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Sunday, April 14, 2024
Growing Together: Adding a sense of welcome to your garden

I wrote last week about the importance of adding a “sense of entry” to your front or back garden.

Let's look at the next sense that is required for good garden design – the “sense of welcome.”

We all have something in common: we are all looking for ways to relax and get away from the busyness of life.

Think about a garden that you have been in where you instantly felt relaxed. What made it so welcoming?

I think of a garden that I helped to develop at a seniors home. As soon as you walk out into the garden there is a central water feature surrounded lavender hedging.

The garden is surrounded by large mature trees that are home to many songbirds. Within the gardens are large, curving beds filled with a plethora of flowers. There are pergolas placed to provide shady retreats for those who want to stay and enjoy the beauty a little bit longer.

In our gardens we need to create spaces for unwinding and reflecting. You need to be thinking of what an ideal space for relaxation might mean for you or for your guests. It might mean different things for different people.

Maybe it is the scent of roses, the sound of running water or the site of moss-covered rocks. It could be seeing various textures of foliage or the sound of birds singing. All these things can lend themselves to the sense of welcome.

Let’s explore some simple things that you can do to incorporate this element of welcome into your garden.


What is more welcoming than wandering around a beautiful garden and coming upon a bench placed under a large tree where you can have a seat and rest while taking in the view.

When planning a sitting area, first think about its purpose. Is it for entertaining a larger group of people or is it just for a solitary visitor? Are you thinking about table and chairs or more comfortable seating?

Knowing this will help you to plan for the space. Secondly, what is it that you would like your focus to be on? The last thing that I would want to be looking at is the clutter that we all have beside our sheds.

By including our regular senses of touch, taste, sound, smell and hearing near a seating area we will automatically increase the sense of welcome into the garden.


Another way of creating a sense of welcome in the garden is considering the natural sunlight available to you. Think about what kind of light different areas of your garden are receiving at the different times of day.

Whatever your sun conditions are, take advantage of them and use the light to help create a sense of welcome.


Focal points are used in garden design to draw and direct the eye. Think of a garden that was just a swath of plants. Your eye sweeps along, not knowing where to land.

A focal point will cause your eye to stop and rest at that feature. Properly placed focal points give your garden a sense of purpose and order.

Your focal point could be an ornament such as a bird bath or gazing globe. It could be a structure such as an arbour or obelisk.

There is nothing like a quiet water feature, unique plant, a well-placed large rock, or the use of vibrant colours to capture your attention, giving you that sense of welcome.


Movement refers to what keeps the eye in motion throughout a landscape. Some plants, such as grasses that naturally sway back and forth in a gentle breeze, can create a sense of calm and relaxation. Even a winding path of pea gravel that directs a visitor toward a seating area can provide movement in the garden.

Another way that we can generate movement is with repetition of colour and form.

Movement can also be created by the lines of the beds themselves.


If your garden is lacking organization, unity and a sense of balance it will leave you feeling chaotic. Organize your storage area or shed so that you do not see any messes as you stroll around the garden.

Simplicity can also refer to the layout of garden shapes. Simplistic lines, whether curved or geometric, in a garden re much more welcoming than a garden with haphazard lines.

How can you be adding the “sense of welcome” into your garden?

Would you like to learn more about gardening? Why not join the Niagara-on-the-Lake Horticultural Society? Visit notlhortsociety.com to see how you can become a member.

Joanne Young is a Niagara-on-the-Lake garden expert and coach. See her website at joanneyoung.ca.

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