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From concept to creation: How to design a perfect wide shallow garden

Brown brick house with green plants

If you’re lucky enough to have a wide shallow garden, you also have a unique opportunity to create a beautiful outdoor space that’s both functional and aesthetically pleasing. However, designing this can be a daunting task. It requires careful consideration of the space available, the desired look and feel, and the plants and features that will best suit the area.

8 Key things to consider when designing a wide shallow garden

1. Layout

The first step in designing your garden is to consider the layout. Think about how you want to divide the space and what type of plants and features you want in each area. Consider the sun exposure, wind patterns and views from your home when planning the layout.

2. Purpose

What do you want to use your garden for? Do you want a place to relax, entertain guests, grow vegetables or simply enjoy nature? Knowing the purpose of your garden will help you determine what to include.

3. Soil Type

Understanding the type of soil in your garden is essential for determining what kind of plants will grow well in your area. Soil type can also impact the kind of garden bed you choose, as well as the type of mulch and compost you use.

For a wide shallow garden, a sandy loam soil type is ideal. Sandy loam is a combination of sand, silt, and clay, and it is well-draining and easy to work with. It has good aeration and water-holding capacity too, which makes it the perfect choice for your garden. Additionally, sandy loam is rich in organic matter, which helps to improve the soil structure and promote healthy plant growth.

4. Drainage

Make sure your garden has good drainage, especially if you live in an area with heavy rain. Poor drainage can lead to waterlogged soil, which can harm your plants and be a breeding ground for pests and diseases.

5. Plant Selection

Similar to planting a butterfly or bee garden, choose plants that will thrive in your specific climate and soil type. Consider the height, width and colour of the plants when designing your garden, and make sure to provide enough space for each plant to grow.​​ Here are some plants that you can choose from:

  • Lavender is a great choice for a wide shallow garden because it is low-maintenance and drought-tolerant. It also has a beautiful scent and attracts pollinators. 
  • Sedum has a wide variety of colours and textures, making it a great choice for adding interest to the garden. 
  • Thyme has a pleasant scent and is a great choice for adding texture to the garden.
  • Coreopsis is the best choice if you want to add colour to the garden. 

Other plants to consider are: Dwarf Mondo Grass, Yarrow, Fountain Grass, Dwarf Hairgrass, Japanese Holly or Dwarf Japanese Boxwood.

6. Lighting

The amount and type of lighting in your garden will impact the growth and appearance of your plants. Consider adding lighting to highlight a pretty tree, for instance, or a water feature.

7. Water bowls

Place water bowls to attract birds and other wildlife to your shallow garden. These bowls are typically made of plastic, metal or ceramic and can be placed on the ground or hung from a tree or other structure. Change the water regularly to keep it clean and free of debris.

8. Maintenance

Consider the amount of time and effort you’re willing to dedicate to maintaining your garden. Choose plants that are easy to care for and use a mulch to help retain moisture and suppress weeds. You may also want to consider using drought-resistant plants in areas with limited water access. Other things to keep in mind in terms of maintenance are:

  • Mulch helps to retain moisture and keep weeds at bay. Spread a layer of mulch around your plants to help keep the soil moist and reduce weeds. 
  • Fertilise your garden regularly to ensure that your plants are getting the nutrients they need to thrive. 
  • Prune your plants regularly to keep them healthy and encourage new growth. 
  • Pull weeds regularly to keep them from taking over your garden. 
  • Monitor your garden for pests and take steps to control them if necessary.
  • Rotate your crops to help prevent disease and pests from taking over your garden.

How to make a shallow garden look deeper

A wide shallow garden design can appear flat and uninteresting. However, with a few clever tricks, you can make a shallow garden look deeper and more inviting. By using a combination of plants, hardscaping, and lighting you can create the illusion of depth and create a beautiful outdoor space.

  • Use a variety of plants with different heights and shapes.
  • Plant taller plants in the back of the garden and shorter plants in the front. 
  • Use curved pathways and curved edges to create the illusion of depth. 
  • Place large rocks or boulders in the back of the garden.
  • Use a variety of colours and textures in the garden to create visual interest. 
  • Place a trellis or arbour and a water feature in the back of the garden.
  • Place a bench or seating area in the back of the garden.

Person showing green plant to another person in the garden

What are the best wide shallow garden designs?

Raised Bed Garden

A raised bed garden is a type of garden in which the soil is built up in a raised bed, usually made of wood, stone or brick. The soil is usually higher than the surrounding soil, allowing for better drainage and improved soil quality. Raised bed gardens are often used to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers.

Container Garden

Container gardens are great for those with limited space or who want to add a decorative touch to their outdoor space. They are popular because they are easy to maintain and can be placed in any location, including balconies, patios and decks. This is a form of gardening that uses containers such as pots, boxes and hanging baskets to grow plants.

Rock Garden

This type of garden is often designed to look like a natural landscape, with rocks and stones arranged in a way that creates a sense of balance and harmony. Rock gardens can also include plants, such as succulents, cacti and other drought-tolerant species.

Vertical Garden

Vertical gardens are a great way to create a wide, shallow garden as they are easy to construct and can be tailored to fit any size or shape. A vertical garden is a type of gardening system that uses vertical space to grow plants. It can be used to grow a variety of plants, including vegetables, herbs, flowers, and even trees. They are often used in urban areas where space is limited, and they can be used to create a beautiful green space in any environment.

Hanging Garden

A hanging garden is a type of garden that is suspended from a structure, such as a balcony, terrace or wall. The most famous ones are those from Babylon, and you can make yours by typically planting in containers or baskets to create a lush green space in an otherwise limited area.

Why are wide shallow garden designs important?

If you decide on designing such a garden, you will provide a larger area for plants to grow and thrive. These types of gardens allow for more sunlight to reach the plants, which is essential for photosynthesis. Additionally, wide shallow gardens can help to reduce soil erosion and runoff, as the soil is less likely to be washed away by heavy rains.

Wide shallow garden designs are becoming increasingly popular in the UK, particularly in urban areas where space is limited. People use this to create a sense of space and to make the most of the available area. In rural areas, on the other hand, these garden designs are used to create a more naturalistic look.


Designing a wide shallow garden can be a great way to create a beautiful outdoor space that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. When designing your garden, make sure you consider the size and shape of the space, the type of plants and flowers you want to include, the amount of sunlight the area receives, and the type of soil you have. Additionally, keep in mind the irrigation system you will need, the type of furniture and accessories you want to include, and the type of maintenance you are willing to do. With careful planning and consideration, you can create a gorgeous wide shallow garden.

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