Monthly Archives: June 2016

Creating the illusion of space in the garden by David Andersen

A sunken circular lawn of artificial grass, with a wooden bench in front of miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus' - © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

A sunken circular lawn of artificial grass, with a wooden bench in front of miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ – © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

We’re not all blessed with acres of outdoor space – and even the most exclusive properties can only boast a courtyard garden or patio. Yet often our desires don’t match reality – largely the principle reason behind small gardens gaining a reputation for awkwardness and frustration.
However small gardens don’t need to be frustrating, awkward or disappointing. They can be transformed into magical spaces created to suit you perfectly. One requirement of many small garden designs is to create the illusion of greater space than is actually present. In this blog we explore a few key tips for creating the illusion of space – and they’re easier to implement and less expensive than you may think.

Living Landscapes: City Twitchers Garden - white painted fence with bird boxes and insect hotel, white patio furniture, planting of white and green coloured plants, Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost', Stachys byzantina 'Silver Carpet', Astilbe x arendsii 'Bridal Veil', Digitalis purpurea f. 'Albiflora', Hosta 'Fire and Ice', Hydrangea macrophylla 'Nymphe', Rosa 'Iceberg', raised bed made from woven willow planted with herbs - Designer CouCou Design, Sarah Keyser - Sponsor Living Landscapes - RHS Hampton Court Flower Show 2015 - awarded Silver gilt - © Stephen Studd/GAP Photos

Living Landscapes: City Twitchers Garden – white painted fence with bird boxes and insect hotel, white patio furniture, planting of white and green coloured plants, Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’, Stachys byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’, Astilbe x arendsii ‘Bridal Veil’, Digitalis purpurea f. ‘Albiflora’, Hosta ‘Fire and Ice’, Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nymphe’, Rosa ‘Iceberg’, raised bed made from woven willow planted with herbs – Designer CouCou Design, Sarah Keyser – Sponsor Living Landscapes – RHS Hampton Court Flower Show 2015 – awarded Silver gilt – © Stephen Studd/GAP Photos

Pale and interesting
Painting fences, walls and even planters and furniture in pale hues (for example creams, whites, light greys, greens and blues) brightens a space, instantly opening it out and creating a light, airy feel. Darker colours have the opposite effect – absorbing light and closing in a space.

Clean and tidy
Cluttered gardens always look smaller – whilst a space of the same size boasting large swathes of lawn and sweeping borders will appear larger. This is an excellent tactic to employ in a garden of any size – but it’s especially important where smaller gardens are concerned as space is at a premium. Keeping ornaments, pots, furniture, toys and any other objects which could clutter your garden to a minimum (or hiding them in a shed or garage when they’re not in use) will open up the space considerably.

Hosta 'Aureomarginata' - © Jonathan Buckley/GAP Photos

Hosta ‘Aureomarginata’ – © Jonathan Buckley/GAP Photos

Go large
Choosing large-leafed plants over smaller options may appear to be illogical – but exclusively using plants with small flowers and foliage can add to the ‘small’ feel of a garden – whilst opting for species with large, fat leaves (like Fatsia, Hostas and Gunneras) make a space appear wider. Control is key with large plants, however – as if they are not properly maintained they could begin to take up too much space. Keeping them in pots and raised beds can help to slow down growth, lessening the amount of pruning and cutting back needed.

Mirror, mirror
The classic space-giving tactic – the mirror – offers the illusion of double, quadruple or even 100% more square footage simply by inclusion. Mirrors can be as tall and wide as the walls surrounding your garden, or small and decorative – even introducing small mirrors around the garden will reflect light and offer another dimension.

For more expert garden design tips and tricks click here.

David Andersen

David Andersen

David Andersen

About the author, David Andersen: David believes that every garden can ‘uplift the spirit and nurture the soul’. David strives to create an overall relaxing, entertaining and engaging atmosphere in every garden he designs and builds.

Metal Wheel as a pot

Feature - Metal Wheel as a pot. Finished wheel with a variety of succulents - Aloe, Sempervivum, Echeveria - © GAP Photos

Feature – Metal Wheel as a pot. Finished wheel with a variety of succulents – Aloe, Sempervivum, Echeveria – © GAP Photos

A quirky container made from an old car wheel, planted with succulents.

Low growing, drought tolerant succulents come in many shades, sizes and forms. They thrive and look fantastic in gravel or pebble mulch too but some are tender and won’t survive many a hard winter frost. Planting them in containers makes it possible to have them outside for the spring, summer and autumn and you can overwinter them indoors. A rusty metal container makes a wonderful contrast to the pale blues, greens and silvers of succulents and creates the feeling that they have just appeared there naturally.

To view this feature in full click here.

Water butt living roof

Water butt living roof. Plants include Semper vivens, Aeonium, Echeveria, Sedum album, Sedum spathulifolium 'Cape Blanco', Sedum rupestre 'Lemon Ball', Sedum tetractinum 'Coral Reef', Sedum album 'Coral Carpet', Sedum pulchellum 'Sea star' and Sedum reflexum 'Red Form' - © GAP Photos

Water butt living roof. Plants include Semper vivens, Aeonium, Echeveria, Sedum album, Sedum spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’, Sedum rupestre ‘Lemon Ball’, Sedum tetractinum ‘Coral Reef’, Sedum album ‘Coral Carpet’, Sedum pulchellum ‘Sea star’ and Sedum reflexum ‘Red Form’ – © GAP Photos

Transform what would otherwise be a dull, utilitarian area into a bright, creative feature by planting up your water butt lid with drought-tolerant plants. Sedums, crassulas, sempervivums and other succulent hardy species are perfectly adapted to growing in very shallow soils, because their fleshy leaves are excellent at storing water, allowing them to hunker down during prolonged periods of drought. Once planted up, this living roof requires very little maintenance. A water butt lid offers only 2cm depth of soil, but these robust plants will happily grow here, evolving into a rich, interwoven tapestry of colours.

Semper vivens  - Water butt living roof - © GAP Photos

Semper vivens – Water butt living roof – © GAP Photos

To view this feature in full click here.