Almost all Amateur radio antennas for HF and VHF are a compromise. Commercial HF stations are built on or supported by high towers and sited in open fields; even local radio stations aspire to install antenmas at near-ideal sites. In a domestic home environment one is contrained Space and height restrictions limit the scope for making big antennas for the lower HF bands. For many 160m is just not accessible. Even with the space available, nearby buildings will contort the radiation pattern.
This depends on the available space. Most UK gardens would struggle to accommodate an 80m horizontal dipole – about 130feet long and ideally sixty feet up. One way round this is to use inductive ‘traps’ which shorten the physical length but maintain the electrical length. A 40 meter dipole is still some 60 feet long but worth considering as 40m is mostly open throughout 24 hours.
There are many alternatives to dipoles; some commercial models make all sorts of claims but to me, much of it is hype, and they rarely stand up to proper laboratory scrutiny. Often in-efficient and inherently poor radiators these should be avoided. That said I have been pleasantly surprised with one or two models which work very well when the conditions allow. If you have a really small garden, a vertical is perhaps worth considering and probably your only option for HF. For the higher bands, towers are needed really, and planning consent may be needed.
Currentlly M0PBZ uses a 130′ doublet antenna, about 10m above ground and running East/West. I’d say that this is the most sucessful antenna to date: it is not resonant so the impedance varies wildly. As with all doublets, you need a good ATU and although I really don’t have the best ATU on the market, I can match mine for all the HF bands 160m.
Making a wire antenna is a simple exercise and it’s probably within the scope of most radio amateurs except perhaps the disabled. The hardest bit is supporting and erecting it and this should be done with the help of others and/or an aerial contractor if necessary.
It may be that you cannot practically accommodate an HF antenna. Rather than give up, I’d suggest teaming up with others and going portable. In the right location very large temporary antennas could be used – both wire types and verticals