Landscaping ideas: 35 ways to transform your plot with levels, walls, floors, and more

Planning a garden update? Our favorite landscaping ideas are just what you need to give your outdoor space 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. Perhaps you're working with a blank canvas or just want to make a few tweaks to your existing design. Either way, there are all kinds of things you can do to transform your space into the yard of your dreams. 

And we're not just talking about how it looks, although that, of course, is important. As with all good garden design ideas, the best landscaping solutions are practical, too, enabling you to use your space exactly how you wish. Think statement walls and screens for dividing zones, stretches of water as soothing focal points, stepping stone pathways, floating benches, and other stunning features. In fact, there are so many options it can be tricky to know where to begin.

We're here to help with your makeover plan by bringing together plenty of looks for you to get inspired by.

35 stylish landscaping ideas for your outdoor space

From quick additions and DIY jobs to bigger, call-in-a-builder projects, we've got ideas for all styles and budgets below. We're sure you'll find something you love in this selection.

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)

Garden 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 effect different types of paths will have on the way you move across your plot. A meandering, stepping stone pathway around flower beds feels relaxed and will encourage a sense of play, for instance. Meanwhile, a sleek, paved walkway with recessed lights is a practical solution for areas of heavy traffic – perfect as a front yard landscaping idea.

This example provides easy access to the raised beds and decked zone, without the need to walk on the lawn (handy 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.

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 pool ideas into 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. Add some loungers to the side and it'll be your new favorite place to relax, guaranteed.

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 the surrounding pool landscaping ideas, and ties in neatly with the lawn, clipped hedges, and sleek exterior of the home.

3. Add a lush lawn and line with flowers and trees

lawn with flowerbeds and trees

Add a gorgeous stretch of green to your outdoor space

(Image credit: Services, Inc. Linville, N)

A stretch of verdant lawn can be a lovely addition to a landscape design, and is perfect for summer picnics or for the kids to have a run-around. 

Line it with colorful borders bursting with blooms for a beautiful display: there are lots of options when it comes to landscaping with flowers for prettifying a plot. Garden edging in between will keep things looking neat.

4. Incorporate raised decking for an outdoor living space

tropical style garden with decking and grill

Create a smart outdoor kitchen space with decking

(Image credit: Paul Whicheloe/Future)

A deck is a reliable way to create an outdoor extension of your living space, and can look stunning too.

Decks are perfect for grills, dining tables, potted plants (including herbs and veggies), and even hot tubs. While they're traditionally made of wood, composite decks made of new synthetic materials are gaining popularity. It's understandable – they're much lower maintenance and they don't splinter.

You can even utilize different levels in your decking – for a sunken seating space, for instance. But a deck doesn't have to be multi-tiered if you don't have space, of course. Single-tiered raised decking can create a flat and level dining area immediately outside the house or at the end of the garden, for instance.

5. Keep it contemporary with a wraparound patio

modern exterior with wraparound patio

This scheme complements the exterior of the home perfectly

(Image credit: Matthew Williams/Future)

Bringing patio ideas into your landscaping scheme is a super practical choice, providing a stable base for all your outdoor living needs. And, the paving you pick can be a leading factor in your backyard design.

Choose a style that complements the exterior of your home for a harmonious look. Take this setup, for instance. It oozes a sense of industrial cool with its pared-down, concrete pavers, that wrap around the edge of the house leading to a small pool area. Sleek porcelain is another chic (and durable) paving idea for a modern result.

If you prefer a softer finish, natural stone in warm tones may be the way forward.

6. 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, landscaping with gravel is a fantastic approach. It's simple to install and there's none of the fuss of mowing that you'd get with a lawn. Plus, it's good for garden drainage.

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 plants that will be right at home in their stony surroundings.

We like how this graveled 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.

7. Create a hub for entertaining

paving with patio and pool and outdoor kitchen area

This outdoor living space has everything needed for entertaining in style

(Image credit: by Sundown, Englewood, CO)

If you love having guests over, it's a good idea to add an outdoor entertaining space to your backyard landscaping ideas.

You can keep things as simple or as elaborate as you like. Perhaps a quiet patio with a dining table is all you need, or maybe an outdoor kitchen complete with plumbing and electricity, plus a lounge area with a fire pit, is more fitting.

For something along the lines of the latter option, take a look at this gorgeous patio which features a cozy fireplace and sleek outdoor bar. It's the perfect setting for throwing an alfresco get-together with family and friends.

8. Add terraces to sloping plots

tiered patio with seating

This setup by DMAR Interiors is contemporary and chic

(Image credit: Molly Rose/DMARInteriors)

Hilly yards can be a little trickier to landscape than flat ones, but with some good sloping garden ideas, you can still create your own personal oasis. 

One of the best approaches is to bring in terraces, by leveling out different areas of your backyard and then connecting them with gently curving paths or smart steps. In this stunning plot, for example, a terrace with loungers sits downhill from the house.

Once you've added your levels, the options are almost endless: you can install everything from small pools to dining areas to fire pits, creating different 'rooms' as you go.

9. Build an easy-care dry garden

low maintenance gravel garden

Plenty of grasses and a meandering stream give this garden a naturalistic vibe

(Image credit: Lawns, Inc. Boise, ID)

If you're short on time, or live somewhere that's consistently hot and dry, then consider using landscaping ideas to create a stylish dry garden.

Drought-tolerant plants are perfect for this sort of style and there are so many colors and textures to choose from. Landscaping with grasses is also a good approach to add airy height and form.

You might consider dotting larger stones or boulders about the scene, too – we've got lots of landscaping ideas with rocks in our guide.

10. Shelter a seating spot with screens

blue screen wall with dining setup 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.

11. Or, add privacy with planting

espalier trees in garden by Consilium Hortus

A row of espalier trees in a garden designed by Consilium Hortus

(Image credit: Consilium Hortus/Photography: Michelle Foulser)

Urban gardens tend to be a little overlooked, which is why good garden privacy ideas are a must-have for a more exclusive feel. But, if your plot is on the smaller side, a tall wall or fence on all four sides may make your outdoor space feel ‘boxed-in’ and claustrophobic. Opting for a leafy screen instead is a softer approach.

You can choose from a variety of plants, from dense evergreen arborvitae trees to quick-growing bamboo (there are lots of ideas in our best screening plants guide). Alternatively, pick hedging plants for a dense green screen, or, for an attractive option that takes up less floor space, plant a row of espaliered trees. White-barked varieties look particularly elegant – as demonstrated here – or opt for fruit trees to enjoy spring blossom and an autumn harvest.

Just make sure whatever you plant will thrive in your specific climate, and definitely take seasonality into consideration – if your trees drop their leaves in the fall, they might not do such a great job maintaining your privacy in the winter.

12. Combine decking with a matching fence for a seamless and chic look

wooden decking with modern chair and tree

A modern decked scene spotted at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021

(Image credit: Jacky Hobbs)

If you're contemplating decking ideas for your garden, you could consider going one step further and extending it to a surrounding fence, just like in this scene.

The result is a very modern 'garden room' that will feel sheltered and private – the perfect base for some statement outdoor furniture. 

Add splashes of color with a selection of planters, or even an integrated tree for something a little more unusual. We love the sculptural shape of this acer and how it offers contrasting texture and vibrancy to its surroundings: a great example of landscaping with trees.

13. Extend your living space with a covered patio

raised patio under veranda with hanging chair

With a setup 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, awning, 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 utilize overhead beams when it comes to your furniture – a hanging chair is one of this year's must-haves.

14. Keep your landscaping 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 landscaping with boulders, wilder pockets of planting, meandering pathways, and perhaps a waterfall.

15. Opt for sculptural structures overhead

timber overhead patio cover at Chelsea Flower Show 2021

'Finding Our Way: An NHS Tribute Garden' designed by Naomi Ferrett-Cohen at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021

(Image credit: Jacky Hobbs)

There are tons of patio cover ideas to choose from for an outdoor space. But, with a little imagination and creativity (and, admittedly, a bit of a budget) they can become a permanent fixture in your garden that will elevate not only the overall look but also extend the time you spend outdoors, all year round.

This spectacular design was spotted at a Chelsea show garden. We love how the sleek hardwood canopy frames the view of the flower-filled space beyond, with the timber pleasingly contrasting against the paving and stone.

Benches offer ample space to sit, while integrated lights will illuminate the zone come nightfall. It's a wonderful twist on a classic pergola.

16. 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)

When planning a backyard makeover, take time to sit down and make a proper plan. And once you know the things you need to prioritize, you can begin organizing them into zones: a smart approach for larger yards.

We're loving how this clever mid-height planter serves a multitude of purposes. Sure, its crisp white edges look great, adding to the plot's modern look and complementing the architectural alliums. But it also helps to divide the space, separating the seating area from a lawn and garden building beyond. 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, while drawing the eye down to the sleek deck. Don't miss the paneled fence too, where more clean lines help to elongate the space.

17. Cool off with an outdoor shower space

outdoor shower

The 'Hot Tin Roof' garden by Ellie Edkins at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021

(Image credit: Jacky Hobbs)

Outdoor shower ideas are growing in popularity – particularly in warmer regions. What could be better on a hot day than a cool rinse-off outdoors? And, of course, they're handy for washing muddy boots or pets, too.

You don't need acres of space to add one, as this setup shows. We're loving the patterned tiles which add a fun flair, while plenty of surrounding foliage gives a spa-like vibe to the scene. 

Got more space? Outdoor bathtub ideas are another, or additional, option for turning your plot into a serene sanctuary.

18. Cook alfresco with a gorgeous grill station

outdoor kitchen by Grillo

A smart setup from Grillo

(Image credit: Grillo)

Building outdoor kitchen ideas into your landscaping plan is a brilliant approach for those who love to entertain. And nowadays, there are tons of styles to choose from, from sleek worktops to rustic pizza ovens that will instantly transport your patio to the Med.

Whatever type of setup you go for, the space will become the social hub of your home all throughout the summer months. And, you can enjoy cooking up all your favorite feasts in the fresh air – bliss.

19. Make your garden walls a feature

large containers at Chelsea Flower Show 2021

'The Stolen Soul Garden' by Anna Dabrowska at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021

(Image credit: Jacky Hobbs)

Garden walls are a staple feature in landscaping ideas, dividing one zone to the next, screening off less-than-sightly views, and providing shelter for seating spaces or more tender plants. But, practical as they may be, walls can also be a stylish statement for your plot and help pull together a theme.

Take this design for instance, which brings a striking, contemporary backdrop to oversized containers brimming with plants. Living walls are another option – and are perfect for getting more greenery into a smaller space. 

Or, how about a wall water feature? They are having a real moment right now in garden design and it's easy to see why.

20. Use landscaping to transform an urban terrace

urban roof terrace designed by Bowles & Wyer

This cool city garden was created by Bowles & Wyer

(Image credit: Bowles & Wyer/Photography: Paul Upward)

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

Chic gray paving makes a striking contrast against softer strips of planting, which add an extra dose of visual interest. Meanwhile, the outdoor 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.

21. 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 flower beds can still be accessed for maintenance.

22. Add detail to walkways

planted walkway in garden by Bowles & Wyer

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

(Image credit: Bowles & Wyer/Photography: Paul Upward)

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 paneled wood flooring is horizontally aligned to make the space feel wider, while 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 and is a great way to add interest.

23. Elevate the view

lighting across garden levels in plot by Bowles & Wyer

Another striking design from Bowles & Wyer

(Image credit: Bowles & Wyer)

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 landscaping with lights when planning a new look for after-dark drama.

24. 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. 

Landscaping with lavender always has lovely results. Here, the path is lined with the robust and fragrant plants and we think it looks spectacular.

25. 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? Creating a distinct backdrop behind your seating spot is a great way to show it off.

This cool gray color adds an urban edge whilst allowing the chairs to take center stage with their intricate woven design. 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 gray, then you could pick something bold instead – try ochre yellow, raspberry pink, or cobalt blue, for example.

26. Add pattern underfoot

patterned floor tiles used on an outdoor patio

(Image credit: Walls and Floors)

Patio flooring 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 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.

27. Bring curves into your landscaping

curved lawn in garden by bowles & wyer

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

(Image credit: Bowles & Wyer/Photography: Paul Upward)

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.

28. 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 garden planters' proportions to fit the space – too many small pots could look chaotic. A hit of color will make them more of a feature, too, as will choosing strong shapes.

29. Create a kids' corner

kids garden area with sandpit and chalkboard

This setup will keep kids busy for hours

(Image credit: Future)

Good backyard landscaping ideas take everyone's needs into account. So, if you've got children or grandchildren, consider making a special kids-only zone to keep them happily entertained as part of your family garden ideas.

This stunning setup, complete with a sandpit and chalkboard, demonstrates how it doesn't have to be an eyesore. The trick is to stick to materials that blend into the surroundings, such as the natural timber seen here.

If you've got the space, you may want to bring in some larger play equipment – slides and swings will always tempt kids outside and away from their screens. Just don't forget to include an area for grown-ups, too.

30. Opt for a high-tech pergola

pergola over a backyard seating area

This impressive pergola is by StruXure

(Image credit: StruXure)

Whether you need some shade on your deck, your patio, or a grassy lounge area on your lawn, a pergola is a stylish way to block out some of the sun's intensity and frame the zone.

There are plenty of prefab pergolas that you can buy online for relatively reasonable prices. Alternatively, you could splurge on a custom high-tech variant, like this example, in which the slats are mechanized and can be adjusted to control the amount of light let through. These days, you can often add lights and heating too.

31. Swap in modern fencing

slatted wooden garden fence

These fence panels are from Homebase

(Image credit: Homebase)

Horizontal slatted garden 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 block 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.

32. Lay artificial turf

Artificial lawn with seating area

Artificial grass from Carpetright works well in this modern plot

(Image credit: Carpetright)

Yards can be a lot of work, so if you're looking for low-maintenance garden ideas, opt for artificial turf instead of planting grass. There's no need to water or mow, making it the perfect option for someone who loves the look of grass but doesn't have the time to take care of it. 

Artificial turf is also an excellent option for those who have small yards in a more urban environment – it can be installed atop concrete or asphalt, though you should work with a professional installer to work through potential issues with drainage.

33. 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.

34. Add a water feature to your landscaping

david harber chalice water feature at chelsea 2021

This striking design from David Harber looks beautiful surrounded by sunflowers, dahlias, and ferns

(Image credit: David Harber)

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 plots. They'll provide a lovely focal point and a soothing sound, boosting the sensory qualities of your backyard.

This mirrored design works well in a contemporary garden, reflecting the vibrant planting to create a mesmerizing effect.

35. Get creative with the smaller details

metal chain edging

This border adds tons of character

(Image credit: Jacky Hobbs)

Patios, decks, pools, walls – there are plenty of big features to decide on when it comes to backyard landscaping ideas. But don't overlook the smaller things too, which can really make a difference to the overall vibe of a space.

One good example is edging your flower beds or lawns with a statement border. Stone or metal edging is durable and stylish, while red brick can offer a rustic touch that's perfect for cottage gardens. 

For something a little different, we love the chain detail that borders this bed and pathway – perfect for a finishing touch of nautical charm.

How do you design your garden's landscape?

Starting from scratch with backyard landscaping ideas can feel daunting. But, there are a few simple steps to make the process more manageable.

These suggestions from Lowe's are sure to come in handy:

  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 deck 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 landscaping costs will help you know what to expect.

contemporary courtyard with garden room

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

(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future)
Sarah Warwick
Freelance writer

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 and loves investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper.