Large gardens are a pleasant luxury for those who can afford them. However the best landscaping ideas for large back gardens are not always obvious. Large gardens mean expansive amounts of time and money to keep them well tended for.
The ultimate question is what to do with all the extra space? If you have found yourself in the situation of having lots of land there are always multiple and exciting ways of developing it. Some in this scenario will have large budgets and ambitions, others may seek maximum impact and functionality with the minimum of input and cost.
In this article I have tried to cover a spectrum that would facilitate the two. From food production to scenic and even wildlife habitats we have put together the best 30 landscaping ideas for large back gardens below.
Not many people know that woodlands are nature’s way of creating an ecological equilibrium. Established woodlands create a diverse and low maintenance environment where visual chaos is expectable.
What type of wooded garden you create will depend on how large your garden is. It will also depend on what sort of environment you wish to create. Large trees are expensive and difficult to remove once established so be meticulous in your planning. Woodland gardens are most effective when good landscape design and planning is applied.
Tree species should be selected for their ecological and scenic value as well as their eventual height and spread. By planning for a climax canopy of varying heights and forms woodland gardens can create some of the most breath taking landscapes.
Woodland gardens can take at least ten years to become established so get ready for a timely process. On the other hand well planned, miniature forests can provide perfect places for play, and wildlife habitats for the whole family.
Mazes are the ultimate garden luxury and status symbol. Mazes are a series of interlocked pathways which may or may not lead to the desired end point. Mazes usually have a start point and end point with other alternative routes confusing the direct journey. These can be fun and frustrating at the same time. Typically the destination point has some reward such as a raised platform or object of interest.
To create a maze takes months of planning and years of establishment. However if you think a maze will be no work when the initial installation is complete think again! Mazes require intensive maintenance regimes which can be costly. On the other hand they are a true wonder for any larger garden.
Mazes are created with both hard and soft landscaping. Normally a series of pathways are created with parallel planting beds on either side. Then fine textured hedging stock such as privet, buxus or yew is planted. Meticulous care and trimming are then required for around five years for the maze to reach its full glory.
If you are on a limited budget or require a low maintenance landscape a maze is certainly not for you! However if you have heaps of time, money and patience a maze could be the ultimate garden ego trip!
Vineyards can create scenic landscapes more typical of Mediterranean climates. There attractive horizontal line in the landscape can compliment rolling hills and undulating landscapes. Although not the first thought for many when planning a garden vineyards can be small as well as large.
If you fancy a go at making at your own wine or just producing your own seasoned grape harvest. Vineyards can be a real way to show off to your friends and family. For the best results your grapes should be grown on a chalky soil on a south facing slope. Buying many young plants of a specific variety at once however can be expensive.
The best way therefore is to buy a few plants, grow them on and take cuttings or clones. This is relatively easy to do in autumn. There are many different varieties of grapes so do your research before you invest a lot of time and effort into it. With some pre planning before long you will have your own grape growing empire with some amazing wine to match.
Crazy golf course
Crazy golf is enjoyed by millions of people across the world every year. Most people associate this whacky form of golf with amusement parks and public spaces. However creating a crazy golf course in your garden really isn’t that...well crazy.
The fact that there are no real rules to how each hole should be put together really means you can do pretty much whatever you feel! This can become a fun and creative landscaping project for the whole family!
Perhaps you want to recreate features of a course you have visited? Or perhaps you want to create a more personalised course for you? Maybe you love wildlife and want to create the world’s first wildlife habitat crazy golf course?
Multi use sports lawn
In recent times many have decided that having a lawn is just too much hard work. The rise of artificial lawns has sent many gardeners on the quest of reaching a truly maintenance free garden. However like most things in life the perfect vision rarely becomes reality. In reality mowing is actually one of the easiest ways to maintain large areas of land.
There is good reason large swathes of our countryside are grass. Lawns allow us to stay away from weeding and pruning with one simple maintenance schedule. However what most people miss completely about lawns is they are the perfect multifunctional surface. Lawns are perfect for dinner parties, absorbing water and the physical shock of multiple sporting activities.
Lawns create a dense thicket of foliage and root mass creating a soft, cushioned surface perfect for impacts. One of the best landscaping ideas for large gardens is to capitalise on this fact. A multi-use sports lawn can be created by landscaping a large, expansive level surface and preparing it for new turf.
A newly defined rectangle of freshly laid lawn can be created to the exact size specifications to accommodate; Tennis, Badminton or Football.
Not only can orchards produce a handsome crop of fruit every year they can also be extremely scenic within the landscape. Neatly planted rows of fruit and nut trees can create an idyllic place to rest and play within the garden.
Many fruit and nut trees have fantastic displays of blossom every spring creating a seasonal delight. Orchard trees can be bought on a smaller rootstock meaning they will not grow into huge trees staying manageable wihin a garden setting.
Instead of growing all one type of tree why not mix up your crops to give you variety and choice. Nuts like sweet chestnuts, almonds and walnuts are easily stored and apples, plums and pears can be dried, fermented or turned into pickles.
Many presume having a polytunnel is only a venture for the hardened horticulturalist. It has to be said however that polytunnels are just perfect for beginner gardeners or just novices.
Even if you have never really enjoyed gardening polytunnels allow you to take advantage a dry, warm and sheltered environment in the garden all year round! If the weather is bad during an outside event move everyone inside for drinks and nibbles. These light covered spaces enable you to grow exotics like lemons, bananas and even Avocados.
Polytunnels give you the opportunity to produce edible crops all year round and can extend the growing season. Even if you just like to experiment with germinating seeds and growing floral displays, these structures can help propagate a whole new passion for gardening. There are now many polytunnels for gardens which come in all sorts of shapes and sizes online.
Using gravel as a garden surface can evoke mixed reactions as some people love it and some hate it. Gravel does allow you to create a multifunctional surface from a place to park cars or somewhere just to sit outside and relax. The great thing about gravel gardens is you can add different visual textures and colours to surfaces relatively cheaply.
Little skilled labour is required to spread and level aggregates making it easy to install. Many worry about the establishment of weeds but in our experience as long as a tough membrane is applied and at least a 50mm depth there should be no problem.
Gravelled spaces can add a Mediterranean theme to the garden providing rustic textures and warm colours. Plants with architectural form can be planted which can complement the fine textures of the stones. Gravels can also warm up in the sun provide warm micro-climates. These can make for good places to sit outside or grow warmer loving plants.
Wildlife pond has become an ever increasing rarity in the landscape since the dawn of mechanised agriculture. This has also meant a dramatic reduction on the wildlife species that rely on them for survival. Many of the species associated with pond environments are actually very beneficial to gardeners. Amphibians like frogs and newts help control pest species like slugs and snails.
When looking for the best landscaping ideas for large gardens ponds do not always spring to mind but they have many benefits. For example if you create a large pond with a considerable depth and surface area it will be a very low maintenance feature. This will require the approach of reaching an aquatic ecological balance. By planting native, wild plants and allowing wildlife to colonise slowly will create the perfect low maintenance wildlife haven.
Large ponds can also be used to raise fish whether for decoration, interest or even food production. Fresh water fish such as carp and catfish can be easily reared for the table.
Spending time outside in summer is a real treat and a great way to catch up with friends and family. Traditionally a barbecue is the best way to get the senses alive and the taste buds dancing. However with a general reduction in meat consumption and sometimes rather charred results garden kitchens are becoming a popular alternative.
These typically include a kitchen work surface with a wash basin and an oven of some sort. These could be inbuilt Tandoori ovens, or pizza ovens. Garden kitchens can be built under cover or on the sunny side of the home or patio. Although these do take some planning and cost to get right they make the perfect setting for family get togethers.
Humans have kept chickens for thousands of years! They reduce pests, help fertilise the soil, and produce tasty organic eggs for the family. Chicken keeping is lots of fun and a great way to utilise the extra space of larger gardens.
In fact chickens can feed themselves from the environment so the larger the garden you have the less you will have to supplement their diet with feed. All chickens need is a warm and dry place to sleep and a run. The best way to keep chickens is with a secure aviary system so they can come and go as they please.
On days when you are around you can let them roam freely across the garden. Chickens do have to be locked up at night to prevent predators from taking your stock. If you are interested in keeping these fabulous birds here is a great book on the subject. Chickens are the perfect way to make use of large garden spaces.
For more information on keeping garden chickens check out this thorough article on the subject here.
Wildflower meadows were a typical feature of most agricultural landscapes before commercial agriculture. These grasslands were cut twice a year to provide hay for grazing animals over the winter.
This was vital for the keeping of animals to produce milk and meat. Since animals now eat agricultural feed many meadows have simply been replaced with intensive grazing. Due to seasonal cutting wildflowers within the meadow were allowed to flower and set seed. This provided much food for pollinators and the long grass provided shelter for wildlife.
Today there is nothing more splendid that seeing a majestic wildflower meadow in full bloom!. Creating a wildflower meadow in your garden can be a great way to encourage wildlife and reduce mowing! To turn traditional lawn into meadow simply scrape off sections of lawn and sow wild flower seeds local to your area. These are perfect for large gardens which require a lot of mowing.
There is nothing quite like spending time with friends especially in a cool bar. These special occasions however do not have to be expensive or a cab journey away. Garden bars provide the perfect venue for such fun occasions and with some clever design can be used all year long.
Outside bars typically associated with holiday resorts with some vision can make an excellent addition to a garden patio. Garden bars can be a simple shelf with a drinks rack or a full on circular bar with thatched roof and outside speakers.
There are hundreds of creative designs and styles to choose from including some great ideas on Pinterest. Among one of the best landscaping ideas for large gardens, garden bars are great for those special family get togethers.
Wildlife watching dens
Although creating wildlife gardens has become ever more popular in recent years many do not yet realise how to get the most out of a wild space. It is true that if you go into any wildlife habitat you will only begin to experience nature once you have sat motionless for a good while.
Becoming motionless and unnoticeable in the landscape is easier said than done but becomes a breeze with wildlife watching dens. These simple garden installations are easy and quick to build and allow you a front seat to your gardens wildlife.
Natures soon becomes accustomed to the hide in the landscape allowing you to sneek in and start nature watching whenever you like. Wildlife watching dens can also be decorated with green walls and roofs to make you even more concealed and hidden.
A great way to make use of a large garden is to set up a tropical garden. These exotic jungles can cover a large garden space and the large bold foliage can help shade out any weeds. There is a surprising amount of tropical looking plants which can take cold and wet climates, see our article on best tropical garden plants for temperate climates here.
Tropical gardens are typically evergreen meaning they will look good even in the winter time. Tropical gardens usually create dense, shady thickets perfect for creating a secret place or screening unsightly views.
If you have a large garden there is nothing like creating your own bit of tropical paradise just outside your home.
If you are interested in creating a tropical garden, why not check out our article on best plants for a tropical garden in cooler climates here.
When many think of a courtyard they contemplate large, country estates and royal palaces. To the contrary however courtyards do not have to be large or luxuriant. Courtyards can be simple square patio spaces enclosed or framed by various landscape features.
A simple rectangular hard surface in a garden corner can be decorated to give whatever feel you desire. Perhaps you would like to add some palms, log burners and Moroccan hanging lanterns to make an amazing Moroccan courtyard.
These can be become fantastic places to sit out and entertain with family and friends. These courtyard spaces can also be covered and heated to allow them to be enjoyed even in winter time.
Some of the best landscaping ideas for large gardens are commonly the most unusual. When it comes to the unusual there is nothing quite as extraordinary as a garden amphitheatre to inspire great events and performances.
Amphitheatres a conception of the ancient Greek and Romans are circular, terraced structures designed to accommodate large audiences with a centralised arena. These were cleverly designed to help amplify sound from the centre outwards so the audience could hear the performers or lecturers speak.
There are many ways amphitheatres can be integrated into the landscape including concrete, timber and landform formations.
Dry gardens and Mediterranean gardens are a fantastic idea for large sunny open spaces. These gardens make use of simple architectural form and rustic features. Their use of gravels and rocky surfaces mean they can both look great and be extremely low maintenance.
Typically a dry garden will consist of dry stone walls, gravels, rocks and Mediterranean planting. Succulents, yuccas, palms and grasses can add that little bit of an exotic touch to the planting. These gardens soon warm up in the sun creating the perfect microclimate environment. This can provide the perfect places to sit out and enjoy a barbecue.
If you have a large expansive area which is free draining and gets a lot of sunshine dry gardens can be very effective features.
Some of the best landscaping ideas for large back gardens are the ones that actually improve your life. Growing your own fresh fruits and vegetables can be such a rewarding way to make use of extra space.
Creating an allotment is an exciting process which will not only make you abundant in home produce it will also make you fitter. Allotment gardening can burn up to 500 calories and hour as well as helping to develop core strength.
Allotments typically consist of rectangular plots of well prepared ground and apparatus for supporting climbing vegetables. These can actually look very aesthetically pleasing to the eye. One of the biggest benefits of allotment gardening is realising just how much better home grown produce tastes over shop bought.
Grottos are a fun and exciting way to make use of extra space in a large garden. Grottos are effectively man made caves which can host a number of different activities.
These manmade caves create a cool, dark environment perfect for resting on hot sunny days and candle lit dinners on warm evenings. Grottos usually are combined with water features in landscaping schemes.
This can come in the form of a waterfall or pond. Grottos can be built with concrete, concrete block, brick or natural stone. Typically they are set into the ground with a covering of soil for a natural look. Although an unusual garden installation grottos add a bit of fun and mystery especially for young children.
Food forests are an absolutely fantastic way to make great use of large unused gardens. In simple terms a food forest is a series of woodland plantings with an open structure that captures the suns light on many levels.
This allows you to grow many permanent and seasonal food crops with hardly any energy input. A typical food forest structure will include large fruit and nut trees followed by smaller trees, shrubs, perennial vegetables and edible tubers and herbaceous plants. Foot forests can actually be very beautiful also combining plants for pollination, wildlife and aesthetic value.
The naturalistic environment and abundant food crops also make them a great place for wildlife. Whether it’s to secure your food supply or to simply create a naturalistic, low maintenance environment, food forests are a great addition to large, expansive gardens.
Sometimes thought of as the hobby of hermits and eccentrics bee keeping can be a great way to get lots of free honey. Although on the surface this may not be thought of as a landscaping idea bees require pollen and nectar to produce there sweet bounty.
Today bee hives are readily available and combined with suitable surrounding landscapes can provide delicious honey. The flowers from which bees collect their nectar can greatly influence the taste of the honey they produce.
This means by growing different trees shrubs or even a wild flower meadow can influence the honeys subtle flavours. If you want to get into bee keeping it will be good to join your local bee keepers association.
Some of the best landscaping ideas for large gardens are the ones that actually allow you to enjoy the surrounding landscape. This usually requires having a good vantage point over the garden to enjoy the environment.
One of the most effective ways of doing this is to install raised decks. These can be built with large 150mm posts and 6x2 joists to create perfect landscape platforms. These raised decks can be perfect places to relax, read or even have garden parties.
Raised decks can be elevated into woodland canopies and combined with tree houses to provide the ultimate play or even camping experience.
Chamomile is a hardy perennial plant which grows about a foot high with feathery foliage and daisy like flowers. The flowers make a an effective tea for relaxation and sleep with a pleasant taste.
Due to Chamomiles compact habit and dense foliage it is actually perfect for creating a bushy lawn. This is known as a chamomile lawn and works very well with stepping stones. These can become an impressive landscape feature and Ideal if you intend to harvest your own Chamomile flowers for tea making.
A chamomile lawns quirky look lends itself comfortably to certain garden styles including Japanese gardens and tropical gardens.
Adventure play grounds
If you have particularly large gardens why not create something special for the children? An adventure play ground can be a great way to boost their physical fitness and provoke their imagination.
Creating an adventure playground may seem like a daunting prospect but these do not have to be intimidating. These can be as simple as natural play equipment combined with imaginative landscaping. Small woodlands can be planted with woodland walkways and even nature trails.
Tree houses and raised platforms also make fun and exciting places to play and explore. There are simply so many exciting ideas and installations to include within adventure playground landscaping.
Having a large garden can be a blessing but they can also be timely and costly to maintain. Landscaping installations that save you maintenance therefore are a welcome thing. Large patios can be fantastic places to have gatherings with family and friends.
Furthermore they can also provide the perfect maintenance free surface. Even more maintenance free than most decking large patios can save you time as well as looking amazing.
The only drawback is cost, most new patios cost at least £100 per square metre especially using natural stone. Large patios can also stage outside kitchens, hot tubs and outdoor rooms.
When visualising the perfect way to landscape a large garden a bog garden may not sound very appealing. If you have a particularly low lying or damp zone in the garden bog gardens can be beautiful and functional.
Many urbanised landscapes today have issues with drainage. This is due to our love of extensive impervious surfaces. It is much better however to keep as much excess surface run off within the boundaries of your property.
This is more ecological and reduces pressure on the drainage network. Using landform and swales water can be channelled into manmade bogs and seasonal flooding ponds. These can act as excellent wildlife habitat and actually become a landscape feature.
Pond liners can be submerged into the ground to create bog gardens where natural hydrology is scarce. These can be planted with decorative bog plants and have added features such as sunken logs and boulders.
Probably one of the most niche ways to landscape large gardens model villages can come in many forms.
If you have an interest in model making building a miniature village can become a work of landscape art! If you have ever visited a model village in person they are extremely captivating and beautiful! If you have a larger garden and struggling to find something to do that can become an interactive hobby a model garden could be the one for you.
Not only are these landscape features fun they usually start small and can become more developed over time. They can eventually grow into small towns complete with churches, rivers and even small forests and fields. If you have a passion for hobby crafts and loads of space in your garden why not start a model village this summer?
Some of the best landscaping ideas for large gardens are the ones that create a journey of discovery and provoke curiosity.
When landscaping on a large scale it can be a good thing to let nature do its thing and allow wildlife to flourish. These two fundamentals can combine to create the most exciting of all garden journeys, a nature trail. These can be a circular path or a route which connects two other garden areas.
Nature trails generally consist of dense vegetation and wildlife habitats. These combine areas of open views and enclosure for a journey of discovery. Wildlife watching huts and feeding stations can be installed to allow for more interaction with nature. Nature trails are a great way to add excitement to a large garden and especially beneficial for children.
Rain gardens are landscape schemes which harvest excess rain water from buildings, landform or a landscape drainage network. They channel this water through decorative landscaping installations such as waterfalls, swales, dry river beds and retention ponds.
In a sustainable sense rain gardens are very ecological as they allow rain water to permeate back into the landscape.
This alleviates pressure on the local drainage network in times of heavy rain. These are especially effective in larger gardens with large potential to absorb large quantities of water. As well as functional rain gardens can also look fantastic as well as create great habitat for wildlife.
If you are looking for landscaping services including design & construction please do not hesitate to contact Buckinghamshire landscape gardeners. We cover Buckinghamshire and the surrounding Chiltern area. Many typical project locations include:
Amersham, Aylesbury, Beaconsfield, Berkhamsted, Chalfont, Chesham, Gerard's Cross, Great Missenden, High Wycombe, Princes Risborough and Wendover.
Paul Nicolaides has over 30 years of recreational gardening and 20 years of professional landscaping experience. He has worked for landscape contractors including design and build practices across London and the South East. In 2006 he qualified with a BA Hons degree and post graduate diploma in Landscape Architecture. In 2009 he founded Ecospaces an ecological landscaping practice which aims to improve social cohesion and reduce climate change through landscaping. In 2016 he founded Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners which designs and builds gardens across Buckinghamshire and the South East. This blog aims to provide easy problem solving information to its audience and encourage others to take up the joy of landscaping and gardening.