Outdoor March 5, 2020

Design tricks to make your garden look bigger


Design tricks to make your garden look bigger

It's the season for garden makeovers and fresh flower planting. Make the most of your precious little garden.


Plan the space

Treat your garden like an outdoor room. Plan the colour at ground level, walls, decoration and furnishings. Don’t start planting until you have a complete picture of what goes where.


Bright bold foreground

Don’t focus only on small plants or you’ll end up with a miniature garden. Closest to the line of sight, cluster bright bold flowers for an instant hit of colour.


Creating garden perspective

Keep the smaller plants and delicate colours for the far end of the garden. This really does trick the eye into seeing more distance than is actually there.


Add a dimension

Create space by adding the dimension of height. If there are no walls, create them with trellis or fencing, and paint the surface a light colour to reflect as much light as possible.


The garden path

Make your path at an angle or curve; a straight line will shorten the space, but any curved shape will add new perspective and give a rounded, softer feel to your route through the space.


Foliage background

Don’t concentrate only on flowering plants or your small garden will look like a florist’s shop. Plan some architectural fixed points with large foliage plants like bamboo for height and euphorbia for texture and subtle colour.


Layer the planting

You can make your space multi-task by layering slender shrubs like Japanese maple for height, tall ornamental grasses and airy flowers like delphinium or cosmos at medium level and mound-forming alpine flowers like speedwell or phlox near the ground.


Furnish to scale

Every garden, even the tiniest, needs furnishing. Keep benches small but large enough to relax or make DIY seating from pallets and cushions. Create table space with upturned pots or a section of large tree trunk.


Hidden treasures

Make a screen across the length of the garden with a raised bed topped with trellis. The space beyond will beckon as a little secret haven with a hidden treasure like an animal sculpture or water feature to be discovered.

TIP 10

Garden lighting

Apply the layering principle to your garden lighting. Place lights at ground and medium level and hang lanterns high on the walls or trellis to create a feeling of depth and spaciousness to your warm summer evenings.


  • Start with a plan: walls, furniture and structural features like a central raised bed to add new dimensions.
  • Multi-layer the planting with tall slender shrubs, medium ornamental grasses and small alpine mounding plants at ground level.
  • Plan lighting at different levels to create depth and expand the space.

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