Garden makeover: a low maintenance garden full of clever design ideas

Once just a drab patch of lawn, this redesigned garden has been transformed into the perfect space for gathering with friends. Take a look to see how it was done

redesigned garden
(Image credit: Future/Colin Poole)

A redesigned garden usually means extending your living space as a priority especially now when we’re all spending much more time at home. When the owners of this garden decided to revamp the uninspiring space they inherited when they moved in, high on their list of must-haves was an outdoor living area where they could stay outside late into the evening socialising with friends. Low-maintenance planting was also important to them as well as a relaxing water feature to add a laidback vibe. The result of their makeover is the dream garden they hoped for.

Keep reading to find out how this stunning garden transformation was achieved, then head over to our garden design ideas for more ways to update your own space.

The original garden and how it looked before

before shot of a garden makeover

(Image credit: Future)

The urban garden was a drab and uninspiring space featuring a mossy lawn edged with overgrown shrubs and not much else. Most of it was overshadowed by trees, which meant that it was gloomy and little grew in it. But it was quite spacious for a town garden so presented the ideal opportunity for a complete garden overhaul.

The plan for the redesign

alfresco seating area

The seating area is a perfect space for relaxing

(Image credit: Future/Colin Poole)

The owners wanted to strip the whole garden back and start from scratch to turn it into a multifunctional extra living space. Their main priority was to spend as much time outside as possible, but they also wanted to incorporate plenty of low-maintenance garden ideas. Landscaping company Belsize Gardens removed most of the trees to let in some light. Designer Miles Raybould helped them plan a paved garden, broken up with clusters of plants that would add height and texture but require little attention. Things were kept simple, focusing on interesting foliage and white flowers, and hydrangeas form the backbone of the planting scheme.

The owners wanted to be able to sit outdoors for as long as possible in the evening when they have friends round too. The seating area has comfortable teak loungers and a rustic bench that doubles as log storage for the fire pit. Ivy will quickly cover the surrounding fences, turning this into a calm, green retreat that feels secluded, crucial in an urban garden. 

Looking for ideas for your own fences? Our garden fence ideas feature has plenty of options.

Adding privacy with a living wall

living wall for privacy

Living walls green up urban spaces fast

(Image credit: Future/Colin Poole)

Greening up boundaries is a real trend at the moment. The new living wall in the garden makes a soft, green backdrop for the dining area and helps to screen the area too. The owners saw the idea online and thought it looked really attractive and fabulous for creating privacy. Lush and verdant ferns, grasses and periwinkles flourish here, and any gaps that appear are easy to fill with annuals. Head over to our guide to creating a living wall for top tips on how to design one in your garden. 

Creating an alfresco cooking area

outdoor cooking area

The outdoor kitchen is sleek and contemporary

(Image credit: Future/Colin Poole)

The homeowners are serious foodies, so incorporating some of the latest outdoor kitchen ideas into their new space was high on their wishlist. The built-in structure not only holds the barbecue itself but also has a surface for preparing food. There are built-in shelves that provide extra storage for an array of outdoor necessities including chunky logs for their outdoor fire pit. The family opted for metal furniture as it's weatherproof and can be left outside all year round.

Introducing a clever planting scheme 

low maintenance planting

Airy grasses add shape and structure to the garden while hydrangeas are the dominant blooms

(Image credit: Future/Colin Poole)

In a mostly green garden, low-effort ornamental grasses help to create contrast with leafier plants. They bring height, texture and movement to the space, and their pretty seed heads add extra softness to the hard landscaping. Hydrangeas are tough, low-maintenance and look right in both urban and rural gardens. 

Adding a relaxing water feature

urban water feature

This sleek Corten steel water feature adds a designer look

(Image credit: Future/Colin Poole)

Introducing some water feature ideas was important for the owners as they wanted to create a relaxing vibe. They opted for a Corten steel design that just looks better and better as it weathers in. Corten steel is perfect for modern garden ideas and contemporary planting schemes and as the orange hue looks stunning as a backdrop for greenery.

Creating an outdoor room

garden cabin

Inspired idea – the garden cabin has a wine fridge

(Image credit: Future/Colin Poole)

Weathered brick walls and an old cherry tree were integrated into the design, instantly lending the garden an established feel. The garden studio extends the couple’s living area, as it’s furnished with comfortable seating and a wine fridge. A central water feature ties the layout together. Wall toppers in slatted wood add height for privacy and update the old brick for a more modern look. 

Like what you've seen? Head over to our feature on how to plan your garden design for brilliant advice on creating your own dream space. 

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Sarah Wilson
Content Editor

Lifestyle journalist Sarah Wilson has been writing about gardens since 2015. She's written for, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Easy Gardens and Modern Gardens magazines. Having studied introductory garden and landscape design, she is currently putting the skills learned to good use in her own space where the dream is establishing a cutting garden.