Landscaping ideas: 25 ways to transform your garden with levels, walls, floors, and more

Planning a garden update? Our favourite landscaping ideas are just what you need to give your plot tons of interest at every level

landscaping ideas with paving, planting and garden building
(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future)

Good landscaping ideas are crucial for taking a garden from drab to fab. After all, even the most beautifully planted plot needs a decent structure to begin with for it to really have the wow factor.

So, forget about flowers and foliage just for one moment: we're getting back to the bare bones of an outdoor space here. Think walls and screens for dividing zones, stretches of water for soothing focal points, stepping stone pathways, floating benches, and other statement design features. There are all kinds of materials you can choose from too – sleek porcelain pavers or natural stone, for instance – all of which will affect the overall look and mood of the space. And it's not all about the visuals. You'll find that the best landscaping ideas not only improve the aesthetic appeal of your plot but will help you make the most of it, too.

From quick additions and DIY jobs to bigger, call-in-a-builder projects, we've got ideas for all styles and budgets below. And if you're on the lookout for even more ways to transform your space, you'll find plenty of choice in our garden design ideas feature.

25 stylish landscaping ideas for your outdoor space

These landscaping ideas are sure to inspire. So grab a cuppa, sit back and have a browse – perhaps you'll find a look to recreate in your own garden.

1. Add an eye-catching path between zones

path, raised beds and lawn in modern garden

This path connects a raised deck to a patio space

(Image credit: Future)

Paths tend to be a crucial factor in a landscaping design, leading the way from A to B.  And there are plenty of ways to get creative with them – from the shape and form they take to the materials you use. 

Think about the affect different types of path will have on the way you move across your plot. A meandering, stepping stone pathway around flowerbeds feels relaxed and will encourage a sense of play, for instance. Meanwhile, a sleek decked walkway with recessed lights is a practical solution for areas of heavy traffic. 

This example provides easy access to the raised beds and decked zone, without the need to walk on the lawn (perfect for when it's raining or frosty). It looks great too – we love the mix of timber sleepers and gravel with the smart stone edge. And tucking it to the side is a wise move – positioning a path right down the middle of your plot is a common landscaping mistake that is seldom practical.

We have plenty more garden path ideas in our guide if you're on the lookout for more suggestions.

2. Cool off with a pool

modern garden with pool and lawn

A sleek pool fits in beautifully with this modern scheme

(Image credit: Future)

Have you ever considered bringing some pool ideas to your plot? Whether you want to host the best parties in town or simply get in some more exercise, they're a lovely addition to a garden when the weather warms.

You can go for round shapes, square shapes, the classic kidney bean, or even a natural pool if you're not too keen on chemicals (plus, due to all the planting, they look gorgeous all year round). This rectangular design, however, works well with its contemporary surroundings, tying in neatly with the lawn, clipped hedges, and sleek exterior of the home.

There are plenty more pool landscaping ideas in our feature.

3. Go for low-maintenance gravel

raised gravel garden in period property

Gravel can make the perfect ground cover for traditional plots

(Image credit: Clive Nichols/Future)

If you're looking for an easy ground cover that's affordable, too, garden gravel ideas are a fantastic way forward. They're simple to install, are great at soaking up rainwater, and there's none of the fuss of mowing that you'd get with a lawn.

Gravel is also super versatile, complementing both modern plots and period properties, like the example above. What's more, you can plant straight into it – there are all kinds of drought-tolerant picks that will be right at home in their stony surroundings.

We like how this gravelled space has been raised, providing additional interest to the layout of the garden. The rustic stone edging makes a lovely touch, and ties in beautifully with the traditional planters.

4. Shelter a seating spot with a colourful screen

blue screen wall with dining set up and bamboo

This bright blue screen adds privacy and style

(Image credit: Adrian Briscoe/Future)

When you plan your garden layout, you may wish to make some areas more private than others with the help of screens. Plus, dividing a space up into separate zones in this way will make it feel more enticing to explore and can also make your plot seem bigger.

There are all kinds of garden screening ideas you can use – from dense planting and woven panels to trellises and walls – so pick one that will complement your theme. A bright blue wall is a great choice for this garden, adding an element of freshness and fun whilst keeping the dining space sheltered from the house beyond.

Painting an existing wall or fence a vibrant new shade is also a great option if you're on the lookout for cheap landscaping ideas – and there are lots more budget-friendly suggestions in our guide.

5. Extend your living space with a covered patio

raised patio under veranda with hanging chair

With a set-up like this, you can enjoy sitting outdoors even if it's raining

(Image credit: Joanna Henderson/Future)

Making the most of your outdoor space is easy if you have a cover installed, whether that's a gazebo, garden building, or simply a roof that's built directly onto the side of your home. So if you're including a patio or deck in your landscaping scheme, it's well worth considering a shelter overhead.

If you're not strictly after shade, opt for a clear roof to keep the scene bright and light. Plus, that way you can look up and admire the blue sky, pattering rain, or the nighttime stars. And if it's sturdy enough, you can utilise overhead beams when it comes to your furniture – a hanging chair is one of this year's must-haves.

You can find more enclosed patio ideas in our feature.

6. Keep it natural

'Bodmin Jail: 60° East – A Garden between Continents' by Ekaterina Zasukhina with Carly Kershaw at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021

(Image credit: RHS/Neil Hepworth)

Creating a more naturalistic garden landscape is becoming an increasingly popular trend. And it's not just good for wildlife – transforming your plot into your own private oasis, reminiscent of woodlands or mountains, is bound to soothe the soul.

Why not take inspiration from this gorgeous show garden spotted at RHS Chelsea Flower Show? You can recreate the vibe at home by introducing some landscaping ideas with rocks, wilder pockets of planting, meandering pathways, and perhaps even a waterfall.

7. Zone your plot with clean lines

modern garden with seating and garden building

Sleek materials give this plot a modern vibe

(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future)

We're loving how this clever mid-height wall serves a multitude of purpose. Sure, its crisp white edges look great, adding to the plot's modern look and complementing the nearby alliums. But it also helps to zone the space, dividing the seating area from the surrounding beds. What's more, it serves as a support for the floating benches, which offer a pared-back, zen-like feel.

The stepping stone pathway adds to the contemporary vibe, whilst drawing the eye down to the garden building, raised up onto a sleek deck. Don't miss the panelled fence too, where more clean lines help to elongate the space.

Need more inspiration? Our garden wall ideas feature is full of stunning designs.

8. Transform an urban terrace

urban roof terrace designed by Bowles & Wyer

This cool city garden was created by Bowles & Wyer

(Image credit: Paul Upward/Bowles & Wyer)

Even in the midst of a concrete jungle, you can create your own relaxing oasis. Take the above as an example. 

Chic grey paving makes a striking contrast against softer strips of planting, which add an extra dose of visual interest. Meanwhile, the lighting around the steps elevates the look come nightfall (and is also handy for safety reasons). 

The pergola offers a sense of privacy from above, and pairs beautifully with the wooden decking to create a retreat for alfresco dining. Fancy making your garden feel more exclusive? Our garden privacy ideas have more inspiration.

9. Make a pond your focal point

'The Silent Pool Gin Garden', designed by David Neale for RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018

'The Silent Pool Gin Garden', designed by David Neale for RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018

(Image credit: Sarah Cuttle/RHS)

A garden pond is a landscaping feature that's well worth introducing, if you can. It will help attract wildlife, and the sight of water and aquatic plants will add another dimension of pleasure to your outdoor space. If you have the room, you can dig out the pond and add a liner (our guide on how to build a garden pond will help you get started). Or, you can get pre-formed pond liners in a range of sizes if you prefer.

If you want to keep your pond looking modern, opt for angular shapes, like in the example above. Add a raised platform to show off an eye-catching sculpture – this one makes a fabulous finishing touch. A thin border of paving to the left of the water means that flowerbeds can still be accessed for maintenance.

10. Add detail to walkways

planted walkway in garden by Bowles & Wyer

We love this planted walkway in a garden by Bowles & Wyer

(Image credit: Paul Upward/Bowles & Wyer)

For small gardens, every inch of space counts. And with clever landscaping ideas, you can make even your pathways feel intriguing. 

This narrow walkway above incorporates a plethora of textures. The panelled wood flooring is horizontally aligned to make the space feel wider, whilst paved stepping stones add an element of playfulness. Of course, the real show-stopping detail is the soft mounds of dense, ground-covering foliage. It's a surprising feature that will bring delight to anyone who passes by, and is a great way to add interest.

11. Create a garden 'room' with levels

paved steps leading to seating area

Use levels to separate zones in your plot

(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future)

Creating 'rooms' in your garden is a well-known landscaping trick. Not only does it establish spaces for different types of use – eating, relaxing, growing vegetables, etc – but it can also make a plot feel bigger.

So, if your plot is on a slope, then why not use the levels to your advantage? This design uses wide steps to lead up from a container patio space to a seating spot, perfect for entertaining. 

This difference in levels makes the zones more distinct. Plus, by adding tons of leafy foliage and small trees, both areas are given a sense of privacy, too. We have plenty more inspiration on making the most of your plot in our sloping garden ideas feature.

12. Elevate the view

lighting across garden levels in plot by Bowles & Wyer

We love this striking design from Bowles & Wyer

(Image credit: Bowles & Wyer)

Speaking of levels, how's this for a show-stopping idea? This countryside plot features different levels of planting, which can be viewed from the various levels of the property, explains the team at Bowles & Wyer

It's a brilliantly immersive design and will also keep the seating area at ground level sheltered from high winds. Don't forget to factor in the lighting when planning a new landscaping look – our garden lighting ideas have tons of inspiration.

13. Go for wide pathways

pathway with lavender from Bowles & Wyer

Pretty lavender lines this pathway in a plot by Bowles & Wyer

(Image credit: Bowles & Wyer)

Landscaping features aren't reserved for uber-modern plots, as shown in this gorgeous country-style garden. This wide, paved pathway creates a beautiful feature in itself, making the journey from zone to zone a delight, every time. 

Its soft, pale hue gives it a welcoming tone, whilst accentuating the prettily dappled shadows of the nearby row of trees. What's more, lining paths with lavender provides robust and scented planting as you walk past, as says the team at Bowles & Wyer. 

Looking for another way to define your paths? You can find more garden edging ideas in our feature.

14. Create modern backdrops for garden furniture

modern chairs on paving in garden designed by Lucy Wilcox Garden Design

Make a feature of your furniture, like in this garden by Lucy Wilcox Garden Design

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny/Lucy Wilcox Garden Design/Future)

Have you recently treated yourself to some stylish garden furniture? Then why not show it off by creating a distinct backdrop behind your seating spot?

This cool grey colour adds an urban edge whilst allowing the designs to take centre stage with their intricate woven structure. What's more, the difference in materials helps to distinguish the zone, giving the plot more structure and direction.

If you're not a fan of grey, then you could pick something bold instead – try ochre yellow, raspberry pink, or cobalt blue, for example.

15. Add pattern underfoot

patterned floor tiles used on an outdoor patio

(Image credit: Walls and Floors)

Garden paving doesn't have to be plain. Adding a patterned design is an easy way to transform a small back garden that doesn't have grass, or zone off part of a bigger plot. 

Make sure any patterned tiles you choose are suitable for outdoor areas – porcelain designs are usually your best bet. They need to withstand frost, be durable enough for garden life and offer some level of slip resistance for added safety when wet.

16. Incorporate raised decking

raised decked area with a garden sofa set

A smart set-up from John Lewis

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

It's easy to create different levels with decking ideas, and it's a subtle way to make distinct zones for different garden activities. Here, there's a step up from the lower deck to the raised relaxation space while the lower area steps down to garden level.

A deck doesn't have to be multi-tiered if you don’t have space, of course. A single raised deck can create a flat and level dining area immediately outside the house or at the end of the garden. 

Do bear in mind that if your deck is more than 30cm (11.8in) above the ground it doesn't fall under permitted development and you'll need to apply for planning permission. This is at least the case in the UK, but it's always worth double checking, wherever you are in the world.

17. Bring in curves

curved lawn in garden by bowles & wyer

Sweeping curves draw the eye in this garden by Bowles & Wyer

(Image credit: Paul Upward/Bowles & Wyer)

It's easy to think in straight lines when it comes to garden landscaping, but introducing curves can soften the look. 

There are plenty of opportunities to add curves: you could give your lawn a curving shape as seen in this garden, dig curved borders, or make a path meander rather than point straight ahead. Even the tops of fences could be curved rather than horizontal. 

The team at Bowles & Wyer explain how a curved lawn was used for this London property to make the space feel more organic and flowing.

18. Build in a bench

built-in bench used for modern garden planters holding cacti

These vibrant garden planters are from Habitat

(Image credit: Habitat)

Garden seating can be built-in as well as freestanding. It's a top option for smaller gardens as it's more space efficient. Plus, you don't have to worry about storage over the winter. Don't just save it for seating, though – a bench is also the perfect place to show off plants. 

For maximum impact, pick your planters' proportions to fit the space – too many small pots could look chaotic. A hit of colour will make them more of a feature, too, as will choosing strong shapes. We've got plenty of gorgeous designs in our garden planter ideas feature.

19. Take polished concrete outside

Pale grey porcelain paving from Bradstone

(Image credit: Bradstone)

Think about making your garden landscaping as contemporary as the inside of your home with modern paving ideas. If you're a fan of polished concrete, you can get the look in your garden with porcelain paving, which is both durable and easy to care for. It won't fade either.

This paving has a varied colour blend to replicate the appearance of sleek polished concrete. Mosaic designs mixed in at random add extra visual appeal.

20. Make a statement with a pergola

Garden pergola with integrated awning

(Image credit: Harrod Horticultural)

Pay attention to the vertical space when planning your landscaping ideas. A pergola is a brilliant way to make the most of it, and will make a deck or paved area feel like an outdoor room by framing it and drawing the eye upwards.

You could also consider a design with awning to create more shade, or think about growing climbing plants up the side for a more romantic touch. Those with fragrance can add an extra dimension.

There are lots more pergola ideas in our guide.

21. Swap in modern fencing

slatted wooden garden fence

These fence panels are from Homebase

(Image credit: Homebase)

Horizontal slatted fence panels have a contemporary style that can give your garden a whole new feel. A design like this can introduce more daylight to your outside space too, as it'll let the light through rather than blocking it. It can also allow a cooling breeze in, which you'll appreciate on hot summer days. 

Bear in mind, though, that although it will obscure you somewhat it won't create complete privacy. If that's what you need at the boundary, try using this style of fence as screening within the garden instead.

After more inspiration? You'll find more garden fence ideas in our guide.

22. Lay artificial turf

Artificial lawn with seating area

Artificial grass from Carpetright works well in this modern plot

(Image credit: Carpetright)

True, artificial grass has its fans and its detractors. But we think it's a brilliant landscaping solution for small gardens and bigger ones that get a lot of family and pet wear and tear. 

It'll keep things green and soft underfoot, but won't need mowing (and if you haven't got the space to store a mower that's a huge plus point). It won't turn to mud or get parched when the rain doesn't fall either. 

After more easy-care tips? Head over to our low maintenance garden ideas.

23. Consider textural finishes

Bistro set and parasol in front of a slate garden wall

A dark-hued wall adds a textural twist to this scene

(Image credit: Dunelm)

You don't have to build a wall from stone to enjoy the beauty and tactility of the landscaping material in your garden. Cladding can be added to boring brick boundaries to give them a fresh lease of life, or used to help create a screen, as seen here.

Although it's a thin layer, cladding will make the wall appear to be solid stone, and it can dress up low walls as well as full height versions. There are lots of different stone effects, too, so you can get a contemporary or more rustic look.

24. Add in a water feature

Upright water feature in a modern garden

This cascading water feature is from Lime Lace

(Image credit: Lime Lace)

You might not have the space to dig a pond, but water features can be added to your garden landscaping in all but the tiniest of outdoor spaces. 

This one above has LED lighting so it'll be a feature by night as well as in the daytime. And, it's light-weight, and comes as an easy-to-install kit. It has modern good looks too, and will work well in a contemporary garden design.

25. Bring back Victorian style

patterned Victorian style paving

(Image credit: Tile Mountain)

Lucky enough to live in a Victorian home? Many period properties have lost their original tiling along the way, but it's worth bringing back the traditional paving to improve the landscaping for your front garden

These tiles seen above are an authentic replica of the real thing, but they're made from hard-wearing porcelain that'll look good for years to come.

How do you design your garden's landscape?

Designing a landscaping scheme can feel daunting, but there are a few simple steps to make the process more manageable. With these tips, you'll have the plot of your dreams in no time.

  • First, you'll need to measure your space and draw up a plan. Jot down any large features that are going to stay – perhaps existing trees or a patio, for example. Also, note which areas get the most sun throughout the day, areas that are more overlooked, and any spots which have different soil types – this will help you plan what goes where.
  • Next, think about how you want to use your space. Perhaps you're brimming with family garden ideas, maybe you want an outdoor kitchen, or perhaps you want to grow your own crops. Map them out on your plan, starting with the larger, most important details and working down to smaller features.
  • Think about how you want to define your zones, perhaps with fences or screens, and add pathways into your plan too so you can get from place to place easily.
  • When choosing your materials, consider the overall theme you wish to create and ensure they complement one another. It's also a good idea to pick finishes that complement the exterior of your home for a harmonious look.

contemporary courtyard with garden room

You can break up a patio with softer planting for a more natural style

(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future)
  • If you decide to use paving in your outdoor space, consider your options carefully. As the experts at Homebase say, 'The colour, style and arrangement of your paving can provide a really strong design direction for the whole garden space.' Think about how they will fit into your planting palette – grey or white stones look fantastic with purple and white blooms, the team adds, whilst black and silver paving works well with stronger, brighter shades. Warm-toned paving tends to work best with flowers that have muted, soft tones – think pinks and light purples.
  • 'To keep the entertainment going after the sun goes down, add a form of outdoor heating,' suggests Homebase. 'A fire pit or chiminea are both great options – plus s’mores always make for a great dessert!' Alternatively, an outdoor fireplace is a great way to make a statement. And don't forget about lighting which can really bring a garden to life when night falls (and is practical, too).
Sarah Warwick
Sarah Warwick

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She's spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes and gardens – long enough to see interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement, both indoors and out, and it's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, so she's a serial house revamper.