From Japanese gardens: ‘Borrowed landscape’ lets you expand your yard’s horizons– for free

If your garden or yard is feeling too small, expand your horizons without buying another square inch of property or doing much work. Just borrow some landscape.

“Borrowed landscape” is a technique frequently used in designing Japanese gardens, where it is called shakkei, but it can be employed in any garden style. The idea is to incorporate distant elements of the surrounding landscape into your own, creating the feeling of greater space.

You could reap a feeling of infinite space if that distant element is a mountain or ocean that stretches all the way to the horizon. Or you could just borrow a bit of scenery from your neighbour’s yard – an attractive clump of birch or larch trees, a grape arbour or a pergola dripping with wisteria blooms, for example.


First, look around to see what you’d like to borrow. Ideally, this should be done before you plan or plant anything, even before you’ve moved any dirt or stones around in your own garden. But it’s usually not difficult to borrow landscape even into an existing garden.

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