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How to create a Danish-Scandinavian style garden

Want to transform your outdoor space into a cozy, Scandi-inspired haven?

It all starts with hygge.

Hygge is a Danish word that describes a sense of coziness, comfort, and contentment. There really is no English equivalent.

It refers to an atmosphere or experience that creates feelings of warmth, contentment, and happiness. Hygge can be anything from the cozy feeling of watching a movie together with your kids, to the feeling you get when you’re enjoying a cup of coffee on a cool spring morning.

When it comes to creating a Scandinavian-style garden, think about hygge as taking time to appreciate and savor the small things in life. That’s what you want to put into your garden — you want to create a space that makes you want to relax and appreciate life.

Rum I Haven Garden design
Picture from Rum I Haven (

What is a Scandinavian style garden?

While hygge is important, it’s maybe too abstract to begin with, so let’s start with the basics.

Scandi-inspired gardens all have simple lines, clean colors, natural wood, and natural planting. All of these things make the overall space easy on the eyes and inviting. There are no brash colors or over-the-top statues or structures that compete for attention. Everything is in balance.

Go with natural and minimalism and you’ll be fine. Always.

Here in Denmark, our summers are rather cool, but we have long days of sunshine. We take advantage of every corner of our outdoor spaces because our winters are so long and dark.

Remember to not waste space, but to make every inch somewhere you would be happy to visit on a long, sunny summer afternoon.

Wild planting that takes you back to nature

There are a variety of plants you can include in your garden if you want Scandinavian flavor, whether you’re planting in containers or laying out your borders.

The national flower of Denmark is the Marguerite Daisy. It’s easy to grow and gives your garden an instant feeling of being wild and free. I bet it would work in your garden, too. Basically any plant that brings bees, butterflies and other pollinators to your garden is a welcomed addition.

Coneflowers, Hollyhocks and even lupines (although they are considered invasive) dot the countryside and look great planted in Danish gardens. Lavender is another gorgeous purple perennial that gives your garden an instant Scandi feel.

And you can’t forget strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, dill and even parsley.

Danish and Scandinavian gardens love to mix flowers with edible food plants like berries and herbs — it’s another way we bring hygge to our outdoor spaces and make you want to stay outside for longer.

photo from rum i haven garden design
Picture from Rum I Haven (

Scandi garden design style

Here are 6 simple ways to help you transform your outdoor space into a Scandinavian-Danish dream garden.

1. Choose your spot

First, decide which area of your outdoor space you want to work on. Ideally, pick a spot that gets plenty of sunshine.

Then, define the space with seating, flooring, cushions, and large planted containers. You can even add wall art (but nothing too flashy) or a canvas awning for shade on hot days.

2. Upgrade your patio or terrace

If you have a patio or raised deck, turn it into a hygge-filled seating area with cushions, throws, fairy lights, hammocks, or lanterns.

Remember that minimalism is key in Scandinavian design, so don't go overboard with accessories. Do play with textures and keep the colors neutral — don’t choose anything that competes with the beauty of the outdoors. Think in beige, soft whites, creams, grays and browns.

Don't forget to add a dining table and chairs. In the summer, we take every advantage of the long sunny days and eat outside as much as possible.

photo from rum i haven garden design
Picture from Rum I Haven (

3. Transform your garden shed or greenhouse

Give your garden shed or greenhouse a good cleaning and then turn it into a cozy retreat for a rainy summer afternoon.

If you’re painting the shed, go for monochromatic (or tonal) shades of white, gray and neutral colors. Add darker and natural colors in furnishings and layered textiles.

If it’s your greenhouse, add some fairy lights and a garden chair or two and enjoy the warmth of being inside, yet outside, on a cool summer’s night.

4. Add lighting

Lighting is a major factor in Danish hygge. From candles indoors to fairy lights outside, we love mood lighting. Use fairy lights or outdoor lanterns to cozy up your space. Always go for a soft yellow glow (not a bright white) to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Add candles to the table in different sizes and styles.

When it comes to candles, use a variety of candles and candle holders. Take a trip to the local Red Cross or Salvation Army store and buy tea light candle holders and holders for stick candles. This eclectic mix will give your outdoor space a ‘lived-in’ look… and that’s super hygge.

Here’s a quick and easy candle holder that you can make. All it takes is some quick-drying clay and a little time.

5. Go with natural textures

Scandinavian garden design is inspired by nature, so incorporate natural textures like rattan, wicker, stone, and linen into your blankets and seat cushions. Stick to a cool and calm color palette, such as white, grays, and soft beige hues.

Let the plants, fairy lights and candles (at night) be the star of the show.

6. Turn your tiny balcony into a Danish escape

If you don’t have a huge garden to play with, you can still follow the ideas above to create a cozy, inviting space. Since you’ll need to choose containers only, go with natural materials like terra cotta. These add warmth to your space and are easy to take care of.

To create height on your balcony, go with tall grasses like Red Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum'). The color is very Scandi-inspired and the movement of the grass in the breeze is calming and beautiful to watch — exactly what you want in your outdoor space.


Welcome to my garden

Hi! I'm Lars (Denmark).

Thanks for joining me as I share tips and inspiration for perennial gardening. 

Click below to see what's growing in my garden right now? 

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