The Borrowed Landscape

Yesterday’s post talked about choosing a garden style and while you may have already thought of ideas along these lines, there’s probably one more still to consider. This idea is termed the “borrowed landscape” and it means exactly what it infers.

The philosophy behind borrowed landscapes is to incorporate your garden design into the natural surroundings that can be viewed on the other side of your fences. Visual elements such as mountain ranges and hills, trees, shrubs and climbers can all be included in your overall garden design.

However, like all things there are pros and cons to using the borrowed landscape.

The Benefits of a Borrowed Landscape

The benefits of utilising the borrowed landscape are fairly obvious. Firstly, by tying your garden design in with what can already be viewed over your fences aids in keeping the look natural. If you do it well enough it can actually all seem part of your garden and that your plantings just merge in with current vistas.

Secondly, if you’re starting with a new garden then being able to incorporate a borrowed landscape of trees can add some maturity to your design. Your garden may only be a few years old but take on the appearance of being old by highlighting the neighbour’s mature trees.

Finally, you may be able to take advantage of different flowering seasons. If there is a tree in the neighbour’s yard that flowers prolifically every winter, then design your garden to highlight this. Don’t try and compete with it by adding flowers that will draw your attention away from it but rather compliment the tree with others that will flower as it finishes.

The Pitfalls of a Borrowed Landscape

Obviously, the greatest pitfall when incorporating a borrowed landscape into your garden design is your lack of control over it. The neighbour may remove the tree you wanted to focus on or a property developer builds in front of your mountain view. You have no control over a borrowed landscape and while you may enjoy it for a period, there may come a time when you must redesign your garden because it’s now no longer available.

This lack of control also extends to pests and diseases and the fact that in most cases you won’t be able to remedy the situation. If your neighbour doesn’t treat the fungus growing through their hedge of conifers then you will be powerless to change it.

Another pitfall is that you may not actually like the borrowed landscape. It may be exactly what you don’t like to look at and then you will need to screen your fences so that the view is blocked out.

Privacy can also become a factor in considering the use of a borrowed landscape. If you’re trying to keep everything low so that you can enjoy the views just remember that others will be able to see into your garden as well.

Wrapping it all up

Weighing up the pros and cons of utilising your borrowed landscape will be an individual decision as there are many factors to consider. What may work for one garden can’t be expected in another.

As you have been doing with the garden design, think it through carefully and use it only if you think it will be beneficial. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Additionally, we participates in various other affiliate programs, and we sometimes get a commission through purchases made through our links.