How to design your garden

Your garden – it’s an important part of any home, but it tends to be a bit neglected!

While most properties have one, most homeowners don’t spend much time designing and maintaining it.

So if that bit of land at the back of your property is starting to look in real need of some TLC, or if you’re just considering a change of scenery, then you’ve come to the right place for some inspiration!

We have ten very different design ideas for revamping your garden – and there’s no excuses as we have ideas to suit gardens of any size and style, so there’s no turning back!

Read on to find out more...

Mediterranean Garden Style

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If you want it to be summer all year round in your garden, then a Mediterranean theme is the ideal choice. Start with the bigger things first – if your garden has a courtyard or external walls, then try painting them in light colours such as white, as this will help reflect the sunlight and also make your plants really stand out.

When choosing what you put in your garden, look for items with a more rustic and antique look. For example, opt for faded terracotta plant pots or ones with an ornate pattern, and when it comes to landscape go for pale limestone slabs for your pathways.

Try to choose lots of brightly coloured plants as well, as this will give your garden a warmer feel. The best colours for this look are hot pink, yellow, deep purple and red. It’s also important to inject lots of greenery into your garden too, so olive and lemon trees are perfect for creating a Mediterranean setting.

If you can, invest in some climbing plants as well such as roses, wisteria and vines, as once they’ve grown they will provide your garden with much-needed shaded areas in the warmer months and also create an ideal spot to put your furniture.

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Urban Garden Style

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No matter how much space you have in your garden, there is always a way to make it look great. Urban gardens often have restricted room to grow anything, so potted plants are the perfect choice.

If you want trees in your garden, then opt for smaller ones that can survive in large planters, such as buxus plants or bay trees, as lots of foliage looks nice contrasted with an urban setting.

Wood decking is a popular choice if you live in a built-up area, particularly if you have a rooftop garden as it helps to make the place look more natural and is a nicer alternative to concrete floors.  

Metal, silver or chrome accessories such as lanterns and plant pots are great for urban gardens as they look contemporary and fit in well with the surroundings, while cushions, throws, candles and even fairy lights or bunting will make it feel cosier and add warmth.

If you have limited room then wall art is an ideal way to decorate your garden, as it will add another feature without taking up any valuable floor space. You can also opt for wall-mounted plant pots as another space-saving method. If your garden is really small, you could even paint an exterior wall to add more of a personal touch.

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Water Garden Style

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Water is a great feature to have in any garden, but the first thing to do is consider how much of a focal point you want it to be. For instance, you could have just a hint of water in your garden by installing some water features or you could tailor your entire garden around this design by building a large pond.

If you opt to stay small with just a few fountains, then a larger one as a centrepiece will look great in a smaller garden, while a more spacious garden would benefit from having a few dotted about. Stone pebbles look great surrounding a water feature, while stone sculptures are also a nice accessory to incorporate.

If you want a large body of water in your garden, then choose larger plants to sit around the perimeter, as you don’t want them to look lost. Try going for cattails, lotus flowers and water lilies as these will thrive in wet environments.

Stepping stones and bridges are a great way to ensure all areas of your garden are still accessible. You can then bring your garden to life by adding fish and other wildlife into your pond.

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Cottage Garden Style

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Most people find the countryside a relaxing environment, so a cottage garden can provide you with an area for some well-deserved respite.

Vibrant colours are important for achieving this look, so start with lots of bright plants that remind you of spring – delphiniums, roses, foxgloves, lavender and hydrangeas are ideal. To keep your garden looking natural, try not to grow everything in straight lines and instead be more relaxed about where everything is positioned.

Gravel pathways are another great feature of a cottage garden and look pretty when woven between beautiful collections of flowers, while a traditional bench positioned at the end of the garden will provide a quiet place to sit and enjoy the view.  

When furnishing your garden, stick to natural materials and objects that will fit in well with the surroundings. Items such as bird boxes and bird baths really complement this look and will attract wildlife into your garden, while trellis or pergolas will encourage your plants to grow upwards to create hidden nooks.

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Contemporary Garden Style

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If you have a modern home, then you may want a contemporary garden to fit. A neutral colour scheme such as white is a great choice for this style garden and can be applied to everything from flowers to furniture and accessories.

Foliage really complements this look as the greenery will stand out more against a light and neutral colour scheme.

Try to organise your garden in straight lines so that you have neat borders and flowerbeds, and if you have any areas with grass then ensure it is kept short and that any hedges are trimmed into smooth shapes. You could also add slate chippings to your flowerbeds and pathways for a low maintenance look.

Chrome plant pots will instantly modernise your garden, while glass lanterns or tea light holders add a bit of warmth.

Outdoor lighting will give your garden a contemporary look when it’s dark by casting interesting shadows, and you could also consider painting any outside walls or fences in light grey or white to set them apart from a standard choice of colour.

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Formal Garden Style

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We all dream of living in a stately home, but if you’re still waiting on that winning lottery ticket then at least you can settle for your dream garden in the meantime!

There is one golden rule to remember with this one – straight lines. Hedges, pathways and flowerbeds should all be organised into straight lines if you want your garden to look smart.

Keep your trees and bushes well pruned and if you have a lawn ensure that it is always kept short. Buxus plants are ideal as these can be easily trimmed and can live in pots so they won’t become too hard to manage.

A limited colour palette is important as well, so white is a great colour scheme to choose if you want to keep everything looking formal and minimalistic, but try to keep your garden primarily foliage.

Overall you need to try and achieve symmetry throughout your garden – choose a focal point, perhaps a water feature or a sculpture, and base the rest of your garden around it.

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Informal Garden Style

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This one is for the occasional gardeners who want something that’s not too demanding. Keep your garden looking laidback by growing your plants in the ground instead of organising them in pots and planters. Remember that you don’t want your garden to look like it’s overgrown, so a bit of preparation is needed by ensuring everything is planted in the right order, with the taller ones at the back and smaller ones at the front, so you can still see everything that your garden has to offer.

Follow nature’s lead on this one by designing your garden in curved lines as opposed to straight ones – pathways and flowerbeds look more natural this way. Gravel is a great material for this look, so use it for your pathways and in your flowerbeds, while large areas of grass are also easy to maintain and create a relaxed look in your garden.

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Rockery Garden Style

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This type of garden is good all year round. Each type of rockery will look different depending on which stone you choose, so you can have anything from purple and blue to yellow and green.

Rockeries look great built on an incline, and could be the answer if your garden has a tricky patch of ground to work with.

To prevent your rockery from being all one colour or looking a bit dull, grow lots of colourful plants to break it up. As soil is the basis for any rockery garden, plants will still be able to grow quite well.

Try to include lots of different sizes and shapes of rocks to keep it looking interesting, and scatter different coloured gravel around to brighten it up.

Succulent and alpine plants work best in this type of garden, and come in lots of different shapes, sizes and colours so you can really make your rockery stand out.

If you feel that a large rockery might be too overbearing for your garden, then you could design something smaller to complement other parts of your garden, for example surrounding a water feature or running alongside a garden path.

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Natural/Wild Garden Style

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Go for this look if you want to create a tranquil meadow or private woodland area in your garden.

Plants should be the focal point of this design – foxgloves, the common daisy, poppy and cornflower are all native flowers and offer contrasting colours that look beautiful when planted together.

Use natural looking stone or wood for retaining walls or steps and bark chippings for pathways or flowerbeds, as this will create the feeling of being in a forest.

Fallen logs or mossy tree stumps are a great decorative feature, as they look like they’ve naturally ended up there.

A key thing to remember is don’t be too tidy or on top of maintenance – it could even be more effective to leave some parts of the garden undisturbed to let things grow naturally, which will also be a great way to attract wildlife.

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Tropical Garden Style

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Who wouldn’t want to feel like they’re on a never-ending holiday! If this is the type of garden you want to have, then start by injecting lots of bright colours – the best ones for recreating a tropical paradise are red, orange, yellow and bright purple.

Don’t forget that lots of foliage is important as well. Palm trees, ferns and bamboo trees are perfect, while also creating shaded areas that provide an ideal spot for a hammock.

Dark wood decking looks good next to tropical plants, while ponds and water features are great for completing the look, as well as statues and large stones.

Add some tiki torches, lanterns, outdoor lighting and colourful cushions for when it turns to nighttime, so you can still sit outdoors and enjoy your tropical paradise.

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