Wide garden design – Case study

wide garden

Wide garden before design

If your garden is wider than it is long, then you need to put a bit more thought in to how you plan it. The problem with wide gardens is their lack of depth, it makes the garden feel confined because the end of the garden is so close.

This is true even if the garden is quite sizeable. You might have a lot of physical space in the garden, but if it’s pointing in the wrong direction i.e. widthways and not lengthways, then visually it will make the garden feel much smaller than it really is.

So how do you design a wide garden?

Step 1 Divide the space of the garden into different areas.

The division doesn’t have to be a wall or fence, it can be very subtle with planting or a pergola. By dividing the space up, it will make each area look longer. So in effect, each end of the house has its own garden.

Now depending on just how wide your garden is, you can divide it into two or perhaps three areas.

Step 2 Choose shapes that will make each of your divisions look longer.

So, for example, using either an oval or rectangular shape in each of the sections of your garden for the lawn, will make that area look longer, because your eyes will follow the length of shape. You can also use interlocking circles or boxes. If you have enough space, then you can consider using the free form flowing curves. However, it is advisable to start off with simple geometric shapes, just to get an idea of the feel of the space.

Step 3 Create interest by having focal points that draw your eye down the garden.

By having strategically placed focal points like a statue, urn, or bench/seating area, your eyes will automatically be drawn to the solid object in between the planting. Adding a focal point to look at occupies your mind with more visual information and that always helps distract your brain from the true shape of the garden.

Case study wide garden


In our wide garden case study example you can see that owner had had a really good go at designing the garden herself. She had put in one nice size lawn shape, and had a good ratio of plants to space. However, the shape she had used for the lawn accentuated the width and made the garden feel shorter, rather than longer.



This transformation could be easily done on the limited budget that was available for this garden. It really is amazing just how much difference getting the correct shape lawn can make to a garden. I know it’s totally counterintuitive, you want to think of your garden as putting things in, like patios and plants, but it really is down to how you shape the areas of empty space. That’s what really makes a difference!

Many thanks to Gillian for so willingly allowing me to use her garden plan as a case study example.

Did you find this case study helpful?

Please leave your comments in the boxes below!

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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. Alison Boocock says:

    Amazing how shape can make all the difference…simple but effective!

  2. Thanks Alison! It is amazing how much a difference getting the right shapes in your garden makes. I'm continually surprised by it and I design gardens every day! 😉

    I'm going to be doing a garden design case study, like this one, every month now, so stay tuned!

  3. A design for a wide garden at last! Hope you do more, please?

  4. is it not possible to build a flower bed on de side of the patio?

  5. rachel is it not possible to built a flower bed on the side of the patio and play with high? groeten

  6. Hi Mauro, yes, that is certainly possible but the budget was very tight for this garden, so I kept the design as low cost and simple as possible.

  7. Hi Eileen, glad you liked the wide garden case study. I will definitely try to do some more. Trouble is, most people tend to have long gardens, so I don't get asked to do them often. I will be sure to post another one on the blog as soon as I get the opportunity.

  8. Hi Rachel,

    It is really very nice design!
    Thank you for sharing the ideas.

    Focal point; i do not like statues, what would you use in the garden for a focal point? Especially with tight budget, would you mind giving us some ideas and some pictures?

    Than you

  9. Hi Tarab,

    Thank you. I agree, not very keen on statues either, so I tend to use large pots or urns as a focal point. Or you can make a sculpture out of different size stones placed on top of one another. Driftwood can look good as can an antique chair painted a bright colour. The limit is only your imagination and a paint pot colours!

    A focal point is really just a solid object that gives your eyes something to focus on other than plants.

    Hope that helps.


  10. Janine MCMAHON says:

    Thanks Rachel – look forward to seeing more.

  11. I’m loving the cicular lawn , so simple yet so effective for space. Too many clients want it all yet don’t have the space, the amount of arguments it can lead to unless you nail the design like you have. Elegant work!

  12. Absolutely helpful! One of the most important tips!
    A small move a big difference! it really looks bigger now. 🙂
    Thank you Rachel! ….and Gillian!

  13. Elizabeth Butcher says:

    We are just moving to a bungalow with a very wide garden and this design looks absolutely perfect and would incorporate what my son has in mind for a covered seating areas we have extra space to one side, in front of the garage. Absolutely thrilled to find this, so thank you very much.

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