used to bother me so because, our daughter never got those tub moments, but she got lots of shower moments, and I loved taking a shower with her, holding her close when she was little, a moment I wouldn’t have had if we have a tub! #DreamTeam

  16. I love this post – it’s all so true. Firstly I absolutely LOVE our garden, so I really sympathise with you and your concrete patch! When you talk about taking ownership of something, this is such a good point. The more we put into things, the more we get out. So I really hope that you and the concrete can become friends! I also liked your point about dreaming that the neighbour’s gardens are partly yours. I’ve dreamt similar dreams in the past. Good luck and a lovely post, with amazing illustrations, as always. Alison x #DreamTeam

  17. Trying to find the positives in what you have is a good move although I can definitely sympathise with your longing for a lush green garden rather than a concrete square. Maybe some pots will help brighten it up – and you could have the fun of planting things in them together instead? We have a reasonable sized garden but it is a bit of a jungle and our attempts to transform it are very slow-going (neither of us being completely green-fingered). I do often find myself dreaming of having a fabulous garden but am not very good at putting the effort required to get it that way. Like you, I tend to go in search of other green space to enjoy instead!

  18. Yep, join the postage stamp brigade! Well actually it’s not a bad size but it IS concrete. While I wasn’t in love with it when we moved here, and while we can’t justify stretching to sprucing it up just yet, our little girl (6) has made it her own. We’ve made flower gardens, insect hotels, played games, taken her easel out and used our imagination. In fact it’s turned itself into a bit of a natural haven and I’ve embraced that! Thanks for hosting #DreamTeam

  19. shoeboxofm says:

    When we lived in London we had a poky strip of concrete. We tried brightening it up with some planters and vegetables but it was next to the South Circular it just got filled with litter and anything of even marginal worth got stolen even an opened bag of manure.


    I’m not helping here…

  20. I wish we had a garden, any size at all. We live in an apartment and well, that just doesn;t happen. Someday! A girl can dream! Lovely post! #mg

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