Landscape & Hardscape Ideas, Project Planning & Tips

Creating a Secret Garden, Right in Your Own Backyard

They are said to be magical. Ever since Frances Hodgson Burnett first penned A Secret Garden in 1909, young and old alike have been fascinated with secret gardens. These smaller gardens enchant us by allowing us to create a small fantasy world right in our own backyard.

The good news is creating a secret garden is relatively easy and you don’t have to be an expert gardener or have a big budget to achieve magical results.

Defining Your Secret Garden

By definition, your secret garden should not be entirely visible at first glance. They are typically surrounded on all sides, and the entrance can either be a door or hidden passage. Secret gardens can easily be incorporated into existing landscapes, and this is a case where smaller works better (to better keep your garden a secret).

What Magic Lies Ahead?

A walkway using pavers or quarry steps can lead visitors to your secret garden. Depending on your personal style, a salvaged door or gate gives it a mythical old- world look, while a curved trellis or arbor covered in ivy or flowers is more romantic in nature. Or try adding hinges to a large wall mirror and using it as a door is an inexpensive way to create an optical illusion.

There are many ways to enclose your secret garden. Depending on your current landscape layout, you may need to add walls or additional enclosures. The enclosure can be made of existing structure or an additional wall or plantings. “Walls” can be created using HardScaping (such a retaining wall) a fence, trellis or plantings. The side of your home can be closed off on three sides with a trellis and some climbing ivy or plantings, such as arborvitae or bamboo. Fast growing and evergreen, privacy hedges make excellent enclosures.

A walkway in aged pavers sets the stage for the perfect secret garden entrance.

Beyond the Door

Pavers come in a variety of sizes, textures, and colors and they work wonderfully to define your private backyard garden space. Try mixing paver colors to create a one-of-a-kind look. Since the plants will be surrounded by walls, they should be shade or partial shade loving in order to thrive. Good choices include moss, blue corydalis and ferns, since they need little maintenance and won’t overcome the space too quickly.

Furniture should be minimal, but a walkway within the garden can lead visitors to smaller, private seating areas. Form should follow function, so be aware of how much space you’ll need in order to be comfortable.

When accessorizing your secret garden think about how you will use the space. Is it intended to be a quiet reading nook, a Zen meditation space, or a fairy fantasy garden for the grandchildren? Salvaged and up-cycled items are perfect décor items. Unique and eclectic accessories work best, but resist the urge to over decorate, your secret garden should allow your eye to rest and your imagination to soar.

Have fun creating your secret garden and when you are finished, you’ll always have a place to get away from it all, right in your own backyard.

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