Gardening Editor Adrienne Wild provides some easy tricks to make your garden look bigger

Tips for giving the illusion of a big garden

We’ve got lots of tips for helping you create the illusion of a big garden ©iStock

Depth illusion

Use plants with warm colours, such as yellow and orange, at the front of the garden and those with lighter or cooler shades, such as blue, green and purple towards the back. The theory is darker colours recede, giving the illusion of depth, while light colours will appear to be closer.

Brighten walls

In gloomy urban gardens enclosed by high walls, aim to brighten up the space with light-coloured paving or gravel and by painting the walls off-white or in a pale colour. To make walls less overwhelming, decorate them with delicate climbers – especially ones with fine textured leaves trained along horizontal wires.

Lines & angles

A good starting point to a larger-looking garden is to create a simple yet bold style based on strong geometric shapes. Rotating the design by 45 degrees with diagonal paths and patios laid with horizontal lines is a great way to trick the eye into thinking the garden is
wider than it actually is.

And using large paving slabs rather than small blocks will make the finished effect less claustrophobic.


The simplest and most effective approach is to create a circular lawn with a semicircle of patio cutting through it, a design trick that is guaranteed to lead your eye around the garden, making it look larger than it really is.

To accentuate the perspective of the garden and make it look longer, try linking two circles making the one closest to the house the largest and the circle furthest away smaller.

Zigzags & curves

These will create a sense of movement and direction that will help to make a narrow garden appear wider. A curvy path that disappears around the curve of a bed and where you don’t see the end will make the garden look like it continues.

And linking the lawn, patio and flower beds together with clean, seamless edges and paths in this way, works for both long, narrow gardens as it does for wide, shallow plots and especially if you use plants to soften and disguise the hard lines.

Mirror, mirror

Reflective surfaces of mirrors and shiny metal are especially useful for giving the impression of a larger space and for bringing light to these dark corners.

A wall-mounted full-length mirror is a good way to trick the eye into thinking there is a way through to another garden.

To complete the illusion, soften the edges of the mirror with scrambling climbers with pale blooms like scented star jasmine and clematis or variegated ivy.

Water features

Another great trick is to have a strip of water run into the mirror, creating the illusion
of a long canal that runs on forever.

Or use water running over a pillar or wall of stainless steel to create soothing sounds as well as sparking effects. Installing a small still pool will also give the garden depth by reflecting light and the surroundings – and can have the magical effect of bringing the sky crashing to the ground!

Shiny gazing balls studded throughout your borders will give similar effects and double the impact of special plants.

Focal points

Simply place a large urn or topiary sculpture at the end of a path, which stops in front of a mirror.

Fixing a window frame over the mirror will also give it purpose and placing a door in a wall will give the impression there is more garden beyond.

Boundary matters

No matter how big or small your plot, blurring or pushing back the boundaries with lush greenery will make it difficult to tell where the garden ends.

Borrowing the landscape can also be done in a country garden with low hedges and windows in walls. And painting fences in dark tones of green, aubergine, brown or black will help them to recede.