Garden Design Tip: Spring 2020


Homeowners are often surprised when I tell them that designing a small suburban or urban garden is much harder than planning a large-scale landscape. The reason is simple: in the small garden, there's nowhere to hide. While on an estate you can easily camouflage the compost bins or a utility area, when the entire landscape is visible from the back door, life becomes much more complicated. The key to success in small garden spaces is to transfer some tips of good interior design to the outdoors: the need for a unified style, a primary focal point, and appropriate scale.

• Most small garden spaces can be thought of as outside rooms, each with walls (boundaries such as hedges and fences) doors (paths and gates) and windows (views to other areas of the garden or the land beyond). And just like an inside room, outside rooms need to have a style that relates both to the other rooms around it, and is unified internally.

• If you consider the small garden space a room, then like a like a good interior, it should have a focal point -- something that draws you into the space and allows the mind to make sense of it. Fountains, sundials, walkways & arbors all make excellent focal elements.

• Scale is equally important to the intimate garden. In the same way that nothing looks sillier indoors than a tiny room stuffed with oversized furniture, it is imperative that you choose architectural elements -- arbors, fences, trellis, outdoor furniture and such that are scaled to the space available.


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