Find peace with our hidden sanctuary garden design


A hidden sanctuary garden design can be anything you want it to be. And a good garden designer will take your vision and turn it into a reality. Whether it’s a cosy corner to curl up and read a book, somewhere to bask in the sun or a place to recharge while admiring the wildlife, it all starts from having that initial dream. Here are some ideas that will help transform your outdoor living space into the hidden sanctuary you’ve always dreamed of.

Hidden sanctuary garden design techniques

Replicate a Zen garden

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When you think about hidden sanctuary garden design, the usual image that comes to mind is that of a Japanese garden. And with good reason. Japanese gardens are designed to reflect the harmony of nature and are structured around the guiding principles of asymmetry, enclosure, borrowed scenery, balance, and symbolism. Natural elements, such as rocks, water and plants, are key to creating a feeling of tranquility within a Zen-style garden. 

To create a Zen-like sanctuary, colours are muted and planting designs are kept to a minimum – you can still include plenty of plants but they tend to feature more of the same type of plant rather than lots of different varieties. Japanese gardens are also noted for their lack of flowers, with colour often being provided by cherry blossoms. One of the benefits of this type of garden is that you don’t need a large space in which to work, so this is an achievable garden design for most gardens.

Use calming colours


When creating a calming sanctuary in your garden, it’s important to think about the planting design. Colour can change your mood so if you want a space that’s full of serenity, away from the drama of the home, then your plant colours will need to reflect that. Calming colours such as purples, greens and whites are ideal for creating this type of feeling. Good plant choices include lavender, iris, lilac, allium, chamomile and verbena, with the added bonus that many of these plants are also associated with having calming scents. You can read more about the importance of colour in our blog on The power of plants to enhance your garden design.

Include a water feature

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Water has been shown to have a psychologically restorative effect on the brain. This is according to Dr Mathew White, a senior lecturer at the University of Exeter and an environmental psychologist with BlueHealth, who has found in his research that being near water induces positive mood and reduces negative mood and stress. So, having some kind of water feature in your garden sanctuary should be a high priority. It doesn’t have to be big and fanciful – the sound of trickling water from a small fountain or the glint of blue from a garden pond will have similar calming effects. At Keltie & Clark, our outdoor living garden designers have designed and installed a number of water features for gardens. One design we produced for a relaxing courtyard sanctuary, which you can see in our portfolio, features a Corten steel channel that balances over layers of varied sized rocks, creating a river of soothing running water.

Think about plant structure

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Plant shapes and textures can have an effect on the look and feel of your outdoor living space. Large, architectural plants are used to add drama to a space, so are ideal in entertaining areas or where you want to create a bold focus point. However, these would not be right for a hidden garden sanctuary, where you want to create a sense of peace and calm. Instead, use plants that have a softer form and that can move and flow, mirroring the thoughts that will flow through your mind while you relax and enjoy your space. Verbena, salvia, wild carrot and ornamental grasses, grouped together in drifts, are a great way to add soft textures and freedom of movement to your space.

Explore hidden spaces


A good hidden sanctuary garden design utilises any space within your garden. In fact, the more hidden and tucked away it is, the better! This then incorporates the Japanese concept of ‘miegakure’ or ‘hide and reveal’, in which a sanctuary garden is gradually revealed as you move through the garden into a hidden space. Using clever garden design, you are invited through the garden, via a simple gravel path, a curving hedge or borders that evoke a sense of calm, to the inner sanctuary. Our sanctuary garden designers are experts in designing this type of garden, creating the most peaceful of places in hidden spaces within your garden.


Want to create a hidden sanctuary in your garden?

At Keltie & Clark, we create gardens that transform lives and what could be more transformational than including hidden sanctuary garden design in your plans for your outdoor space? We would love to discuss how we can help to transform all those hidden spaces into outdoor areas for rest and relaxation. Please get in touch with our team of  garden designers in the Cotswolds for more details.


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