How to Design a Garden if…it’s really narrow

More from our How to Design a Garden series…

How to Design a Garden if…it’s really narrow

The human eye is very good at following lines, if in a narrow garden these lines are too visually dominant, the garden appears even thinner and less inviting. The key to designing this type of garden then is to stop your ‘eye’ following the dominant line of the garden and to make it linger on other things.

Create interest on both the left and right:

This garden is long, narrow, on a down slope and is not blessed with anything attractive to look at. In fact your attention is immediately drawn to the scraggly bushes, wobbly unkempt fencing and the ugly trees at the bottom of the garden.


There are several issues that need to be addressed to give you a nicer garden. The fencing ideally could be replaced, but if it is not your fence, you need to disguise or mask it. At present there is nothing to hold your view anywhere, so it wanders straight to the bottom of the garden and looks at the trees. The fencing on either side merely adds to the funneling effect – so that needs addressing too.

In the second drawing, we have created a new lawn by interlocking 2 ovals. By offsetting the oval to the line of the garden, it begins to look a little wider. The main garden beds are also staggered along the garden rather than created opposite each other. There are now areas of interest on both the left hand and right hand sides of the garden.


 The lawn also points to the end of the garden, you have created a place to look at something. However, the view is still straight down to the end, we need to add interest that stops you looking straight to the end.

In this instance, the ugly fencing is not yours so you need to hide it. Cloaking the fence in climbers sounds like a good idea, however the weight of a climber will probably cause the fence to collapse. So, a good alternative is to use rope and posts. The posts have been painted a really vibrant colour, so you notice these as opposed to the fencing behind. The climbers can the be trained to grow along the ropes.

Create an New Line for the eye to follow:

Initially, both sides of the garden channeled your view, but you can take over this with where you place the posts. The focal point at the end of the garden now has an entrance, the posts rather than follow the fence line, create the new path for your eyes to follow. Here it guides you to look at the new focal point at the end of the garden.

Use Bold Colours:

There are a lot of fences in this garden, a down slope and also a fairly ugly view. What’s needed is a colour scheme that captures your attention more. In this example vivid pink repeats itself all through the garden. From the flower colour to the post colour, there is a vibrancy that is more interesting to look at. Use bulbs to create more interest at different times of the year, these can be the same vibrant pink, or you can use a contrasting colour.

Garden design is all about making the garden work for your purposes as well as making it look better. Narrow gardens need taller planting to hide the long straight lines, this helps break the view into areas of interest closer in. By offsetting features and using colour you can give the impression the garden is wider than it really is.

See also:

Garden Design for Beginners

Creating a Low Maintenance Garden…

Part 1

Part 2





How to Design a Garden if:….

It’s all weeds

It’s a city garden

Small! – you couldn’t even ‘swing a cat’

I still have no idea where to begin

I would like the garden to be less boring!

You need to start from scratch

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