How to Create a Secret Garden

An entrance to a secret garden.

A secret garden can provide the perfect outdoor escape for your home. Hidden amongst a variety of flowers and trees, a secret garden can turn your backyard into a land of privacy and enchantment. If you are creating your own secret garden, here is a quick guide on the things you should consider before getting started.


A forsythia plant.

Plant hedges along the perimeter of the secret garden for an extra layer of privacy. You can also use a row of hedges inside the garden to separate different areas, depending on the size of your backyard. Thick hedges that are great for privacy include evergreen shrubs, hydrangeas, and dogwood. For a hedge with a bit color, consider planting French Lilac or some forsythia. Hedges are good for concealment and also provide spaces for birds and other animals to safely nest.

Popular Perennials

Poppies in a field.

Perennials are great for a secret garden because they are low maintenance and flower in a variety of colors. Examples of good perennials for a secret garden include poppies, purple crocuses, lilies, roses, delphinium, and irises. All of these varieties feature strong colors that will add a lot of depth to your garden. When planting perennials, make sure you pay attention to color schemes and take into consideration how long each plant will bloom.

Fragrant Plants

Lavender fields.

You can get a lot out of fragrant plants inside a secret garden. Because you are inside an enclosed space, the smells will seem a lot stronger than out in the open air. Some good plants include lilacs, mignonettes, dianthus, hyacinths, lavender, and sweet peas. If you plan on spending time in your garden after sunset, petunias and lilies smell great at night. As a rule of thumb, avoid growing too many fragrant plants in one area.

Plants for Birds and Other Flying Creatures

A hummingbird flies up to a plant.

A secret garden would not be complete without a heavy dose of animals and insects. Shrubs and vines provide plenty of spaces for birds to nest and populate. Certain types of birds can also help keep down the population of pests. Daylilies and buddleia are great for attracting butterflies. You can also plant coral vine, honeysuckle, columbines, and red salvia for hummingbirds, though you should double check and make sure none of these plants are invasive in your area. Whenever planting new flowers, always check hardiness zones and make sure the species can be planted in your area.

Trees for Secret Gardens

A Norway spruce tree.

Privacy trees are another option for hiding a secret garden. Large trees with dense foliage will provide plenty of privacy and they can attract local wildlife. A Norway spruce is a great option for a privacy tree. This spruce tree thrives in narrow spaces and can grow up to 20 feet tall with an average width of 5 feet. If you are looking for something a little more unique, consider the golden Spanish fir. This tree has plenty of height and features unique flowers, making it a great conversation piece as well as a privacy screen.


Pavers in a garden.

Pavers are another key staple to a secret garden. Using paving stones, you can create a meandering walkway to guide visitors to different sections of the garden. When it comes to using the right kind of paving stones, it really depends on what kind of aesthetic you are going for. Brick and stone are commonly used for pavers, though courtstone, copthorne, cassoca, hollandstone, and mattoni are other viable options. You can also go with a more natural look by adding sod walkways and separating sections with wood fencing.


An entrance to a garden.

A hidden entryway is perfect for a secret garden. The entrance not only helps conceal the garden, but it also defines it as a private place — not to mention giving it an enchanted feeling. One method of building an entryway is to use an old door and plant privacy bushes on either side. You could also construct a more natural entrance by creating an archway with vines. Adding a brick or stone walkway before the entrance can really pull everything together.


A bench in a garden.

You should consider adding seating to your secret garden so that you can fully enjoy the space throughout the year. This could be as easy as buying a bench or a few chairs and placing them under your garden’s largest tree. If possible, try and conceal the seating area with nearby foliage. This will add another layer of privacy while keeping the seating area partially hidden from view. You can also install a canopy over the seating area to help shade it from the sun and inclement weather.

Lighting Options

Lighting in a garden.

Your secret garden should feature some kind of lighting. You should keep the lighting options pretty low-key as the focus should always be on the plants and décor. The goal is to create a subdued ambiance that still provides enough light to be functional. Good places to install lighting include stairs, entryways, exits, and paths. You can also use lights as a way of emphasizing certain areas of the garden at night, such as the seating area or an entertainment spot.

Other Objects

Lighting in a garden.

Installing objects with meaning is a nice touch for a secret garden. This could take the form of materials you have collected over the years, like different rocks, or garden decorations you think are particularly unique. By sticking to items that have meaning, you can avoid cluttering the garden and taking the focus away from the plants.