Stray from the straight and narrow and bring loveliness to your outdoor space with sweeping lines and organic shapes
Houzz Contributor and homes and property journalist with a passion for interiors…. More
While our gardens tend to be regularly shaped square or rectangular plots, the trees, plants and flowers we put in them are infinitely various in shape and form. Introduce garden designs and planting schemes that deliberately contrast with angular boundaries for beautiful results.
Choose furniture in organic shapes
Break up linear boundaries and squares of turf with garden chairs, tables and benches in designs that echo natural botanical forms. In a smaller space, keep to a two-tone scheme that emphasises shape over colour.
In this compact modern garden, the vertical lines of the potted shrubs are softened by the pleasing curves of the furniture, pompom box balls and blowsy hydrangea blooms.
Banish straight edges from your lawn
Shape turfed areas into soft silhouettes, so the resulting borders vary in depth and interest. Consider what’s visible beyond the boundaries of your space and let that lead decisions about planting, too. For instance, you could screen off the back of someone else’s shed, create privacy with an evergreen shrub, or draw the eye to a neighbour’s beautiful tree as if it were part of your own garden.
Reflect the undulating lines of your borders and lawn by choosing a round table or reserving a corner for a grouping of traditional terracotta pots.
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Frame a view with an arch
Design a gated entrance to your outdoor space that creates a snapshot of what lies beyond. This brick arch features painted wooden gates that curve down from hinge to centre to form a circle with the brickwork above when closed. Train ivy and clematis over the wall and paint woodwork a subtle shade to blend with the backdrop.
This simple framing device can work just as well in a small outdoor space as it does in a large one. Use it to create a sense of anticipation.
Plant up meandering borders
Create flowerbeds that bring a sweeping, free-flowing sense of movement to your garden. Graduate the planting front to back, from ground cover to shrub to specimen tree or climber, to keep the curving lines of the borders visible.
Here, a wonderful collection of shrubs and perennials forms a lush and pleasing pathway.
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Clip box into balls
Let your planting provide some rounded shapes, too. Try your hand at topiary and use secateurs to clip box plants into balls. Plant a group close together in a visually prominent position, or dot them through the garden as the homeowner has done here.
Box is slow-growing, so will only require minimal pruning in May and August, with mature plants only needing a single summer tidy-up.
Make space for a bit of art
Sculpture can bring personality to an outdoor space. This eye-catching stainless steel armillary sphere is, in fact, a sundial and has been mounted on a ‘living’ plinth. The framework of rings introduces curves that contrast with the square-clipped and espaliered shrubbery.
Recycled items can make brilliant display pieces, too – roll out an old bicycle or plant up car tyres. Quirky children’s toys also make great garden art.
Train a rose over an arch
Create a living, flowering curve with a steel frame and a pretty rose. Pick a favourite spot in your garden and buy a variety that’s suitable for the conditions there, whether that’s full sun or partial shade. Rambling roses flower once, while climbing varieties repeat flower through the summer and autumn, so decide which is right for you.
If your arch is narrow and you’re putting it over a pathway, look for a thornless rose. Factor in fragrance, too, and you’ll enjoy your hard work all the more. If you have the space, consider fitting two or three arches together to create a flower-covered walkway.
Take a hedge around a bend
Whatever your reason for growing a hedge – creating a boundary, zoning off an area or providing a windbreak – it pays to plant in a curving line. Somehow, a gentle sweep has a more ‘natural’ feel than a linear progression.
Popular choices for hedging include box, yew, laurel, beech and hornbeam. Pick one suitable for your purpose and conditions: think about how tall you need it to be, whether you want an evergreen or deciduous variety and how much time you have for maintenance.
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Round things off with a path
Even a long, narrow garden can benefit from a little curvature. Think about materials and shapes and how they can be used in unusual ways to create fluid movement.
This pretty garden features sandstone planks sweeping around the perimeter of the lawn. The path continues to a seating area near the house, the length of the planks shortening en route. Whatever material you choose – bricks, flagstones or gravel – careful positioning will allow you to create a joyful, meandering line.
How have you brought curves into your outside space? Share your ideas in the Comments section.