Landscaping ideas: 19 ways to transform your outdoor space 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: The Silent Pool Gin Garden. Designed by: David Neale
(Image credit: RHS/Sarah Cuttle)

Good landscaping ideas are crucial for taking a garden from drab to fab. 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 a garden here. Think gorgeous walls for dividing zones, stretches of water for focal points, stepping stone pathways, floating benches, and more. You'll find that the best landscaping ideas not only improve the look 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.

1. Zone your plot with clean lines

landscaping ideas: modern garden

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 is full of stunning designs.

2. Transform an urban terrace

landscaping ideas: urban roof terrace

Garden designed 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 image 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? Head over to our garden privacy ideas for more inspiration.

3. Make a pond your focal point

landscaping ideas

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

(Image credit: Sarah Cuttle/RHS)

A pond is a garden landscaping feature 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 (head over to our guide on how to build a garden pond to 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.

4. Add detail to walkways

landscaping ideas: planted walkway

Garden designed by Bowles & Wyer

(Image credit: Paul Upward/Bowles & Wyer)

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

5. Create a garden 'room' with levels

landscaping ideas: steps

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 you 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.

6. Elevate the view

landscaping ideas: levels

Garden designed by 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 has tons of inspiration.

7. Go for wide pathways

landscaping ideas: pathway with lavender

Garden designed 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 A to B a delight, every time. 

It's 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. Head over to our garden path ideas for more suggestions.

8. Create modern backdrops for garden furniture

landscaping ideas: modern chairs on paving

Make a feature of your furniture

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny Photography/Future)

Have you recently treated yourself to some stylish garden furniture ideas? Then why not show them 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.

9. Add pattern underfoot

patterned floor tiles used on an outdoor patio

(Image credit: Walls and Floors)

Garden paving ideas don'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.

10. Incorporate raised decking

raised decked area with a garden sofa set

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 above the ground it doesn't fall under permitted development and you'll need to apply for planning permission.

11. Bring in curves

landscaping ideas: curved lawn

Garden designed 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 ideas 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.

12. Build in a bench

built-in bench used for modern garden planters holding cacti

Garden planters 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.

13. 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.

14. Make a statement with a pergola

Garden pergola with integrated awning

(Image credit: Harrod Horticultural)

Pay attention to the vertical space for your landscaping ideas. Our pergola ideas are 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 to your outdoor room.

15. Swap in modern fencing

slatted wooden garden fence

Fence panels 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? Head over to our garden fence ideas.

16. Lay artificial turf

Artificial lawn with seating area

(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.

17. 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.

18. Add in a water feature

Upright water feature in a modern garden

Cascading water feature from Lime Lace

(Image credit: Lime Lace)

You might not have the space to dig a pond, but water feature ideas 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.

19. 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 ideas

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?

low maintenance garden ideas: contemporary courtyard with garden room

Break up a patio with softer planting

(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future)

Starting from scratch with landscaping ideas can feel daunting, but there are a few simple steps to make the process more manageable. You'll have the plot of your dreams in no time.

Lowe's shares their suggestions:

  1. Start by drawing a basic plan of your plot. Be sure to include key points, such as any large trees that you plan on keeping.
  2. Note other key features of your space on your plan. For instance, think about which areas get the sun, whether there are any hills, or if some areas are more overlooked than others.
  3. Next, focus on your goals – how do you want to use your space? This is hugely important, to ensure your garden works for you. Perhaps you need a patio space for entertaining, a place solely for relaxation, or are wondering how to design a child friendly garden. Start with the larger ideas, such as a decking or pergola, then work down to the smaller details.
  4. When it comes to the materials and style, you can look to your home's exterior for design inspiration. This can help you achieve a more cohesive look.
  5. Think about boundaries and consider hedges or fences for privacy.
  6. Adding water and fountains can add to a tranquil atmosphere and is fabulous if you love our sensory garden ideas.
  7. Use landscape lighting to highlight your features and make the garden come to life at night.
  8. Do what makes you happy! After all, it's your garden, so tailor it to your own individual style and needs. Remember to factor in your budget, too, to make sure your plans are attainable. If you're calling in a professional, our advice on how much does landscaping cost will help you know what to expect.