Garden design doesn’t have to involve hard landscaping. If you’re short of time (or indeed expertise), a simple spruce-up is often all that is needed to give your garden a fresh new look. The design incorporates plants, textures, colour schemes and decorations, as well as paving, decking and raised beds, so let your imagination run wild and use your existing garden landscaping as a template to create a stunning space you want to spend time in. You can find more inspiration at Gardeners Dream.

Consider How You Use the Garden

Even the most striking garden design ideas can be wrong if they don’t complement the garden’s purpose. For example, if children and pets use your garden for playing, it’s probably not sensible to fill borders with roses and other plants with thorns or spikes. Equally, if you enjoy eating and drinking al fresco, you’ll need to incorporate some garden furniture, such as a dining table, to ensure maximum comfort.

Taking how you use your garden into account is a great place to start. Doing so means you can tailor your outdoor space to suit your and you’re family’s lifestyles.

Spruce Things Up

Decide what elements of your existing garden design you want to keep and get them looking their best. Power wash decking or paved areas, clean the garden shed, paint the fence, and carry out any repairs that need to be done.

Next, tidy up the plants. Prune back overgrown shrubs, mow the lawn, pull weeds, and generally neaten things up.

Once you’ve done all this, you’ll have the perfect base for adding design elements to make your outside space stand out.

Get Planting

Of course, the obvious way to jazz up the garden and create plenty of visual interest is to add plants. If you haven’t quite mastered keeping plants alive and your green thumb is still a pale shade of yellow, don’t worry! Gardening is often a case of trial and error. However, if you do your research and choose low-maintenance plants, there’s no reason you can’t create an outdoor space full of greenery. There are plenty of gardening books on the market. But often, the best and most up-to-date advice comes from the internet, so don’t be shy in joining forums or asking questions of experts before you buy a particular plant.

Planting Ideas

No matter the size of the space, there are plants that suit. Whether you want to fill the entire garden with flowers or dot a few plant pots around, here are some easy garden ideas to get you started.


If you are going to place just one plant in the garden, make it a tree. Trees come in all shapes and sizes and aren’t as difficult to plant and care for as you might think. They make an excellent focal point, and depending on the species, they can brighten up patios and small gardens in pots. Alternatively, incorporate one into your garden design as a standalone focal plant.

Even a small garden space can benefit from adding a tree. Planting any type of tree can add shade and height interest to the outdoor area, attract wildlife to the garden, and can even yield a fresh supply of seasonal fruit. What’s not to like?

Plan Your Beds and Borders

The best flower beds and garden borders include a range of shapes, sizes, textures and colours that complement each other and offer interest throughout the year.

Start towards the back and plant some shrubs for architectural interest and structure. Choose plants with evergreen leaves to sit alongside deciduous varieties and place them behind perennial flowers and annuals for a beautiful garden bursting with colour all year round.

For a coordinated look, choose two or three colours and limit the different species of plants, repeating as you go along.

Hanging Baskets

Filling hanging baskets with colourful flowering plants is a simple and relatively cheap way to brighten a small garden. Garden centres usually stock ready-planted baskets brimming with bright blooms, or you can get creative and make your own.

If you want your baskets to look great throughout the year, start by planting them with evergreen trailing plants, such as English ivy. Add flowering plants for a seasonal burst of colour.

Group Plants

Grouping plants together is an easy way to create a focal point. Choose a range of sizes and textures and plant them in a mix of decorative and terracotta pots. Potted plants are easy to move around, so you can change the look up whenever you feel like it.

Ensure some evergreens are present in the display. Otherwise, it will look rather bare during the winter months. Consider mass planting and place two or three different plant species or colours in the same pot to maximise space and create a unique show.

Utilise Indoor Plants

If you have an exceptionally small garden space, don’t despair – you can still achieve a gorgeous garden effect by making the most of your indoor plants.

Place houseplants and kitchen herbs on the window sill or hang trailing plants from the ceiling in front of the window. Doing this means you can enjoy your plants from the garden as well as inside the house.

Determine how much sunlight comes in through the chosen windows and choose the right plants for those light requirements. Direct sunlight might be too much for some plants, especially when amplified through glass.


Treat the garden like an outdoor room and part of your living space, and choose accessories to brighten it up and make it feel homely and inviting.

Add an outdoor rug beneath tables and chairs, and hang some garden art from the wall or fence. Choose a sculpture or statue for a shady corner or to act as a focal point. Dot cushions around seating areas and strategically place a mirror to make a small space look bigger and essentially give the appearance of twice as many plants.

Let Lights Sparkle

Lighting is important in the garden. Even if you don’t plan to use your outdoor space in the dark, a well-lit garden is lovely to look out onto from the window. Great lighting can also offer a sense of security and deter potential burglars.

Fairy Lights

Who said fairy lights were just for Christmas? Most garden designers would agree that stringing lights from fences, pergolas, and even trees is a whimsical way to add light and texture to an outdoor space. String lights don’t take up any floor space and are ideal for decorating a small garden. Choose warm white tones for a cosy glow that complements your accessories and adds to the inviting feel.

Ensure fairy lights are suitable for outdoor use before you start, and opt for solar-powered bulbs that don’t need to be plugged in or have the batteries changed.

Pendant Lights

Pendant lights are ideal for creating a warm, cosy ambience in patios and pergolas. They emit more light than string lights, so they are perfect if you enjoy being in the garden as the sun sets.

Complement pendants with LED candles and lanterns underneath to even out the lighting and produce a wonderful effect.

Wall Lighting

If you continue to enjoy the fifth room of the house after dark, wall lighting is invaluable. From traditional lanterns to contemporary downlighters, there is something to suit every style of garden design. Match the tones to the rest of your garden lighting for a cohesive look.

Depending on the placement of your wall lights, ensure they have a high IP rating, which means they can withstand harsh weather.

Create a Vertical Herb Garden

Herbs are easy to grow and don’t take up much space. Most kitchen herbs can be grown as smaller plants and are ideal for vertical gardening. Vertical gardens take in everything from climbing plants to living walls. However, it also includes using shelves or hanging pots on a fence to display plants upwards rather than across the ground.

Place the herbs that don’t need much light towards the bottom of your frame, with smaller sun-loving plants towards the top. Harvest fresh chives, mint, basil, parsley, and oregano whenever you need them for flavouring dishes. You’ll also find your garden smells amazing throughout the growing season as the herbs produce some sublime aromas.

Invest in Quality Furniture

As we touched on earlier, garden furniture can make a huge difference to how you use your garden. Determine whether you prefer sunbathing with a book or sitting upright eating while chatting with friends and family.

Choose folding furniture or seating designed to fit underneath the table if you need to save space. Hammocks and swing seats can be suspended from fences, pergolas or strong tree branches to create an outdoor reading nook without using up much floor space.

Garden furniture should be treated as an investment, and it’s always worthwhile buying the best you can afford. When looked after properly and covered over winter, weather-resistant furniture will last for years, offering the perfect setting for relaxing in comfort.

Beautiful gardens don’t need lots of expertise. The key is to keep the space clean and tidy, then add some plants and decorative elements. Trees and flowering shrubs make excellent focal points, while smaller flowering plants produce plenty of colour and cheer. Finish off by adding a few personal touches, such as artwork or soft furnishings, and voila!

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