It’s always asked me for ideas on how to break up the space within a wide shallow garden and also make it appear longer.
Today, many houses are built on individual plots. The gardens are becoming smaller and often have odd shapes or shallow depths.
Garden designer Posy Gentles transformed this shallow wide garden in Whitstable for her clients, Karen and Andrea. She moved the garden shed into this area, painting it and the fence almost black (anthracite) to make them ‘recede.’
I asked the renowned garden designer Posy Gently. Posy has just completed a brilliant garden renovation on a wide, shallow garden in Whitstable.
How to design a wide shallow garden
- Create a short. List all the things you would like to do in your garden
- Choose your style
- Use trees, plants, sculptures, etc. in the middle to ‘interrupt the view’ to the rear fence
- Divide the garden in thirds by going across.
- Divide the garden into different zones: plants, dining, storage, etc.
- Mark the zones with paths, borders, or plants
- Use pavers and bricks that are harmonious to create a simple look in a small space.
- Paint everything to match your chosen color scheme
- Plantings near the house
Karen and Andrea have created a seating area in the bottom left corner of their garden. The sun is setting, and they can drink a beverage while watching the sunset. The plantings in front make it appear further away.
Create a garden design ‘brief’
The same principles apply whether you are designing a garden to be gifted or for your own enjoyment.
It’s the same whether you have a large or small garden, a wide or narrow one, or if it is long and thin.
First, make a list of everything you would like to achieve in your garden.
You can choose to relax with a good book or eat with your friends. You may want to enjoy the sun or prefer the shade. Do you need a play area for children, storage space, or privacy?
What would you want to see when you’re in the house and look out on the garden? What about when you are in the garden and looking out?
Create a brief by reading How to Design a Garden if You’re Not a Garden Designer.
Consider what type of garden you want. See 12 garden styles for inspiration.
Karen and Andrea’s Garden
You can then start to think about the specific design for large and small spaces.
Posy’s clients, Karen & Andrea, had an expansive shallow garden in the back of a newly constructed home.
The kitchen had large windows that covered half of its width, allowing them to see their garden at any time.
Posy was surprised to see that the garden had a large patio at the back. It took up almost half the space. Karen and Andrea needed plenty of room to enjoy drinks with friends or eat outdoors. The space was cut in half by the large terrace.
There was also a shed on the terrace.
Before pictures of Karen’s and Andrea’s Garden, The terrace cuts the garden length in half, and you can now see the fence at the back.
This is now the view from Karen and Andrea’s kitchen out to the garden.
Planting in the middle of a wide, shallow garden will break up the space. This tricks the eye into thinking the garden is larger than it really is.
Designing a large shallow garden is the key.
To design a wide shallow garden, you must stop your eye from looking at the fence behind it immediately. In the middle, you need to have trees, plants, or other things.
You will first notice the trees and then look through or past them to the fence.
Your brain will trick you into thinking a small garden is bigger because the process takes more time than seeing a fence back in a fraction of a second.
Karen and Andrea had planted two mature fruit trees at the center of their garden. Posy says that if they weren’t there, she would have had to buy them.
Some people place a sculpture or a plant in the middle of a border.
Posy said that having two mature trees at the center of Karen and Andrea’s garden was “a gift.” Posy has brought the elements of the garden together by painting the fence in black and moving the plants closer to the house.
How can you divide a wide, shallow garden?
Posy was shocked when she first saw Karen’s and Andrea’s garden. It had been divided in half. The terrace was one half of the garden, where they could relax or eat. The other half consisted of the planting.
Posy decided that the garden would be divided into three zones – one on each side. She decreased the size of her terrace by one paver.