Wildlife garden

Nine garden design tips

We reveal nine garden design tips to help you make the most of your outdoor space.

Whether you’re starting a new garden from scratch or looking to adapt an existing space, there are various ways to make your outdoor space feel larger, brighter and more private. These including using paint to hide or make a feature of a fence or wall, creating a curved lawn to make your space look bigger and using water or other form of sound to help create a relaxing, tranquil space. Whatever the size or aspect of your garden, there’s a huge range of ways to transform it into a vibrant, multi-use space that both looks and feels good.

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Looking for design tips? Discover Joe Swift’s three golden rules of garden design – incorporating movement, using planting and having a destination point – and how to apply them in your own garden, in our No Fuss Guide:

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Discover nine garden design ideas to try out in your own plot, below.


Pale boundaries

Pale painted fence with white flowers
Pale painted fence with white flowers

Walls and fences painted in pale colours will immediately help your garden feel bigger and brighter. For brick walls you can use masonry paint, while fences can be transformed with some outdoor wood paint. Pale boundaries will also show off your plants to their best effect.


Use sounds

Garden water rill
Garden water rill

Don’t underestimate the importance of sound in a garden. Whether it’s the trickling of a water feature or a breeze rustling through grasses and shrubs, it will help to create a peaceful, serene atmosphere. If the source of the sound is initially hidden, it will prompt visitors to discover its origin.


Statement hedges

Yew and box hedges
Yew and box hedges

A primary function of hedges is to mark out the borders of a garden, but they can also be ornamental features in their own right. High or low, straight or curved, formal or informal, wide or narrow, deciduous or evergreen – there are so many options.


Experiment with your borders

Curved tile path
Curved tile path

Garden borders don’t have to regimentally follow the boundaries of your garden, with a lawn stuck in the middle. Think about how you can use the space in the centre. Paths needn’t follow straight lines or grids – try soft curves and winding shapes that will make ornamental features in their own right, but also define the edge of beds or borders. Similarly, structures like pergolas or obelisks will add interest and variety themselves before they’re completely clothed by scrambling or climbing plants.


Curve your lawn

Circular lawn
Circular lawn

Circular lawns draw the eye to the centre of the garden and make it appear bigger because the boundaries seem to push out in every direction, and it can be trickier to see where the lawn finished if they edges are obscured by plants. If you have the space, you can partially overlap two circular lawns, with the lawn furthest from the house being slightly smaller to make the garden seem longer.


Reflective qualities

Raised pond
Raised pond

Water bowls, ponds and other bodies of still water are fantastic for reflecting light back into the garden, which is especially useful if you have a poorly lit plot such as a courtyard. Surround them with colourful plants, which will be picked up in the reflection and help to soften any hard edges.


Small tiles for small spaces

Patio area with small tiles
Patio area with small tiles

If you have a small garden with a patio, go for smaller tiles like these terracotta quarry tiles, which will make the space feel bigger. Larger slabs will dwarf a small patio and only make it look smaller. Take the colour of the tiles into account, too, and make sure that it’ll complement existing or future planting.


Secluded seating

Garden bistro set
Garden bistro set

Unless you don’t have any immediate neighbours, most gardens will overlooked to some degree by other houses. Around the tops of boundaries you can grow climbing plants to block out any gaps, while for seating areas, a pergola is invaluable. Covered with an array of climbing plants it’ll help to block the seating from view and create a cool, shaded area if you need a break from the sun. Discover some of our favourite plants for pergolas.


Planting for longevity

Large witch alder (Fothergilla major)
Large witch alder (Fothergilla major)

Some plants have a brief moment of interest before fading into the background for the rest of the year. To avoid gaps of interest, particularly when choosing shrubs and trees, consider what they’ll bring to the garden at different times of the year. Flowers, autumn colour, berries, ornamental bark and attractive foliage are all invaluable.

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