Learn how to create your own secret garden with these secret garden design ideas that will turn your backyard into a relaxing retreat you won’t want to leave.
Secret Garden Design Ideas
This post may contain affiliate links. We make a small commission if you buy the products from these links (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. But we only recommend products we would use ourselves. For more information, click here to see our disclosures.
Charleston, SC is one of my favorite cities to visit. With its big old houses, cobblestone streets and awesome restaurants, it has tons of atmosphere.
The other thing I love about Charleston is the gardens.
Many of the houses have fairly small yards but they still have the most beautiful gardens. Even from the street, they look so inviting you just want to go in and sit down.
I think it’s because they all feel like romantic secret garden rooms, gas-lit lanterns and all!
So when I created my backyard plan, I decided to use some of the Charleston secret garden design ideas to do my own version in my standard suburban yard.
Of course, I didn’t have the beautiful architecture or the old cobblestone walkways. But I still managed to get some of that secret garden room feeling.
Keep reading to find out how to create your own secret garden room even if you have a suburban yard.
1. Define An Entryway
The first element of a secret garden that all Charleston gardens seem to have is defined entry ways, usually with an arbor and a gate leading into them.
The arbor creates an entryway that looks and feels special.
The gate makes you notice that you’re entering (you actually have to stop to open it).
While not nearly as grand as the Charleston version, installing a standard garden arbor over your entry way still has the same appeal.
You Might Also Like: Creative Garden Gates
2. Create A Sense Of Privacy
The second of my secret garden design ideas is to create a sense of privacy.
In Charleston, you can often see into the garden but rarely get to see the whole thing.
Often the gates or peephole windows have wrought iron details that obscure the view even more.
While wrought iron screens may be out of most people’s budgets (including mine!), you can accomplish a similar feel with any kind of divider that helps to obstruct the view.
A lattice fence that partially encloses an area works well (like my mother has on one side of her deck).
Plants can also create a great privacy screen.
For a less permanent option, hang some curtains to create a secret garden room. They have an extra benefit in that you can choose whatever colors you want.
3. Install Curved Paths
Another way Charleston gardens create the feeling of mystery that makes a secret garden successful is to install curved garden paths.
You can’t see exactly where it ends up…but it sure makes you want to find out!
I did a small version of this in my backyard by creating a circular garden bed between my patio and deck. Which created a curved walkway to get from one to the other.
Installing an arbor (which you can find HERE*) at the front of it and taller plants on both sides prevents you from seeing all the way around the curve.
So it creates that curiosity of wanting to see what’s around the bend.
4. Make Sure There’s Enough Shade
The next one of my backyard secret garden ideas prevents the one thing that can ruin that special romantic feeling really quickly…having the hot sun beating down on your garden room all afternoon.
If you are lucky enough to have trees providing shade for your seating area, you are ahead of the game.
But if not, try to provide some man-made shade to keep your space cool and comfortable.
5. Provide a Destination
Although you don’t get to see the final destination of many of the Charleston garden paths, I can only imagine that it is somewhere worth going to.
Which is why the next one of my secret garden design ideas is to provide a place to go to.
That could be a beautiful table set for lunch (like the picture above).
A relaxing seating area.
Or just a pretty bench.
Anything that gives you a reason to go down that path.
You Might Also Like: Ideas For Creating A Relaxing Deck
6. Light It Up
Adding landscape lighting will make sure you get the most out of your backyard retreat. And make it even more romantic at night.
Even in the evening, Charleston gardens have charm and it’s all about the lighting.
I didn’t go so far as to invest in a gas lamp (although I would love to!), but landscape lighting can help any yard feel special at night.
7. Add Some Romance
Finally, the last of my secret garden design ideas…
A secret garden wouldn’t be a secret garden without some romantic touches (if you ask me).
In Charleston, it’s kind of built into the whole city…the architecture, the lanterns, the wrought iron, the cobblestones…you get the idea.
In our own yards, we probably have to put a little more work into creating a romantic environment.
Whether it’s hanging outdoor chandeliers, using your crystal glasses outside or just lighting a few candles, the added touches are what will really make your outdoor room feel special.
Hopefully, you’ve found some inspiration to create your own secret garden using these design ideas inspired by the secret garden masters in Charleston.