If you’ve got a long one, then it needs to be a tease…

One of the keys to having your garden look great is down to how you divide up the space within it. I find the well worn phrase of ‘garden rooms’ really annoying (don’t know why, I just do), so I’m going to try to explain what I mean about dividing the space in your garden, without using the ‘r’ word. We’ll see how I get on.

Hidden-GardenDifferent shape gardens need different space divisions. For today, I’ll concentrate on long, narrow, and rectangular shape gardens, as that’s what the vast majority of people tend to have. We’ll look at what to do with wide and awkward shape gardens in future blog posts. The main principles though, do apply to all gardens.

Why divide your garden up at all?

The short answer: to make it look more interesting.

The slightly longer answer: when we can’t quite see everything in one go, it creates an illusion of space, size and creates intrigue. What is around the corner?

Now, to be clear, you do not have to have solid divisions, like a fence or wall to divide space in your garden. It can be really subtle. For instance, the shape of the plant border jutting out in carefully selected locations, that slightly obscures certain parts of your garden from view, yet allows tantalising glimpses that make you want to see more.

So, basically, you need your garden to be a bit of a tease.  Flaunt the best bits, with the promise of something more just slightly hidden around the next corner or bush…

To do this all comes down to how you divide up space and what shapes you use in each section of the garden.

Subtle use of space division from patio and planting border shapes

Really subtle space divisions from patio and planting border shapes

Long, rectangular gardens are amongst the easiest to design because all you have to do is decide how many different areas or sections you want, to suit your lifestyle. So, for example, if you’ve got small children, they will need space to run around and kick a ball in, so less divisions are better.


This long modern garden has very defined areas

You might want a section for growing vegetables, a secluded seating area, or a child free area you can escape the family and relax in. Even if you don’t have defined uses for different areas of the garden, it still pays to visually divide it a little bit as shown in the example photographs.

The long modern garden plan on the right shows very defined… darn it, now would be a perfect time to use the ‘r’ word!  Very defined sections. No subtlety with the divisions whatsoever, but there is still a view down the garden through each section. That’s a critical thing to do because you don’t want to block off the view and make the garden look smaller than it really is.

What to do if your garden is long and narrow

If your garden is really narrow, then dividing the space up more, so that each section has a shape that makes it look wider, will work wonders, as shown below.


Again, this is a very subtle division, the planting just pinches in a little bit. It’s just enough to make it more interesting.

Exactly how you divide the space will all come down to the length and width of your garden, as well as your needs. Without wanting to go too far down the slippery slope I’m already on, size really doesn’t matter, it’s what you do with it that counts.

So make sure you choose the right shapes to divide up the space in your garden in a way that enhances what you’ve got. OK, I’m stopping there, before this turns into an episode of Carry On Gardening…

What else do you need to do?

LongGdnCoverSMIf you’d like more pointers on exactly what to do with your long, narrow or rectangular shape garden, it just so happens, that there is a brand-new mini course I’ve put together,  called, wait for it, the Long Garden Formula.

Next week we’ll look at small space gardening. I’ve got a stunning little Moroccan influenced courtyard garden to show you, a perfect example of what can be achieved in the tiniest of spaces.



About Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 20 years. My mission is to de-mystify garden design and make it easy for people to successfully design their own garden - without needing to spend a fortune!


  1. Karen Brunskill says:

    fabulous :O)

  2. I'm thinking of taking the course, you may ud advise me with some garden designs if I put my landscaping business?

  3. Hi I offer advice if you have a question regarding any of the course materials. If you have plans you need advice on, I also run a garden design clinic, so can help you with any garden plan – you can find out more about that here: http://www.successfulgardendesign.com/plan-review-service/

  4. Ok thanks! is very important to me later buy the course I really like the landscaping.


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