Garden decor ideas: 10 fabulous ways to decorate your outdoor space

Make alfresco occasions extra special with these garden decor ideas – from funky tableware to colorful lanterns and more

garden decor ideas: paper lanterns and patterned details on outdoor table
(Image credit: Simon Scarboro/Future)

Garden decor ideas are a lovely way to give your outdoor space a more magical feel. They're certainly worth thinking about for the warmer months when a lawn or patio can provide the perfect backdrop for special occasions.

After all, when the sun is shining and your prized borders are at their best, why keep the party restricted to indoors? Our gardens have become important extensions of our homes and now, with the likes of stunning seating, outdoor fireplaces and ambient lighting, they are destined for entertaining friends and family. So, if you have a birthday or anniversary on the horizon, or even if you just want to celebrate for no real reason at all (why not!), then these garden decor ideas will help you curate a gorgeous setting.

From paper lanterns and floral themes to monochrome looks and stylish dinnerware, we've rounded up lots of pretty designs that'll get you inspired for your next big – or small – do. So take a look, find your favorites, and get ready to transform the best garden furniture with these inspiring ideas. We guarantee they will get you excited about throwing an enchanting bash that your guests will love.

1. Hang patterned shades over an outdoor table

garden decor ideas: hanging patterned lampshades from Mindthegap

Bring bold colors and charming prints into your garden decor ideas, such as these embroidered pendants from Mindthegap

(Image credit: Mindthegap)

Patterned shades aren't just for lamps indoors. Hung from a tree or a pergola, they can bring a gorgeous indoor-outdoor feel to your garden celebrations.

These patterned numbers are utterly charming and we love the bright red tassel details. Complementary cushions and tableware add to the folk-art theme and create a bold set-up that's perfect for a get-together with friends.

For extra style points, choose your cut flowers to match the color scheme. These white hydrangeas and hypericum berries are a great match (although be careful they don't get too close to food – as it turns out that both are poisonous).

Looking for more laid-back looks with an artsy vibe? Check out our bohemian garden ideas.

2. Create a charming summer scene beneath a canopy

garden decor ideas: shade sail over outdoor dining table

Shelter your outdoor dining spot

(Image credit: Dan Duchars/Future)

It's amazing how the simple act of moving furniture away from its usual place can make a space feel refreshed. So, try placing your patio table on the lawn, or bringing your indoor dining table outdoors for the day.

For long, wooden tables, opt for horizontally-laid runners rather than tablecloths. That way, you can still protect the surface and add a patterned pop of color, but the exposed natural material will offer a rustic edge. A pair of oversized vases filled with flowers makes for pretty centerpieces. Try long-lasting waxflowers for their delicate blossoms, then bring them indoors to enjoy once the party's over.

The perfect finishing touch to this summery scene has to be the canopy overhead. Not only will it help to define the special dining zone, but it will also protect you and your guests from the sun's midday glare. A white design like this will keep things feeling light and airy.

3. Try a monochrome theme for an air of elegance

garden decor ideas: hanging lights and monochrome theme

Flowery fairy lights are a lovely choice if you're looking for whimsical garden decor ideas

(Image credit: Lizzie Orme/Future)

A monochrome palette is a failsafe choice for elegant entertaining. Add a white lace tablecloth for a vintage touch, whilst a cluster of glass candle holders ups the romance factor. 

For us, the real pièce de résistance here has to be the tumbling flower-shaped fairy lights, which add a magical essence to the scene. To recreate the look, suspend them from a pergola, or even an overhanging tree branch – although make sure they're not too close to the open candle flames beneath.

Just add a nice glass of vino and some good company and you're all set for an enjoyable evening.

4. Embrace flower power for your garden decor ideas

garden decor ideas: floral patterns on dining table

Vibrant paper decorations are a simple way to make a fun statement

(Image credit: Simon Scarboro/Future)

Floral patterns will always be in vogue when it comes to garden decor ideas.

Layer up different sized tablecloths for an eclectic look – this white cut-out design looks stunning across the colorful print beneath. Cute chair covers with pom-pom details and matching cushions elevate even the most basic of bistro chairs and will make them comfier to sit on, too. 

Arrange posies of freshly-cut summer blooms into patterned jugs and old jam jars. Then, hang paper pom-pom flowers and honeycomb balls above to complete the laid-back yet very pretty look. This lovely set-up would look perfect alongside our cottage garden ideas.

5. Opt for pretty pastel shades

garden decor ideas: bunting and cushions in bright colors

Soft colors are a fabulous choice for summer garden decor ideas

(Image credit: Tim Young/Future)

Is any outdoor party complete without a string or two of bunting? The answer is 'probably not', at least if you're after a country-classic vibe.

This lilac, gingham style is totally adorable and makes a great decoration for a summer tea party. String along fences, between trees, or around your she shed – it's a simple and inexpensive way to make your plot feel extra special.

Sherbet lemon, soft coral and cool mint hues add to the pretty color scheme in the form of printed textiles, paper decorations, and a vintage-inspired lantern. Arrange them against backdrops of white to keep the look feeling modern and considered. 

Try bringing your favorite potted plants into the scene too, for a pleasing dash of fresh foliage and flowers.

6. Go for eco-friendly tableware

garden decor ideas: birthday party scene

(Image credit: Talking Tables)

Birthday parties often call for plenty of guests, and sometimes it's simply easier (and safer) to opt for disposable dinnerware. Fun prints will bring a sense of cheer and look great alongside vibrant flower posies and large serving bowls.

Opt for fully-recyclable, 100% plastic-free paper sets like the one above. It's much more environmentally-friendly than plastic alternatives, or having to simply throw it out with the general waste. This versatile design would work well for any birthday party – no matter how many years are being celebrated.

Looking for more outdoor dining ideas? Take a look at our suggestions.

7. Add stylish textiles and choose your glassware to match

garden decor ideas: patterned table runner and colorful glasses

Bring colorful table runners into your garden decor ideas, such as this Sorbet design by Walton & Co

(Image credit: Walton & Co)

Table runners can make a stylish statement when used as part of your garden decor ideas. Designs like this work both indoors and out, so add a homely, outdoor-living vibe for garden celebrations. We love the geometric pattern, which is block printed by hand onto study flat-weaved cotton.  

The tones of blush, terracotta, opal and ochre are mirrored by colored glassware and scatter cushions nearby, adding a sense of cohesion to the scene. Arranged around a low-lying table, the set-up feels relaxed – just make sure to provide a cozy outdoor rug or two to up the comfy factor further. 

It's the perfect setting for a celebratory picnic, right on your very own lawn. And, if you're loving the warm tones and summery vibe, you might like our ideas for Mediterranean gardens, too.

8. Elevate a bench with plenty of soft lights

garden decor ideas: bench with candles and festoon lights

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Good garden lighting ideas can totally transform the mood of a space – turning lacklustre places into warm and inviting zones. In this case, a simple wooden bench has been given a new lease of life with the help of plenty of LED candles. They're just as romantic and atmosphere-boosting as the real thing, but are risk-free and waterproof.

Strings of festoon lights above will add to the magical ambience. For a final flourish, try making a centerpiece of lush foliage and tie velvet ribbons in a sumptuous tone for each place setting. Both are easy and affordable ways to create a truly memorable scene.

9. Make the most of the vertical space 

garden decor ideas: dobbies table with hanging tealight lanterns

Hang pretty lanterns full of glowing tealights above your table as part of your garden decor ideas. This set-up is from Dobbies

(Image credit: Dobbies)

We've covered shade-creating canopies above your outdoor table, but how about this as a lovely solution for evening soirées?

We love the jumble of eye-catching lanterns in blue tones for this outdoor scene. Hung up in a line along a sturdy metal structure, they provide a subtle glow as well as a gorgeous focal point. Glazed ceramic vases adorn the table beneath adding to the sense of sophistication, whilst opting for foliage rather than flowers adds a pared-back element of cool.

Pair with sleek furniture made from pale wood with black finishes to finish the contemporary look, and don't forget a cozy fire pit nearby to keep the party going well into the night. These garden decor ideas aren't reserved for parties – they'll elevate your outdoor space all summer long.

10. Add plenty of color

garden decor ideas: pink party decorations

Pick bright and colorful garden decor ideas for a cheerful scene

(Image credit: Mark Scott/Future)

Every birthday bash has to have a few balloons! These party staples will never grow old and, for many, are a must-have for celebratory garden decor ideas.

Supersized versions in bold colors spread tons of cheer when clustered together on a garden gate, at the end of a bench, or from a tree. Marble-effect styles offer a stunning alternative to the classic block-color look. Whichever hues you go for, opt for biodegradable ones to be kinder to the environment. 

For a really summery theme, keep the vibrancy up with bright dinnerware, bunting, cushions, and flowers for your garden table ideas.

How do you make a garden look nice for a special occasion?

garden decor ideas: purple decorations on tray

Curate pretty vignettes as part of your garden decor ideas – this tray of patterned candles and a jug of campanula is a good example, created by nobunto

(Image credit: nobunto)

Hopefully by now you'll have a few new ideas up your sleeve for making your garden look nice for special occasions. From pretty dinnerware and patterned textiles to hanging ornaments – there's tons of easy ways to give your garden a boost. However, to add to the mix, we asked the experts at Lights4fun to share their top tips:

  1. 'When dressing your outdoor space for a special occasion, creating the perfect ‘wow factor’ is key,' says the Lights4fun team. 'Creating a showstopping display is simpler than you may think,' they add. So, consider how you can create a statement look that will really turn heads. This could be by opting for a chic color scheme, a specific theme, or simply by creating a gorgeous center point with flowers, over-sized lanterns, or statement lighting. Don't be afraid to go bold.
  2. 'If you’re planning a dinner party, make your outdoor dining setting the focal point of your garden,' says the Lights4fun team. This is where your guests will be spending the majority of the time, so you want to make sure it's at the epicentre of your garden decor ideas.
  3. 'A summer garland paired with LED candles makes for instant impact with very little effort,' says the Lights4fun experts. 'Run the garland along the length of the table and dot the candles in varying sizes amongst the foliage. For the perfect finishing touch, adorn the garland with micro lights for ultimate glow as dusk falls on your summer celebrations.'
  4. 'Solar stake lights are the perfect addition to flower beds and pathways,' suggests the Lights4fun team. 'There are many designs to choose from to perfectly suit your decorative style. Moroccan-inspired patterns are the perfect pairing for patios and decking or, for a whimsical style, dress flowerbeds with solar mushroom and flower stake lights.'

How can you decorate a garden for cheap?

garden decor ideas: boho-inspired scene with hanging lights and outdoor rug

This cozy set-up is from Lights4fun

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

If you're after garden decor ideas but want to avoid splashing the cash, then you'll be pleased to know that there's tons of affordable options available:

  1. Fairy lights are very inexpensive and you can get styles that are specifically made for outdoors. 'They can be wrapped around trees and shrubs, strung along fences or even used to create a magical canopy overhead,' says the team at Lights4fun. You can choose simple, timeless designs, or add a touch of charm by nestling unique designs amongst foliage – try flowers, bees or butterfly styles, they add.
  2. If you love to grow your own flowers, then be sure to show them off as part of your garden decor ideas. Wash out old jam jars to use as rustic vases, or upcycle tins with a lick of paint. Then, fill them with whatever's growing in your garden – cosmos, sweet peas, and other best cottage garden plants make beautiful choices.
  3. Paper decorations are surprisingly inexpensive but can look really stunning. These range from confetti, bunting and streamers to hanging ornaments. They tend to be recyclable, too.
  4. Everyday tealights are another affordable way to elevate an outdoor party scene. Pop inside lanterns, or in old jars, and dot around your table.
  5. Create chic table settings by tying ribbons to the backs of chairs, or around cutlery. Then, for a personal touch, add pretty name cards decorated however you like – glitter is always fun, whilst splashes of watercolor paint in complementary tones will offer an eclectic, artsy look.

Looking for more cheap garden ideas to transform your outdoor space? We have lots more tips in our feature.

Holly Crossley
Holly Crossley

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion. But, she loves all things digital too. She joined the team at Gardeningetc after working as a freelance content creator for a web agency, whilst studying for her M.Sc. in Marketing. Now she feels lucky enough to combine both digital and botanical worlds, every day!