City Garden Design – Creating a Destination

City Garden Design – Creating a Destination

Modern living is all too often a rush from one part of a routine to the next, like a series of deadlines that must be met and a list of tasks to be completed. This is not necessarily a bad thing if you enjoy your work and life’s circumstances, but even in this happy scenario the pace of events may not be conducive to reflection and relaxation. The city environment compounds this way of living and makes it more important than ever to have a space in your home that may distract you – even if just for a short time – to stop and appreciate nature, pause and reflect on life.

To achieve this escapist and personal space a garden needs to be inviting enough to draw us into it, to inspire us to visit and to stay a while in its space, soaking up the atmosphere. To literally reach out and grab our attention and lure us from our routines a garden design must aim to have a greater visual impact than the commonplace urban features, such as fences, lawns, sheds, neighbours’ houses and hard landscaping materials. We can create this contrasting landscape without using extravagant materials or exotic plants; the key to achieving a garden that looks distinctive and different from its surroundings, that is powerfully inviting – is good design.

In order for our design to exert an influence over us it needs to relate to the viewpoint in the house from where the garden is most frequently seen, such as the patio doors (or the sofa beyond them), the kitchen window or conservatory. We can use the analogy of a human body to form a structure, starting with the ‘spine’, in a shape that will be eye-catching enough (when glanced at from that frequent viewing point in the house) to draw you out invitingly into the garden. The spine usually takes the form of a path, or the shape of a lawn, and just like a skeleton the other parts of our design need to be built around this backbone. Once we have decided what we are going to use to make our spine we need to find the all important shape for it. In city gardens, where we are often surrounded by straight lines, a curve is usually the most striking shape to use. A curve will provide the contrast needed to set the garden apart from its surroundings and lead the eye to another crucial part of the garden’s skeleton.

Second only in importance to the spine is the destination, or ‘head’ of the body. At the end or top of our backbone we need a place to go to which will motivate us to make the journey out into the garden, preferably to the furthest point from the house – so that we use the whole garden. So many newly built houses have a patio immediately outside the house, as if to say ‘go no further’. Our destination can be as simple as a bench, an arbour or a complete patio with furniture – as long as it is visible, or partly visible from the most frequent viewing point in the house. Once we have established this location we need to incorporate some interest or attraction around it or near it, to further entice us to go there, and to hold our attention, encouraging us to stay for longer.

In order to make us pause and reflect for a while in our busy lives, the attraction in this area must be carefully ‘stage managed’ – whether it is an attractive view back towards the house, or a group of plants with scented flowers, a pond with fish or wildlife to watch. The successful design of this area – the destination at the head of the spine of the garden – can be the benchmark by which the success of the whole design is judged.

This article was supplied by Suffolk garden designers, The Real Garden. From Garden designs to finished landscape construction – The Real Garden provide a comprehensive & bespoke service with the highest regard for discrete and professional care for clients.


  1. one
    Comment by May 21, 2012 at 2:47 AM


    I love this to, I was dreaming about such a wonderful garden idea. Whenever I buy a big house with lots of garden space I will surely go for this. Garden is the best part of our house where we can enjoy and feel relax. The ideas you suggested in this article are awesome.


  2. two
    Comment by Deck Contractor Toronto: Jul 6, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    First Of all I would like to Repeat that Maintaining a beautiful Garden ahead of your home is a eco friendly way of Renovating our home as it will inherently put extra additive values to your home. Suppose that if you have a lush green garden around your home then everybody will appreciate its beauty and this will keep the temperature of your home down as sun rays will not come directly on your house roof.additionally it’s good for our environment too.

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