Imagine if you arrived at a wedding ceremony and the bride and groom were already waiting at the altar. For some occasions, a grand entrance is an important part of the experience. After putting so much effort into carefully planning your garden, planting your annuals, and keeping everything looking neat and healthy, your garden deserves a beautiful first impression. From the first time you lead a guest into the space, to the thousandth time you step inside, your garden should always deliver that inviting 'Wow!' factor-and it starts with a gorgeous gateway.
When you think of a dreamy garden gateway, a garden arbor is likely the first thing to come to mind. Arbors and garden arches are very similar in concept, but an arbor tends to have a trellis built into the structure to give climbing vines more of a "ladder" to which to cling.
Wooden garden arches have a lovely natural quality to them, which looks beautiful against tendrils of draping vines. A simple neutral stain in a slightly warm shade looks great with flowers of any color. Clematis are especially gorgeous on these structures.
If the look of wood doesn't fit your home's exterior design, metal garden arches are available in a huge range of finishes. Black or white wrought iron are timeless looks that blend beautifully with a more traditional, formal aesthetic.
Trellises are an easy structure to incorporate into any garden design. They can be highly compact or span the entire exterior of your home, and they're available in every material and price point. To create a simple gateway to your garden, you can simply arrange two trellises in large pots at the entrance to your garden. First, add a few cheerful flowers, like petunias and alyssum, near the front of the pots. Then plant the trellis toward the back of the pot, deep enough that it remains stable, and plant a flowering climbing vine at the base, such as black-eyed Susan, to creep up the trellis. Over the course of the summer, your easy DIY gateway will only get more beautiful as the vine entwines around the trellis.
Retaining walls are both beautiful and functional ways to create a natural entrance into the garden. While building a retaining wall is a bit more of an investment, a well-built one will last for years and add dimension to your garden by adding another level of height. You can create a gorgeous gateway with your retaining wall design by planning a door formation within the wall. Some gardeners use statuary to enhance the symmetry of these gateways-for example, placing two matching concrete statues in front of the retaining wall to create a more stately entryway.
Retaining walls go hand-in-hand with garden paths. While retaining walls look great on their own as borders along your garden, you can truly transform the entrance to the space by adding a path to lead guests through your garden. Pathways draw the eye through it and establish a walking area to keep your lawn intact. You don't have to spend an arm and a leg to create an attractive path either. Some cost-effective garden path ideas involve using stepping stones, gravel, or even wood mulch.
Of course, any conversation about gateways has to include fencing. Functional fencing, like privacy fencing, is a major upgrade to your landscape and can become very costly to install. However, you can install a decorative garden fence easily and inexpensively to create a visual barrier around your garden. Wire fencing is available in ornate patterns, or you can use lattice fence panels for a vine-friendly rustic look.
For an even more budget-friendly solution that focuses on the entryway, try creating twin plots with fence panels spaced far enough apart for two people to pass through walking abreast. The twin garden plots will create a natural gateway into the space, as people naturally gravitate toward openings between visual barriers. You can get creative with the planting space inside the plots with plants in assorted heights, or simply add other structural features-like trellises-to add even more visual interest.
If your goal is to really impress, try these landscaping tricks:
Add ornamental trees as they give structure to your landscape design. Try placing compact trees three person-widths apart at the entrance to your garden, or plant them along your pathway into the garden to create a natural canopy.
To create a conversation area for maximum impact, place a conversation set within the direct sightline of anyone who is standing at the entrance to your garden. Seeing the chairs waiting just beyond the garden gateway instantly makes the whole garden feel cozier.
Build an arbor tunnel by placing a few arbors next to each other to create a longer entrance into the garden. Especially once they're good and covered in vines, the canopy effect will make guests feel like they're stepping into another world.
Just like the entryway to your home, the entrance to your garden sets the tone for how the space will feel on the inside. Adding a little personality to your garden gateway can make your backyard feel like a private escape to which you'll always want to come back.