MAGIC TRICKS FOR SMALL GARDENS

Garden With Garden Path
Even the smallest garden can seem bigger with a cleverly placed path.

It’s easy to give your garden the illusion of being bigger than it really is by borrowing techniques from interior design and even great artists.

Magic is all about illusion. When it comes to making a small space look larger, there are loads of ideas to trick the eye into a fooled sense of space. Gardening for small spaces borrows many tricks of the trade from interior design and the world of art, both of which can teach us a thing or two about placement and perspective.

One of the first important concepts to understand is the effect of colour on the eye. Artists and interior designers know that cool colours such as blues, soft pinks and white appear to recede from the eye. Blue in particular, mimics the bluish tint that atmospheric haze gives to distant objects. Plant the perimeter of the garden in cool colours and it will look larger.

Hot colours including reds, oranges and bright yellows have the opposite effect. They jump out at the eye and are useful for lending intimacy to too-large spaces, but should be avoided in small spaces. Any bright colour, even white, will appear to close in a garden space. For example, a pergola painted white will look closer than one painted in natural tones. Painting fences soft colours or muted greens as opposed to Moroccan orange or brilliant red will make the perception of your boundaries recede away from you and make your garden look bigger.

It was the Renaissance artists who discovered the illusion of depth through perspective by copying the way in which natural scenes seem to recede to a single point. A skilful gardener can use this knowledge to force the perspective, that is, to make a landscape seem to have more depth than it actually does.

You can, for example, run a path straight back through the centre of the garden, staking it out so that the path gradually narrows as it approaches the back fence. The viewer’s eye will assume that the width of the path is uniform and that the edges seem to draw together because the path is receding into the distance.

Similarly, if you clip a hedge so that it diminishes in height and width at a uniform rate as it draws away from the viewer, it will seem much longer than it actually is. Echoing the plantings near to the house with similar but markedly smaller ones along the back fence also creates an exaggerated illusion of depth.

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