5 ideas for walled backyards to inspire from this small urban plot

A mix of hard landscaping, water features and naturalistic planting are among the walled garden ideas in this design

walled garden design in Highgate London by Peter Reader
(Image credit: Peter Reader Landscapes)

The walled backyard design ideas in this small city plot provide numerous focal points that help to make the space feel larger than it is. 

Walled gardens have a lovely feeling of privacy, but the clever elements used in this design also draw the eye away from the surrounding walls and encourage the viewer to explore the garden and its planting.

Hard landscaping, strong sight lines, and a semi-formal pool combined with naturalistic planting are just some of the design features and backyard ideas to enjoy in this city garden. 

The cumulative effect helps to create a garden of 'rooms' to be enjoyed throughout the year. 

Walled garden design with a garden pond, rill and sundial

(Image credit: Peter Reader Landscapes)

'For many years the garden had been kept as a play space for the children, with a large area of lawn, a sunken trampoline and a neglected hot tub,' explains garden designer Peter Reader .

With the children grown, the clients wanted to incorporate some small backyard ideas 'and reclaim the space for adults as a garden to enjoy, relax and entertain in. They were looking for a garden with strong structure, but softened by naturalistic planting, that delivered great views from both the kitchen-diner and the living room,' Peter adds.

Peter shares his walled backyard ideas for making the most of this urban back yard.

1. Create various outdoor 'rooms' for more interest

walled garden design with formal and informal areas

(Image credit: Peter Reader Landscapes)

The space is loosely divided into three separate ‘rooms’ that are joined and flow into each other through the use of hardscape, including low retaining garden wall ideas and cobble detailing. 

'There is a difference in the style and planting of the garden rooms,' explains Peter, which helps to create different views.

walled garden design with planted beds, water feature and sundial by Peter Reader

(Image credit: Peter Reader Landscapes)

'As you  progress up the garden from the house, the style becomes gradually less formal and more naturalistic in its look, culminating in an orchard of five best fruit trees within a small wildflower meadow,' Peter adds.

Planting a wildflower meadow is a wonderful wildlife garden idea and you can create an area for wildflowers even in a small urban plot.

2. Add a garden pond for a key focal point

walled garden design with a semi formal pond surrounded by paving

(Image credit: Peter Reader Landscapes)

A centrally placed semi-formal garden pond idea forms a key focus in this walled garden design.

'The view to the pond from the living room patio runs between two flower beds creating a sight line to an armillary sundial on the other side of the pond that sits in a third flower bed with matching planting,' explains Peter.

Sundials are a classic element of English garden ideas and can add a touch of traditional charm to an otherwise modern space.

walled garden design with armillary sundial by Peter Reader Landscapes

(Image credit: Peter Reader Landscapes)

A set of stepping stones set in line with the sundial completes the view and enhances the effect. 'Together these also draw the viewer out into explore the garden,' Peter adds.

3. Use strong lines for different garden vistas

Walled garden design with paved and cobbled features, fruit trees and mixed planting

(Image credit: Peter Reader Landscapes)

The walled garden design has strong lines running through it on both its vertical and horizontal axes. 

'This includes a rill that runs out from the central pond,' explains Peter, one of many water feature ideas

'The strong lines create multiple focal points and interesting views within a relatively small space. These both enhance the beauty of the garden as well as drawing the observer out into the space on a journey of discovery. The different vistas also help create continuity across the whole garden and the three garden rooms,' says Peter. 

4. Mix strong evergreen planting with perennials

walled garden design with mix of evergreens and perennial planting and Lutyens bench

(Image credit: Peter Reader Landscapes)

The planting is a carefully balanced mix of strong evergreen yew topiary cubes and spheres, softened by mixed small shrubs and perennial planting. 

Knowing how to grow ornamental grasses was also important to this walled garden design to deliver a good all year structure to the garden.

Walled garden design with area planted with wildflowers around a bench

(Image credit: Peter Reader Landscapes)

The evergreen and year round structure is 'complemented by softer highlights and color throughout the year,' explains Peter.

A classic Lutyens bench has been placed at one end of the garden for a spot to sit and admire the views and planting.

5. Soften garden walls with trellis and climbing evergreens

walled garden design with trellis on walls and evergreen climbers

(Image credit: Peter Reader Landscapes)

This walled garden design included clever use of the brick wall that surrounds the garden. 

'The wall delivers an atmosphere of privacy and serenity, as well as providing a lovely foil for the planting of the garden itself. Left blank, however, the wall would be too visually hard,' explains Peter.

The impact of the wall is softened by trellis ideas in the use of large, regularly spaced square trellis panels. These are covered in one of the best evergreen climbers, Trachelospermum jasminoides, or star jasmine, as well as mixed clematis for additional summer highlights of color. 

walled garden design with a semi formal pond, rill and repeated planting

(Image credit: Peter Reader Landscapes)

The overall effect is a beautiful walled garden design that offers many different views and a relaxing environment to enjoy year round.

Rachel Crow

Rachel is senior content editor, and writes and commissions gardening content for homesandgardens.com, Homes & Gardens magazine, and its sister titles Period Living Magazine and Country Homes & Interiors. She has written for lifestyle magazines for many years, with a particular focus on gardening, historic houses and arts and crafts, but started out her journalism career in BBC radio, where she enjoyed reporting on and writing programme scripts for all manner of stories. Rachel then moved into regional lifestyle magazines, where the topics she wrote about, and people she interviewed, were as varied and eclectic as they were on radio. Always harboring a passion for homes and gardens, she jumped at the opportunity to work on The English Home and The English Garden magazines for a number of years, before joining the Period Living team, then the wider Homes & Gardens team, specializing in gardens.