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Are you searching for new garden design ideas to transform your space? With warmer weather approaching, now's as good a time as any to get yours looking fabulous, ready for lots of use.
Using our gardens as an extension of our living spaces has become more important than ever. Whether it's a place to relax with family at the weekends; somewhere quiet and peaceful to escape the stresses of everyday life; a play zone for the kids; or an outdoor kitchen area; our gardens have to work hard to meet all of our needs. And of course, as well as being practical, they need to look beautiful too.
No matter how big or small your backyard is, with just a few simple touches you can create a tranquil oasis that you'll want to spend all your time in. We've rounded up our favorite garden design ideas to give you all the inspiration you need to turn your dream garden space into a reality. And, if you're after more advice for your next project, our guide on how to plan your garden design has lots more useful tips.
1. Surround a decked terrace with ornamental grasses
Decking ideas are a popular choice for all kinds of garden and it's easy to see why. They're smart, simple to maintain (our guide on how to clean decking has all the tips you need), and they provide a sturdy platform for all your outdoor furniture.
Timber decks also offer an organic texture and warming tone to a space, which can make a lovely contrast against urban surroundings. Just take a look at this show-stopping roof terrace for instance. The sleek wood extends to the raised planters, built-in bench, and even the fire pit for a harmonious vibe. Meanwhile, a screen of wispy ornamental grasses softens the look further, as well as boosting privacy levels.
2. Consider an awning for shelter
If you have a seating area that's next to your house, investing in patio cover ideas such as an awning or veranda will provide protection from both the rain and sun.
Choosing a clear material like glass or perspex for the roof means that light still gets through and you can enjoy views of the sky. If the structural beams are strong enough, you could even consider hanging a chair from one of them for the ultimate outdoor relaxation spot.
3. Go uber-modern with bold screens
If you're looking to zone up your space, block lacklustre views, or create a more private and sheltered nook, then a sturdy screen is definitely a good addition to your garden design ideas.
This Corten steel one is an absolute head-turner, providing the perfect backdrop for a sleek seating area. Against the pared-down surroundings, it's a bold and beautiful focal point and really completes the scene.
Of course, there are plenty of other options if you prefer something a little more understated. Our garden screening ideas gallery has plenty of inspiration.
4. Define zones with a pretty arbor
Another way to break up the 'rooms' of your garden design ideas is with an arbor. Framing a path or gate, they'll add extra definition to a space as well as visual interest up high.
This curved design is a lovely addition to a more traditional scene, and complements the open and airy trellised fence. It also provides a sturdy support for climbing plants – everything feels more enchanting with a rambling rose overhead.
You can also find garden arbor ideas that integrate with benches for a cozy seating spot – our gallery has lots of styles.
5. Lead the way with paved paths
Having paths that link different areas of your garden design ideas is not only visually appealing, it's also practical. Without a pathway you'll soon find that you tread an unsightly channel in your lawn.
We're a big fan of stepping stone ideas like these for a playful twist. Opt for salvaged paving slabs as a cheap option and smarten them up with one of the best pressure washers before laying, to make them look brand new.
6. Soften brick features with plenty of plants
Red clay bricks are a classic choice for garden wall ideas and work wonderfully in more traditional plots. But, when adorned with plenty of clambering flowers and foliage, they offer a whimsical charm reminiscent of bygone eras.
For an enchanting scene, train sweetly-scented honeysuckle or colorful clematis over your walls using trellis ideas for gardens. Then, add an ornate garden mirror or two, or even a hanging basket or stone ornament up high. Take a cue from the scene above and continue the theme by opting for tons of cottage-garden style plants around the plot, balanced with neatly-clipped miniature hedges for a sense of structure.
We also love how the split-level design of this plot forms a useful bench – perfect when entertaining guests.
7. Create a holiday vibe with a pool and bar
If you want to bring a sense of luxury to your garden design ideas, then you can't go far wrong with a pool. Add in a sleek bar and you're all set for a chic summer of relaxation.
Keep the range of materials and color palette pared-down for a serene and sophisticated vibe. Here, pale decking makes a gorgeous complement to monochrome furniture, and we're a big fan of those sculptural end tables, too.
Naturally, a view like this will take any garden design ideas up a notch, but if yours isn't quite the same, then a few sleek raised beds filled with leafy foliage or a potted olive tree wouldn't go amiss.
Our backyard pool ideas feature has tons more looks.
8. Build seating into your walls
Want to maximize space in your garden? Having outdoor seating ideas up against a wall gives a seamless look, especially when combined with raised beds. The wall behind the bench seating also offers added protection from the wind or sun. Simply add some colorful bench or scatter cushions to ramp up the comfort factor.
All those cushions will need storing away when it's raining and during the winter months, however, so if you don't have a shed or garden storage it's a good idea to incorporate storage underneath your bench seating instead. Opt for a design where the top of the bench seat can be lifted up to reveal a large storage compartment, perfect for keeping all your cushions and throws in.
9. Curate a cozy outdoor living room
We all know that garden's aren't just for growing. They're a place to relax and entertain loved ones – just like you would in your living room but out in the fresh air.
Comfy seating, coffee tables, cushions, and a considered color palette are all must-have additions for cozy garden design ideas. But, don't be afraid to get a little creative – here, patterned paving is a fantastic way to add personality to the space, as is the verdant border of sedum and other succulents which surrounds it.
Sleek raised beds around the edge of a plot are a great option for modern garden ideas, especially if they double up as seating as mentioned above. And don't forget a stylish fence too, to keep nosy neighbors out. This horizontally-slatted design adds bags of style in its soft grey hue.
10. Cocoon a space in climbing foliage
If you've got a pergola over your patio, then covering it in some of the best climbing plants is a reliable way to elevate it further. Sipping a glass of vino under a canopy of leaves or fragranced flowers certainly sounds like our idea of bliss!
Of course there are plenty of climbing roses to choose from, but wisteria is also a lovely choice for its striking purple blooms. Even when it's not in flower, the foliage will bring a refreshing boost of green to a space throughout summer. Just add some timeless rattan furniture and you've got the perfect relaxing retreat to shelter from the sun.
11. Add a sleek path with decking
Chic decking doesn't have to be reserved for outdoor living spaces; it also makes fabulous pathways. This narrow stretch above follows the exterior of the house, and is lined with vivid-green euphorbia and spiky grasses for a structural vibe.
White planters continue the theme of clean, sleek lines and help to divide the zone from the next part of the garden. It's a fresh and modern look that we simply adore. You could even add recessed lighting to illuminate the way after dark.
12. Go for gravelled garden design ideas
If you've seen our garden gravel ideas, then you'll know what a versatile, budget-friendly, and brilliant material this stony ground-cover can be.
It's great for a more informal look, and can be planted up with lots of different alpines, succulents and other drought-resistant varieties for a naturalistic style. It's an ideal base for a tucked-away seating spot; just add large ornamental grasses for extra shelter and privacy.
13. Create an indoor-outdoor flow
A stunning outdoor space can easily become an extension of your home. Select materials that match – or at least complement – your indoor flooring to create a seamless flow.
Floor-to-ceiling doors that open fully really create a feeling of endless space. This is an ideal scenario for garden design ideas where space is at a premium, to stop things from feeling cramped.
14. Go for moody tones for your garden structures
If your garden lacks shelter, then adding a structure like a pergola could be a good option for creating a cozy and welcoming seating area. Painting it a dark color can help it to tie in with your furniture and creates a more fresh and contemporary feel.
String festoon lights up for when the sun goes down and frame the area with an outdoor rug and matching cushions to add to the homely style.
15. Embrace cottage-style planting for your garden design ideas
If you're a fan of our cottage garden ideas, then a design like this might be just the ticket. Sure, it's a little wild but the mounds of foliage, billowing florals, and spectrum of soft pastel colors are sure to bring joy to anyone.
What's more, garden design ideas like these are a haven for butterflies and bees, which will bring even more color and life into your garden. Weave reclaimed brick pathways around the generous beds so you can admire the scene from all angles, and try adding a touch of topiary for a more refined touch.
16. Use raised beds to line a small space
Here, raised garden bed ideas define the seating area in this modestly spaced garden. Though they narrow the zone, it actually lengthens the look of the space and it's still the perfect fit for an outdoor dining table.
These raised beds are also painted white, which reflects sunlight and offers a bright and airy feel to what could otherwise be a small and perhaps oppressive garden.
17. Pick chic materials for your garden ideas
Patterned floor tiles are a growing trend for paving ideas, and there's plenty of choice available. From cool graphics to ornate Mediterranean designs, they certainly pack a punch.
If you aren't all that green-fingered then their patterns can make up for a lack of interest elsewhere and give a much-needed boost to more simplistic planting schemes.
It's important to make sure your choice of paving is suitable for outdoor use to prevent it cracking due to frost, or becoming too slippery when wet. Man-made materials such as porcelain or concrete are hard-wearing choices, or opt for natural stones like sandstone, granite, limestone or slate for your garden design ideas.
18. Design an area for cooking as part of your garden design ideas
Let's face it, one of the best things about having a garden is being able to fire up one of the best BBQs. If this is the case for you, then putting in a designated area for cooking as part of your garden ideas makes good practical sense.
It can be as simple as installing some storage to keep everything in one accessible place, from charcoal to condiments. Extra surface space is also handy for outdoor cooking and will save you walking back and forth to the kitchen to fetch what you need. Our outdoor kitchen ideas feature is full of inspiring styles.
19. Use the vertical space to create boundaries
This sturdy overhead structure provides a subtle divide between the seating space and lawn, whilst allowing views to be enjoyed uninterrupted. What's more, the pared-back design is perfect for hanging a hammock and festoon lights to up the cozy factor.
A climbing plant can be seen making its way up one of the columns, too – adding an extra dose of greenery. And if you opt for fragranced kinds such as honeysuckle or roses, then you can enjoy gorgeous clouds of scent in summer.
A neutral palette keeps the structure cohesive with the rustic decking. And, we love the bordering paving detailed with stones, which seamlessly flows into a nearby path.
20. Make your garden design ideas family-friendly
Good garden design ideas need to factor in all the family, to be a space that can be enjoyed by everyone. But, making a space fun for kids as well as grown-ups needn't mean you have to sacrifice on style.
This pretty playhouse fits in with the scheme beautifully, and is tucked away in a corner full of greenery – adding to the sense of magic for little ones (and the sense of peace for adults!).
In terms of harder landscaping, notice how the nearby, mid-height wall doubles up as a casual bench, as well as bringing a sense of structure to the space. Meanwhile, steps lead down from the verdant lawn to a more formal seating spot for alfresco lunches. By lining them with soft geraniums and architectural agapanthus and astrantias, a gentle woodland feel is evoked and a soft divide is created between zones.
It's a relatively simple design, but it works perfectly for all involved. Our family garden ideas feature has lots more tips.
21. Zone up a tropical plot
When considering small garden ideas, you might think that breaking up a plot into separate areas would make it look even smaller. But, zoning garden design ideas like this can actually increase the feeling of space.
This small garden has been divided into sections that are separated by low maintenance tropical-style planting. The decked dining area is positioned nearest the house, which can be practical for easy access to the kitchen. The snug seating area at the bottom of the garden feels cozy and secluded and is perfect for relaxing.
Adding a fire pit means it can be enjoyed later in the year too, when the evenings are cooler.
22. Elevate your seating space
If the bottom area of your garden is the place that gets the most sun, it's the ideal spot for outdoor living space ideas. As it's further away from the house, it also gives a feeling of seclusion and privacy.
The decking gives the space a more permanent feel, as though it's an extension of the home, which is enhanced by the shelves on the rear wall. Add some bright bunting and color pop cushions for some fun and flair.
23. Turn heads with trees
Looking to add something a little different to your garden? A display like this is bound to turn heads.
The 'Nana' variety of Indian bean trees (Catalpa bignonioides nana) is a more compact version than its larger counterparts, and looks stunning arranged in a paved space. Surrounded by neatly-clipped evergreens, the scene has a sculptural vibe – a great way to liven up a quiet corner.
You could swap out the trees depending on your style – how about some blossoming fruit trees, or vibrant acers? Our best trees for small gardens guide has plenty more options you could try.
24. Bring in some foliage
Foliage-covered fences and walls can act as a handy barrier to exterior noise, which is particularly useful in city gardens. Plant climbers such as fragrant jasmine in raised beds next to your fence and encourage them to spread out, creating a living wall effect.
Enhance your secluded oasis with foliage and a large parasol for shade and lose yourself in the greenery. Our guide has plenty of tips on how to create a similar living wall look in your space.
25. Mix hard materials with soft planting
If you're looking to strike that perfect balance between natural yet modern for your garden design ideas, then give this a try. By breaking up your paving with areas of soft planting, the look will feel unexpected, fresh, and organic.
Weave in wilder flowers such as field buttercups, or try ornamental grasses for their soothing textural appeal. And why not integrate water in this way too?
Then, add a few statement pieces of garden furniture, so you can relax and take in the view. The space will be adored by you – and visiting pollinators – in no time.
26. Add intrigue with traditional gates
If you're a fan of traditional styles, then rustic and wooden garden gate ideas can be a stunning solution to divide different 'rooms' of your plot.
This pretty design is nestled into an evergreen hedge, and helps to frame the open lawn in front. As the experts at Bowles & Wyer (opens in new tab) say, it's good to design a space with a vista in mind.
27. Take in the view from a chill-out spot
'It's always important to plan the perfect spot to enjoy a view or a G&T,' says the team at Bowles & Wyer. And we think this would do the job just fine.
So, if you're lucky enough to be surrounded by vistas that inspire, then make the most of them. These sun loungers looking out onto a wild meadow will offer instant feelings of zen. If your surroundings are more on the urban side, then you can still create gorgeous views, even if it's just with a few of our garden planter ideas.
Curved features add to the flow of a plot, so are a great choice if you're opting for a blissed-out vibe. This wall is a feature in itself due to its luxurious width, and with the help of a few outdoor cushions, could also be used as a serene spot for lounging.
28. Create a tranquil water feature
Water features, ponds, and fountains will instantly add a tranquil feel to garden design ideas due to their beautiful appearance and calming sounds.
If you've got the space, then recreating a waterfall display such as this is a breathtaking way to elevate a garden. Designed by award-winning expert Kazuyuki Ishihara (opens in new tab), it uses plenty of moss and irises for an organic effect with a nod towards Japanese-style gardens.
Of course, such a feature isn't achievable for smaller spaces, but even a simple water bowl can add a dose of serenity. Head over to our water feature ideas for inspiration, or if you love the Japanese look, our small Japanese garden ideas has got you covered.
29. Add plants to your paving
When we think of garden design ideas we often concentrate on the larger, more structural stuff. But it's important to factor in the smaller details too, as they can make all the difference to the look of a space.
As Alexa Ryan-Mills of Alexa Ryan-Mills Garden Design (opens in new tab) says, one way to do so is to 'experiment with greening up paths with a mix of drought-tolerant sedums, thyme and other low-growing plants between pavers.' This adds tons of visual interest and, if you're using thyme, will offer a pleasant scent too.
Get creative with it – you could try growing them around each slab, or add a simple strip across your patio ideas for a more contemporary look.
30. Sink your seating space
'If being exposed to wind or neighboring windows, why not dig down and make a sunken area?' says garden designer Barry Chambers of Garden Design Guru (opens in new tab).
This welcoming spot blends a rustic, wooden corner bench with sandy-toned paving, whilst ornamental grasses help to screen the view of the house. It's a fabulous way to make an area feel more exclusive and sheltered from the elements – just add one of the best garden parasols for the perfect finishing touch.
31. Introduce a stylish pergola
Modern pergola ideas are a fantastic option for any sized garden. Pre-sized panels can be fitted together in different layouts so you can customize your design. Alternatively, off-the-shelf modular products can quickly transform a space and help create a unified look for boundaries.
The strong lines of a contemporary slatted design provide a stylish backdrop for plants, creating an extra planting opportunity and adding an architectural element that looks good all year round. Another plus is that if your garden is overlooked, a small pergola can be incorporated into your plans to add a feeling of privacy.
32. Choose exotics for small spaces
Densely-planted lush exotics create an exuberant planting style that detracts from small dimensions. Plants chosen for their interesting leaves dominate and add a gorgeously textured look, making them perfect for tropical garden ideas.
Fill in borders with lustrous banana palms, spiky phormium and low-growing hardy ferns. A supersized tree fern always catches the eye.
Add drama with a touch of bold color too. With their vibrant hot red or orange blooms and luxe foliage, cannas make a stunning centerpiece for a border.
33. Plan your planting for your garden ideas
If you're struggling with ideas on how to fit your planting around your seating space, try sketching out some designs first. Mark out your area and see where you could place your foliage.
This seating spot has beds that have been pre-planned and built-in when the bricked patio was being laid. Large statement pots with colorful planting, such as these hydrangeas, are an easy way to change up the look and feel of the space from one year to the next.
Want to build your own paved zone? Our step-by-step guide on how to lay a patio has all the expert tips you'll need.
34. Choose statement furniture
Sometimes one standalone piece of furniture is all that's needed to give an instant lift to garden design ideas. Next to a group of container plants at varying heights this tranquil and stylish spot is perfect for whiling away the hours with a good book.
You can find your perfect outdoor seating in our guide to the best garden furniture.
35. Go for laid-back entertaining
Love using your garden as a space for entertaining friends and family? Try incorporating one of our favorite outdoor bar ideas to give your garden a focal point for parties.
A garden bar will also encourage people to spread out from the seating area, ensuring your garden gatherings have a more open and friendly vibe. If you're good at DIY, creating a simple outdoor bar structure is an inexpensive way to recreate this look. Or, take a look at ready-made designs for your garden ideas.
36. Plant grasses for a textural look
Choosing one variety of plant and grouping them en masse gives an effortlessly stylish look. Remember that less is often more.
Here, uniform planting of airy grasses adds a cool style to a garden that's right on trend. They add drama and understated elegance with their sculptural shapes in stunning shades of burnt gold, luminous silver and vibrant stripes.
The trick to add wow-factor is planting different types of grass as the stars of the show rather than mixing them in with other plants as a filler. Plant them in pots that you can move around to suit the mood. Our guide on how to grow ornamental grasses has all you need to get started.
37. Set the right tone for your garden design ideas
Deciding on a color scheme that ties in your plants and your furniture can be tricky. But, opting for a monochrome palette for your garden design ideas means that you needn't worry about things matching.
This all-white scheme is fresh and modern, and really soaks up the sunlight. Picking plants becomes easier too as there are plenty of white blooms available to choose from. What's more, a monochromatic look is totally on-trend this year, as featured in our garden trends guide.
38. Add interest at eye level
Having multiple levels for garden design ideas can add variety to the space. For instance, a raised patio dining area can also give you a better view of the rest of the garden.
Raised beds are also a great way of bringing plants up from ground level – having them at eye height in a seating area means you feel more of a connection to the planting. Taller plants like alliums offer another extra level, too.
39. Keep it low-maintenance
You may not have the resources at the moment to spend time and money on landscaping ideas, but that doesn't mean you can't still have a beautiful garden.
On fair-weather days you can bring indoor furniture outside and appreciate the existing charms of your plot. Just remember to bring things inside overnight because it's not worth the risk of furniture getting soaked in an unexpected downpour.
40. Reinvent a classic
Hard landscaping should last for years, so it makes sense to go with a timeless look as part of your garden design ideas. With so much choice available when it comes to materials, this is where things can get expensive. It's important to bear in mind your budget so things don't ravel out of control.
Textured limestone pavers add the luxe look to your garden design but are one of the more pricey options. Nowadays, however, you can get the look at a fraction of the cost and without the hassle of maintaining the real thing. Limestone-effect tiles give the same wow-factor and slot seamlessly into a cool and contemporary look.
Our modern paving ideas feature has lots more inspiration.
41. Include tropical planting
Design a jungle-style canopy by layering trees and taller plants such as ferns, with smaller-sized plants underneath to get that lush, overgrown vibe. Tree ferns are slow-growing and hardy, so are perfect for bringing an exotic feel to a tropical garden.
Include some structural elements made from materials that feel as if they’ve always been there – large rocks, distressed woods, old brickwork, bamboo poles and brushwood screening all work well. And why not add to the look with a printed parasol? We love the fringing detail on this one above.
42. Style up your space with modular furniture
The modular furniture in this lounge style set-up is accessorized with small tables, cushions and vases to create a cohesive look that's coordinated right through to the stylish planter.
Choose all-weather, powder-coated aluminium, and synthetic rattan in a cool stone-grey weave. Then, add colorful cushions and bold planting to your garden ideas to switch up the look. And, to keep it in tip-top condition, our guide on how to clean garden furniture has lots of advice.