Garden design principles include adding enclosures within the garden area, commonly called garden rooms. It’s a way to extend our living areas beyond the window. An ideal enclosure within a landscape design can be achieved through various means. Ideas for the gardens’ outdoor spaces include walls, fences, hedges, screens, and structures. Here are some landscaping tips for creating an enclosed outdoor garden room landscape design by establishing a front and backyard with different functions for each space.


Define Boundaries 

To create outdoor garden rooms within the landscape, use exterior walls and fences to clearly define the edges of your property and develop a sense of separation from the surrounding area. For example, you may build your home in a new subdivision with homes on both sides. You want to create a clear boundary between the two properties to distinguish your yard from the next-door neighbors. You may even have pets you want to keep within your borders, so they don’t get lost or wander off. Clarifying these spaces can create safety, privacy, and a sense of ambiance when outside in nature.

retaining wall enclosure in a garden-landscape design

This retaining wall impacts the garden by enclosing the perennial garden and seating area to create more intimacy while still providing views over the wall.

Creating a Cozy Garden Room with Tree Canopies

You may notice walking into a large space like a church where the ceilings are high and expansive versus a small classroom where the ceilings are lower, and the room is more intimate. Sometimes you want to replicate the same thing in the garden. One space may be for many people, like an entertainment area with a pool. You may add tall trees with wide canopies to give a sense of high ceilings creating a garden enclosure with plenty of natural light peeping through the branches. Sometimes designers use high hedges enclosing the space or a tall fence.

In contrast, a bedroom door leading to a private patio may be a quiet spot for resting or reading on your garden furniture. It may have a smaller ornamental tree with branches closer to the ground to create more intimacy and enclosure. For example, a small retaining wall might be nearby, with greenery next to the wall giving a peek-a-boo effect while still lending privacy to the luxury sanctuary that is Pinterest-worthy. Each one serves a different purpose and gives the resident a different feeling when in the space.

Therefore, these tall walls or fences will do double duty to provide privacy and block unwanted views. These hardscaping garden enclosure structures can create a sense of seclusion and make your landscape feel like a private oasis. They can also act as a sound barrier to reduce noise from surrounding areas.

perennial garden with retaining wall garden encloure in a landscape design

The tall walls create a sense of privacy and block unwanted views. It serves as a backdrop to the perennials and shrubs along the path in this garden enclosure

Separate Garden Rooms with Different Heights

The height of your walls and fences can also impact your sense of enclosure. Taller walls and fences will provide more privacy, while shorter ones may give a sense of separation without completely blocking views. For example, a retaining wall can enclose a garden space on a slope by creating a vertical barrier separating different garden sections or defining the area’s boundaries. A retaining wall separates outdoor garden rooms and adds more planting space. If the garden has a sloped site, use a retaining wall to create a level space for planting or patio areas. The wall acts as a barrier separating the lower and upper areas. On a lower level where the bank is above you, the retaining wall can act as a seating wall if it’s short enough to take advantage. Use it to create more intimacy for seating around a firepit or outdoor gathering space.


Consider adding gates to your garden enclosures to access different landscape areas. Garden gates can also provide a visual focal point and enclosure if an arbor is attached and help break up the continuity of a wall or fence.

Gates come in various styles, from ornate to simple, and can make a statement in your landscape. Tall, heavy gates can provide a feeling of seclusion and privacy, while light, airy gates can create a more open and inviting atmosphere. Consider adding an arbor over the gate for a dramatic entryway. For example, a black metal gate with an arbor can create an elegant, formal entrance that will create a grand entrance to your garden room. If you want a more natural feel, consider an arbor with a wooden gate that will blend in with the surrounding landscape. The type of gate you choose should reflect the style of your garden and add to the overall aesthetics of the space. Decide what is most important to the design and feel of the garden room when designing.

Softscape Screens

You can also plant an evergreen or flowering hedge for the garden enclosure. You can use several different shrubs or trees to create a year-round green wall. 

If you have the time and patience to let your garden grow to full maturity, planning out the softscape can make the boundaries even more interesting in areas. 

Evergreen Plant Screening

Evergreen plants are a great option for screening, as they provide year-round privacy and coverage. The specific plants you choose will depend on your climate, lighting, soil type, and personal preferences, but here are a few popular options:

Boxwood (Buxus): Boxwood is a slow-growing evergreen that can be pruned into a formal hedge or grown naturally, preferably well-draining soil and partial to full sun.

Holly (Ilex): Holly is a tough and resilient evergreen that can tolerate various soil types and conditions. It produces attractive berries in the fall and winter, but be aware that some varieties have spiny leaves.

Arborvitae (Thuja): Arborvitae is a fast-growing evergreen that can quickly provide privacy. It prefers moist, well-drained soil and full sun but can also tolerate some shade.

Yew (Taxus): Yew is a slow-growing evergreen that can be pruned into a formal hedge or grown naturally. It prefers well-drained soil and partial to full sun.

When choosing evergreen plants for screening in design, consider the location your plants will be in and the specific needs to thrive in each area. Additionally, consideration is made of the desired height and width of your screening, as some plants may grow larger than others, and you’ll not want them to undergrow or overgrow your space. 

landscape design incorporating enclosure with fence and hedging

While the short picket fence gives a boundary, the evergreen shrubbery separates different parts of the garden around this home.

Deciduous Plant Screening

On the flip side, you can also use deciduous plants that may have a more see-through look in the winter but give you lots of pretty color in the spring and summer. 

Here are some popular options:

  1. Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii): This compact shrub produces fragrant white flowers in the spring and attractive foliage that turns yellow, orange, and red in the fall. It prefers partial shade and moist, well-drained soil.
  2. Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius): This rugged and adaptable shrub produces clusters of white or pink flowers in the spring and has attractive peeling bark. Some varieties can grow up to 10 feet tall and prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.
  3. Viburnum (Viburnum spp.): There are many species of Viburnum, all of which produce showy flowers and berries. Some popular species include Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum), Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago), and American Cranberrybush (Viburnum trilobum). They prefer full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.
  4. Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia): This shrub produces fragrant white or pink flowers in the summer and has attractive foliage that turns yellow in the fall. It prefers partial shade and moist, well-drained soil.
  5. Hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.): There are many different species of hydrangea, all of which produce large, showy flowers. Some popular species for screening include Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) and Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia). They prefer sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.

When selecting deciduous shrubs for screening, it’s essential to consider the size and growth habits of the plant, as well as its specific soil and light requirements. Additionally, you may choose plants with attractive foliage or flowers to add interest to your landscape throughout the year.

Raised Berms for the Outdoor Garden Room

Use landforms like berms to create a visual barrier and add height to the landscape creating a garden enclosure. This addition can be particularly effective in large or open areas with no natural space definition. By creating a raised platform, the berm can help to redirect the line of sight and provide a more attractive view of the landscape. By creating a raised platform, the berm can provide a focal point and add height and dimension to the landscape. In addition, plant birms with trees, shrubs, and groundcovers to increase the sense of enclosure and provide privacy. 

When designing a berm to enhance enclosure within the landscape, it’s essential to consider the specific site conditions and how the berm will interact with the surrounding environment. When designing, I complement the site’s existing topography, vegetation, and architecture and create a sense of unity and harmony within the landscape. Additionally, the berm should be designed to accommodate the plants and materials used in its construction and to provide proper drainage and erosion control.

A berm’s height and width must provide proper drainage and erosion control when adding a berm to the design. The berm should be sloped at a 3:1 ratio (3 feet of horizontal distance for every 1 foot of vertical space) to ensure stability and prevent erosion. When adding soil, add wide sweeping curves to the space to make it look more natural, like you initially found and built around it.

Additionally, the berm should be planted with appropriate vegetation to prevent soil erosion and provide visual interest. The specific plants used will depend on the site conditions but can include a mix of trees, shrubs, and groundcovers well-suited to the local climate and soil conditions.

Integrating these elements into your landscape design allows you to create outdoor garden rooms and define the boundaries. A garden enclosure gives both safety, privacy, and ambiance. If you need help creating outdoor garden rooms, hire a landscape designer. Contact me for a design package today!