5 min read

Transform your small outdoor area into a usable space

Practical tips and ideas for maximising your small outdoor space.
By · June 23, 2023
Transform your small outdoor area into a usable space

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The Kiwi home ownership dream is changing, which for some, means saying goodbye to the traditional backyard. For younger generations of New Zealanders, moving out of your childhood home can mean having a smaller outdoor space. If you live in a shared flat, apartment or townhouse, you may have an outdoor space that you don’t know how to get the most out of.

Whether you have a balcony, a paved outdoor courtyard, or a small patio, these spaces are still useful if you know what to do with them. With creativity, thoughtful planning, and a few design tricks, you can transform your small outdoor area into a functional space.

Here are some practical tips and ideas to maximise the potential of your small outdoor space:

Clean Up Your Space

When you live in a small space, such as an apartment or townhouse, the outdoor areas inevitably become dumping grounds for certain items. Before you begin transforming your space, get rid of any items you are permanently storing outside. If you have items you don’t want to get rid of, now is a good time to create a proper storage area for them. If you keep your bike or sports gear outside, think about how you can store them so that they are out of the weather and out of everyone’s way.

Define Your Space’s Purpose

Before making any design decisions, consider how you want to use your outdoor space. Do you envision it as a peaceful reading nook, a place for growing food, or an entertainment area for friends and family? Determining the purpose will guide your choices and help you create a space that aligns with your needs and preferences.

With a small space, you’re more limited in how many different purposes you can achieve. Consider which of your needs are most important so you can focus on one activity or use in this space.

Optimise Seating

In a small outdoor area, space optimisation is crucial. Choose seating options that are compact and versatile. Folding chairs, multi-purpose benches, or even built-in seating with hidden storage can be excellent choices. If your space allows, consider adding a small table or side ledge for convenience. Select weather-resistant furniture that complements the overall style of your outdoor space.

If you have a balcony or small patio, treat it like an extension of your house. Connect the indoor with the out by leaving your slider or door open and creating simple seating right outside the door.

Greenery and Vertical Gardens

You don’t actually need a lot of space to create an outdoor garden. A small balcony or concrete courtyard is big enough. While you may have to be more selective about what fruits, veggies or flowers you grow, there’s also less need for weeding and pest control.

Purchase singular pots to grow your food in. If you have the space, purchase an outdoor planter box. Adding a couple of plant pots for growing brightly coloured flowers is a great way to bring interest to a boring space. Integrating plants and greenery adds life and freshness to any outdoor area. If floor space is limited, think vertically. Hang potted plants from railings or install vertical garden systems. Choose plants that thrive in your specific environment and require minimal maintenance. Herbs, succulents, and dwarf varieties are ideal for compact spaces. Remember to consider sunlight exposure and watering needs when selecting your plants.

Privacy and Shade Solutions

Depending on your outdoor space's location and layout, add elements that give you more privacy and shade. A trellis is a great, affordable alternative to installing outdoor blinds, curtains, or screens. You can even cover them with climbing plants to create a natural barrier. A retractable umbrella is also a great way to add shade without too much expense.


Lighting can transform the ambience of your outdoor space into something much more appealing. String lights, fairy lights, lanterns, and small LED fixtures can create an atmosphere perfect for evenings spent outside. Most outdoor stores sell affordable fairy lights that are suitable for outdoor use, and these are easy to arrange around your balcony or string along the rafters of your verandah.

Clever Storage Solutions

Make the most of your limited space by incorporating smart storage solutions into the furniture. Utilise multifunctional furniture with hidden compartments or shelves to store cushions, gardening tools, or small accessories. Add hanging racks or hooks to store bicycles, gardening equipment, or decorative elements. Maximise vertical space with floating shelves or wall-mounted storage units.

Add Colour and Texture

Injecting colour and texture into your outdoor space can make it immediately more appealing and inviting. Choose a colour scheme that complements your surroundings and reflects your personal style. Incorporate vibrant outdoor cushions, rugs, or decorative elements to add pops of colour and texture. Just remember to select weather-resistant materials to ensure longevity. You can also add planters of colourful flowers to bring a more natural element to your space.

Keep Things Simple

Now that you know what elements to add to your outdoor space, remember to keep things simple. You don’t need lots of seating, accessories or plants to turn your space into a useable area. If your space is small, stick to seating for just two people. Two comfortable chairs decorated with cushions and a small table for drinks have a lot more functionality than an area cluttered with furniture and decorations.

Get outdoor furniture delivered with Wise Move

Buying outdoor furniture for your space? We can help you get it delivered from the store or the seller to your home. Book your furniture move now.

Furniture movers services at low-cost

Budget-friendly moving service trusted by thousands of customers across Auckland and the rest of New Zealand
What are you moving?
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