Before & After: An Achievable Circle gate Upgrades a Modern Swedish Side Yard Garden

When I look at Swedish gardens, I always feel so optimistic.  Especially this time of year (winter).  It is always so hard for me to imagine the long, bright green days of summer when everything outside is short, dark, and white. Sweden is notably like New England (except a little darker and a little colder) in many ways and seeing a garden emerge from that landscape always makes me more optimistic that my own winter browns will refresh to lush greens.  

side yard garden makeover swedish before and after
Before, a bare and exposed sideyard flanked a modern black Swedish house. It’s nothing to look at and not a useful place.

Ogling over Swedish gardens (and especially a garden makeover) makes me feel better. By my logic, if they can make amazing gardens (with their even colder, even darker winters), certainly we (in all places outside of the Arctic Circle) can too.

So here is a little before and after of a Swedish sideyard. Designed by Mariana Sjoberg, it should spur you on to think about possibilities for your own unused outdoor space.

Before & During – Adding The Circle Wall (Or Do we call it a Moon Gate?)

side yard garden makeover in sweden before and after garden design
As the garden transformation emerges, a circle gate is created to define the space. Even though this moon gate is slatted and see-through, it defines the small side garden that will emerge.

I love how the whole place feels so much more special with the addition of the circle gate. Entrances always matter to garden design. They really set the stage for how you will feel as you pass through them and into whatever is next.

After the Addition of the Slatted Circle Gate

side yard garden makeover swedish before and after
This small side yard garden is defined by a simple slatted wall that has a circular open cut out of it. It is a unique design detail that gives this tiny garden its own sense of place and style.

The circle is making the whole space feel a little broader and more substantial (it is actually narrow and awkward in shape and size). It offers a different focal point (i.e. the center of the circle) and distracts from the skewed angles of the raised beds and the trellis that aren’t as welcoming.

It is a great study in how to make a small and awkward space feel bigger and more inviting.

detail of planting for sideyard garden
The raised beds in this garden match the dark charcoal gray paint color of the house as do the trellis that provide open walls and even more definition to this garden room. The lush planting features tulips, allium, heuchera, daffodils geranium, and black cohosh (actea racemosa).

Another point of design inspiration to take from this project is to think about the traffic flow you are creating. Maybe the sideyard doesn’t always have to be a pass-through. It is ok to make a dead end. By changing the traffic pattern, you might find that you can use the area in a whole new way.

Side yard gardens often suffer from a lack of interest and are an afterthought for the garden design – but this gate puts this side yard front and center.

To see more images and read more about the transformation, visit Mariana’s Blog.

images Mariana Sjoberg

More Side yard transformations and interesting garden gates:

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  1. What a nice moon gate. I also like the very dark grey houses.

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