How does your garden make you feel?

When we stop and notice how landscapes make us feel, we can start to understand how garden spaces can be designed to create different moods and atmosphere.

This year’s lockdown experience has given us a unique chance to pause and notice nature doing its thing. Gardeners amongst us have long known and noticed the benefits of hooking into the gentle rhythm of the seasons, from the first snowdrops in January to the froth of cow parsley in Spring.  When I ask new garden design clients about their brief, one of my first questions is “How do you want your outdoor space to make you feel?”.  It is understandably perplexing for a client who hasn’t considered this before – but this single question drives the entire atmosphere of the garden created through the design and planting of the landscape. 


Do you want to feel enclosed and protected? In this case screening is important, using vertical structures and blocks or architectural planting to envelope you and channel the views through a space.

1 1
2 1

Screening doesn’t need to involve evergreens – many deciduous plantings, grasses and meadows offer different screening qualities through the year. In this exposed front garden the bank planted with meadow turf screens a seating area used for summer relaxation but maintains a more open, sculptural view through in the lower winter light

Do you want a space which is open and airy, basking in the sunshine and providing a greater sense of scale? Garden-owners often love their lawns – it’s a tamed version of the open savannahs from our primitive hunter-gatherer roots – but high maintenance areas of grass are not the only option.  Meadows and gravel gardens offer airy, open spaces with more sustainability – less maintenance, less watering and a much greater benefit to wildlife.

gravel path a
gravel garden c

Gravel or dry gardens can become pockets of ‘tamed wild’ maintaining that feeling of openness 


Atmosphere and mood can be created simply by the style of planting. The layered textures of foliage and delicate flower forms of a shady woodland garden bring a calm sense of stillness. In contrast, ornamental grasses and perennials in a more open garden meadow planting create constant movement and energy with an evolving palette of colour through the seasons

The beauty of our own private landscape is we can create a variety of moods in a relatively small space simply by understanding how we want to feel and using this to drive the design process.

I’m hoping this year, after this period of pausing and contemplating our personal space, clients will have plenty of thoughts on how they want their garden to make them feel.

If you are looking for inspiration or advice then feel free to contact me for a chat