These garden designs will transform your space whatever your budget.
Looking to overhaul your garden? No matter the size of your garden or the budget you have to work with, these garden design ideas will help you to create an outdoor space to be proud of.
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Ranging from quick DIY projects to larger-scale landscaping ideas, we’ve got you covered, along with the expert tips you need to implement a garden makeover from Chris Bonnett, the founder of Gardening Express.
Where do I start when designing a garden?
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”– AUDREY HEPBURN –
“Designing a garden can be an exciting and creative experience but there’s also a lot to consider, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. Evaluate the available space you have for your garden and consider factors such as exposure to sunlight, soil type and drainage,” Chris says.
“You can sketch a rough layout of the garden, taking into consideration existing features, trees, pathways and seating areas. Also consider what is going on outside of your garden, for example, the neighbours’ seating areas or trampolines.”
The gardening expert adds: “To make gardening easier and minimise maintenance, choose plants that are native to your region and thrive in your climate.
“It’s best to plant in clumps rather than scattered individual plants. When the environment is suitable for a particular plant, it’s common to see multiple plants of the same kind growing together.
“Choose an overall style for your garden, whether it’s cottage-style, minimalist or tropical, and try to keep to the theme when picking out decorative elements or you can use eccentric style by using shaped dome enclosures to create a unique private dining experience.”
How can I make my garden look good on a budget?
“Designing a beautiful garden doesn’t have to cost a fortune,” says Chris. “You can start off by working with what you have and reuse the clutter and recycled materials in your home. For example, leftover wooden pallets or crates can be turned into attractive plant containers and old furniture can be repurposed and used in the garden.
“You can freshen up your garden by giving an old fence, patio, shed or garden furniture a fresh coat of paint. Opt for a colour that will complement your theme for the garden. We’ve noticed that people are increasingly incorporating darker shades in their gardens.
“An affordable way to expand your garden is to take cuttings from existing plants. Many plants can be propagated easily, and this method allows you to have more plants without extra costs.”
Here are the 12 tips and garden design ideas:
1. Bring the indoors outside
“If you want to make your garden a luxurious and relaxing space, try bringing some of your indoor living room elements outside,” Chris recommends. “You can accomplish this by adding outdoor furniture and accessories that complement your interior design. Look for opulent sofa sets, rugs, cushions, and throws to create a cohesive and comfortable outdoor area.”
Create a relaxing living area with outdoor sofas and cushions
2. Bring your garden into bloom
Flowers and plants will play a big part in your garden design, and even the smallest of gardens can look blooming beautiful with an assortment of colourful flowers planted in pots of varying sizes.
Take into consideration the aspect of your garden when choosing which flowers to plant; lavender, dahlia and petunia will all thrive in sunny borders, while plants like hydrangea and foxgloves may be better suited to shady spots. And don’t forget to add in some evergreen plants to keep your garden looking good all year round.
Flowers and plants will transform your garden
3. Don’t forget your boundaries
Fencing and walls can play a big part in your garden design, and something as simple as a lick of paint or adding a trellis can add the transformative finishing touches to your outside space and tie everything together.
The experts at eco paint specialists Thorndown also say that the perfect paint colour can help to make your garden feel bigger.
Painting your fence can give the illusion of a bigger garden
Caroline Thornborough, Director of Thorndown, said: “Your fence can visually extend a boundary when painted in the right shade. Deep and natural colours, such as Thorndown Wood Paint in Yew Green or Blackthorn, are ideal.
“Shades of blue will make your fencing disappear into the horizon, while greens will help them blend seamlessly into the countryside. Strong colours help boundaries move backwards and make gardens appear larger.”
4. Consider a pergola
Not only will a pergola create an attractive garden design feature, but it also has the practical benefit of helping to extend the amount of time you’re able to spend outside – creating shade on sunny days or shelter if the weather turns – the perfect spot to locate your garden furniture for al fresco dinners and entertaining.
A pergola can extend the amount of time you’re able to spend outside
5. Channel a Mediterranean aesthetic
“If you’re looking to create the atmosphere of a Mediterranean vacation in your outdoor space, consider incorporating elements such as large terracotta pots, pergolas, al fresco dining areas, Mediterranean plants and pastel colours in your garden,” says Chris.
Your styling could create a Mediterranean ambience
6. Create an outdoor kitchen
Popular with celebrities including the Beckhams and Courteney Cox, outdoor kitchens are now becoming a popular design feature in even the most modest of gardens, offering a spot to house a BBQ, pizza oven and prep al fresco meals all year round.
An outdoor kitchen makes a great garden design feature
7. Light it up
“The right lighting options are also important for giving your garden a luxurious glow. For example, install landscape lighting to highlight the pathways, trees, sculptures or water features. You could also consider hanging string lights across your garden or patio to create a charming atmosphere,” Chris says.
Adding lighting to your garden can provide a budget-friendly update
8. Add a focal point
Chris says a sleek water feature can be a great focal point in your garden, whether it’s an ornate sculpture or solar-powered fountain.
A water feature can make a great focal point
9. Level up
This may be a bigger project, but one that can make a big impact on the look of your garden. “Add some changes in level for dramatic interest – decks are a relatively cheap way of doing this,” Chris suggests.
Adding levels to your garden with decking is an affordable design idea
10. Consider patio design
Don’t let your patio be an afterthought; the style of slabs you choose and the way it is laid can have a huge impact on the overall aesthetic of your garden and should tie in with the rest of the styles you have chosen.
Your paving slabs should tie in with your overall garden aesthetic
11. Think about furniture
Your garden furniture can be a quick way to update your outdoor space, making it more practical and adding a stylish focal point. Think about how you’re most likely to use the garden before investing in expensive furniture; if you’re planning lots of al fresco meals you may be best off buying an outdoor dining table, whereas if you would prefer to spend time relaxing and socialising outside, an outdoor sofa set should fit the bill.
Think about how you want to use your garden when investing in furniture
12. Add a garden room
If space and budget allow, adding a garden room could not only be a great way to completely transform your garden and provide a handy spot for working from home, but it could also boost your property’s value – adding over £7,200 according to research published in 2022.
A garden room can add significant value to your property.
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