10 brilliant garden design ideas for your dream outdoor space
We earn a commission for products purchased through certain links in this article.
Whether you need a more family-friendly garden or want to create different zones, there are plenty of garden design ideas to choose from. It is therefore important to weigh all your options when considering garden design ideas and what will work best for you.
“Garden zoning is becoming increasingly popular because it allows you to maximize the space available in your garden,” advises Leigh Barnes of Jackson Fencing. “It works by segmenting the area using screens, trellises or flower beds. This creates various zones such as a child-friendly zone, an entertainment zone for hosting guests and dining, and a private or cozy zone. It could work well as a peaceful WFH spot during the summer months.
Garden design ideas
Get inspired to transform your garden with these top ideas that will help you find the perfect garden layout for your space.
1. Build a hearth
Let the fun and games continue into the evening with a custom fire pit idea and seating area where you can warm up on chilly evenings. Build your own with bricks or choose a portable design that you can move around the garden.
Surround your fire pit with built-in seating and cover it with comfy throws and cushions to keep the family warm on those evenings when you can roast marshmallows over the open fire.
2. Create different zones
Consider different patio ideas for dividing a rectangular garden into zones. A patio near the house is ideal for eating and drinking, while planted borders around the edge help disguise fences.
When delineating your different zones, take the time to establish which areas are sunny and which are shaded in order to make the most of the space.
You can even create two separate patios. One that gets the sun in the morning and one that gets the last of the sun in the afternoon. This means you’ll always have a nice sunny spot to enjoy a cup of tea or a G&T!
3. Create a cozy yard
For small garden ideas, place a table in the middle surrounded by seating for a friendly cocooning space.
Disguise brickwork or fences with climbing plants such as clematis or climbing roses. These will add color, texture and fragrance to garden fence ideas in a small space.
4. Create winding paths
For long garden landscaping ideas, create winding paths leading to different focal points such as patios or garden deck ideas. The curve of the path softens the shape and draws your attention to different parts of the garden.
Experiment with planting along the path to break up large patches of grass. Then choose plants of different heights and colors for depth and visual interest.
Fragrant plants such as lavender work well because you can enjoy the fragrance that wafts through the air as you pass by.
5. Create a secret hideout
Turn a corner of your garden into a little nook, with built-in seating and a pergola above to add shade. This creates a quiet place to relax.
Camouflage the area with plantings, such as easy climbing plant ideas. Let them grow up and over the pergola for a homey feel. Tuck the seats behind borders full of lush plants to make the space seem tucked away. For neglected gardens, this is a great tip to add more privacy.
6. Design a multifunctional space
Plan a layout that uses each zone to meet all your garden needs. Built-in outdoor seating provides a friendly space to relax. Whereas a summer house gives you a quiet retreat to enjoy if the weather isn’t good.
Tall, structured planting softens harsh landscaping and adds texture and color to the scheme. Choose grasses and evergreens for easy maintenance.
7. Soften Hard Landscaping with Plants
Break down an outdoor space that is a large expanse of patio with small plant beds. Use circular beds, then create a winding walkway through the space.
Be sure to pick the sunniest spot for a seating area that you can enjoy for most of the day. Small trees such as acers are great for adding height and color to an outdoor yard space.
8. Install a custom bar area
Gardens are for socializing, so if you enjoy spending a lot of time entertaining friends and family, why not build your own bar or even an outdoor kitchen idea?
Make sure you can close the front in winter. This will keep the inside of the bar from getting covered in leaves and yard debris.
A bar area makes a great addition to a patio by your outdoor dining table and barbecue. This means you can keep food and drink close at hand.
9. Add a shady spot
Create a shaded dining area by building a pergola for a patio cover idea. It is important to have a shaded dining area in your garden, especially during the summer months. It always pays to have a cool place to relax.
Look for canvas sails as an alternative to a pergola. These can be used to cover the area if you want more shade or to protect you from light rain.
Pergolas also look great when festoon lighting is hung. It will create a relaxing atmosphere for an evening out.
10. Make it family friendly
Make a dedicated area of the garden just for the little ones to enjoy.
Incorporate a small sandbox and an earthen kitchen to keep them entertained. An outdoor chalkboard wall gives them space to get creative outdoors. When it comes to large gardens, a playhouse or climbing frame will provide them with hours of fun.
Place child-friendly areas near a patio or the house. This means you can keep an eye on them as they play.
How to get the most space in a small garden?
The first thing to consider is what the main use of the space will be. If it is to be multifunctional, choose garden furniture that can easily be folded up when not in use.
Bistro sets are ideal as they are compact and can easily be hung on a garden wall with hooks when not in use.
“When you have a small garden, you need to make sure you know exactly what you want to use your garden for, the same way you would design rooms in your home for specific uses,” says Jonny Brierley, CEO of Moda Furniture. “Storage and multifunctionality are the two key elements that any outdoor furniture for small gardens should have.”
A few potted plants dotted around will provide color if you don’t have space for a border, while a small shed or storage box will help keep the garden clutter-free by hiding tools, toys and garden chairs.
What garden design requires the least maintenance?
Breaking up a large expanse of grass with a patio or deck means spending less time mowing in the summer months.
A paved area is one of the least maintenance-intensive options, along with the use of artificial grass. “A lot of things can make a garden low-maintenance,” says Fiona Jenkins, gardening expert at MyJobQuote. “One of the best ways to do this is to create a patio garden. A patio requires very little maintenance compared to a lawn.
Fiona continues: “If you’re adamant that you want a lawn in your garden, artificial grass is the lowest maintenance option, and it doesn’t require mowing or watering. Decking is also another option for a low maintenance garden. Keep in mind that large stretches of either aren’t very durable. Certain grasses and plants are necessary to help pollinators thrive in the garden.