42 easy garden ideas to transform your outdoor space in no time
Outdoor space is such a precious commodity that we all want to make the most of what we have. Our easy garden ideas will simplify your time planning, planting and primping your space so you can enjoy it to the fullest.
Whether you’re short on time, money or knowledge, these garden ideas are here to inspire you to create a space you love – whether you have a large lawn or petite patio.
There are plenty of ways to give your garden an instant lift without having to call in the professionals for hard landscaping – which can also help you save on garden landscaping costs. We’ve brought together our favourite summer buys, quick tips and easy garden ideas that will spruce up your space. We also have lots of easy patio ideas to consider, like moving things around for a fresh take – could the bench or table and chairs be repositioned? Plant plenty of tubs around the seating area with scented blooms and herbs for you to enjoy.
If you have a summerhouse or shed, consider giving it a fresh coat of paint for an instant lift. Fences might need a facelift too, so think about colour blocking to add some modern pizzazz to your garden. Alternatively look at using bamboo or reed screening positioned in front of fences to transform the look – these options are eco-friendly too.
Easy garden ideas
A garden is a huge draw for today’s house hunters – with some prepared to spend much extra on a home because of one. Yet the heavenly promise of a gorgeous green paradise can all too easily turn into a hell of unfinished jobs, particularly if you don’t live and breathe trowels and bedding plants.
If that sounds like you, our easy garden ideas may be just what you need.
1. Spruce up your table and chairs
If you have to leave your furniture outside during the winter months even with a cover on they can look a little unloved come spring. Giving them a refresh with a new colour is a smart and easy budget garden idea.
‘Chalk Paint™ loves the great outdoors! It offers an inexpensive way to freshen up garden furniture, fencing, plant pots, sheds, and even walls. Choose bright colours to bring extra impact to your garden even when flowers aren’t blooming. Or use cool-toned pinks and neutrals to create sophisticated, minimalist-chic exterior spaces,’ says Annie Sloan (opens in new tab), paint and colour expert.
2. Create seasonal displays
Styled displays aren’t just for your interior, you can do them outside too. Plant up some pots with seasonal flowers – for spring there’s hyacinths, daffodils and tulips to choose from. In the summer there’s cosmos, sweetpeas and snapdragons to name but a few.
Consider your vessels and choose some quirky pieces like an old colander, vintage vases and old wash tubs, they’ll look great full of colour.
3. Upgrade your lighting
As with our interiors, garden lighting ideas are key and a well-lit garden will set the scene as the sun dips down and help to not only allow you to walk safely but to create a cosy feel too.
‘Try adding layers of light to allow flexibility, depending on the time of day and the ambience you want to achieve. Wall lights will provide practical illumination for mixing cocktails and drinks preparations, whilst pendant lights will keep lighting soft to create a wonderful ambience,’ says Mara Rypacek Miller, managing director, Industville (opens in new tab).
‘These lights can then be further complemented through the use of more decorative candles, lanterns and string lights, depending on your preferred style. Always ensure you opt for good quality outdoor lights that are compatible with LED bulbs. These are energy efficient and have incredibly long lives, making them the perfect sustainable choice.’
4. Choose stepping stones
Create interest with a stepping stone garden path idea that meanders down to the bottom of the garden. Understated and practical, the irregular nature makes them a good alternative to a straight path plus it’s a cost-effective low maintenance option to update your garden.
Consider limestone, sandstone or slate, they’ll add texture and if you choose contrasting gravel the result will be rustic and stylish.
5. Keep toasty during the evenings
Outdoor fireplace ideas have evolved in the last few years, if you get the chill factor after the sun’s gone down they are a stylish addition. You can have one built in or opt for a moveable design.
They’re a step up from the standard fire pit and the chiminea design ensures a more impactful heat and therefore makes it a safer option for families because the shape reduces sparks and directs the heat up and away.
6. Install raised beds for easy gardening
With more of us starting to grow our own fruit and veg, raised beds are ideal if you want more space. You can make your own with planks, but if you don’t have the space then consider a design that has height and length over width.
‘Summer flowering bulbs like dahlias, lilies and gladioli can be planted in raised beds this spring for a burst of colour and fragrance in the summer months, and make great cut flowers for the home. Begonia corms can also be planted now in containers for early summer colour,’ says Marcus Eyles, horticultural director, Dobbies (opens in new tab).
7. Add in solar lighting
The beauty of solar lights vs battery-powered garden lights is that you don’t have to do anything yet you get beautiful ambient lighting and you’re not harming the environment – win-win right?
There are plenty of stylish designs to choose from, we particularly like paper lantern-style designs, available on Amazon (opens in new tab), that suit rustic gardens. They can add a pop of colour too.
8. Pop up a pergola
Pergola ideas add shade, zone an area and extend your living space. They’re also a wonderful space for entertaining, all you need to do is choose a design that suits your space.
‘Think about what you’ll use the pergola for as this will determine the style and type of materials you’ll want to introduce. For instance, a decorative wood frame will add a more traditional feel (and require more maintenance) whereas one in 100% aluminium will have a contemporary finish whilst being more robust, low maintenance, rust-proof and suitable for use all-year-round,’ says Reilly Gray, co-founder, Suns Lifestyle (opens in new tab).
‘Aluminium will also last a lot longer than wood and the problem with wooden pergolas is once the wood gets wet it can drip sap on the furniture below which can ruin furniture. The powder-coated aluminium will never fade and will look the same forever, the wood will change almost instantly after it has been installed,’
9. Go wild with fairy lights
Create a sparkling canopy of fairly lights above your outdoor seating area. It will set a wonderful scene and add ambient light too.
‘Extend your living space and create an enchanting fairy light canopy so you can enjoy evenings in the garden as dusk begins to fall. Daisy-chain multiple sets of fairy lights together and string the lights back and forth, up above the decking, attaching to pergola posts and wooden beams. Secure in place with cable ties for a fuss-free setup that’ll give your garden a simple yet effective refresh throughout the summer,’ says Hannah Willis, product executive, Lights4Fun (opens in new tab).
10. Make use of every inch
With the UK weather always being slightly hit and miss it pays to have a back up if you’re planning on having a gathering with friends and family. This is where a greenhouse can come in handy.
‘Looking to extend the brighter evenings and make the most of your outside space? With just a bit of imagination, you can transform your greenhouse in the perfect setting for some alfresco entertaining – even if the Great British weather does threaten to scupper your supper!
Dress your dining table with botanical textiles and flowers from the garden, and use plush cushions and blankets to bring a sense of texture and warmth. For some extra wow-factor, impress your guests by using delicate edible flowers as garnish, or infuse your favourite gin with some homegrown flavours such as basil & cucumber or rosemary & ginger,’ says Nelly Hall, brand director, Alitex (opens in new tab).
11. Add in a folding bar
Outdoor bars are all well and good, but not everyone has the space for an extra room. Instead, create your own little entertaining zone with a clever pull-down bar made from a couple of pallets and lengths of chain.
An outdoor herb planter above keeps them within easy reach for drinks and barbecues.
12. Create seating zones
‘Zoning your garden will make the space feel bigger and gives everyone their own space in nature,’ says Chris Bonnett from Gardening Express (opens in new tab). ‘Dividing the garden up into different areas, with different purposes can make the space feel more organised and is a simple way to make the most of every inch of green space.’
Many people think of garden zones being being created from structural additions. While it is true that planters, walls, screens and hedges helps to separate out your areas, so does cleverly positioned seating.
Create various seating areas in one space by making them all feel distinct from one another. For example, a table and chairs for dining, a hanging seat or hammock for chill time, and a casual seating areas delineated with an outdoor rug.
13. Create a living wall
Brighten up the side of a shed or drab brickwork by fixing a couple of vertical panels. Paint this a bright colour to make a statement, or allow it to blend in with the rest of the colours in the space. Add sturdy hooks to hang bucket planters and fill them with herbs or trailing plants to create a living wall on a budget.
Plus, you can easily switch these up with the seasons so there’s always some good-looking greenery.
14. Build on benches
Raised beds are having something of a moment – and for good reason. They look great, and are incredibly practical for a number of planting styles. However, you may be missing a trick. Utilise the sides of the beds to add on benches for a built-in seating arrangement. Accessorise with cushions and blankets to complement or contrast with your planting.
15. Have an outdoor blackboard
Sacrifice a section of a raised bed to create an area of deck with a giant blackboard and a covered sandpit for sunny-day play. It will keep the kiddies amused for hours so you can relax with one eye on them.
Fix a peg rail to the underside of the lid for hanging toys
16. Utilise an old stepladder
Create a vertical planting area by making use of an old stepladder. Lean against a fence and pile high with your potted plants and decorative elements. Keep the wood unfinished for a rustic look, or sand back and paint in a bright shade to make a contemporary statement.
17. Get spring cleaning
Every garden will benefit from a good tidy up – and it might not take much to take yours from drab to fab. As well as clearing up leaves and rubbish, dig out weeds and any plants that haven’t survived the frost.
Neaten the edge of your lawn for a more manicured look, power-wash grimy walls and give everything a sweep. It may be all your need to transform your plot.
18. Add some colourful plant pots
A gorgeous garden wouldn’t be complete without some colour and now’s a great time of year to start planning it. In grassless garden ideas, plant up a range of pots with summer-flowering bulbs – or buy some pre-planted containers – and dot them around the space.
If you can’t wait a month or two for your bright blooms, make sure the pots you choose are cheery and colourful.
19. Decorate and accessorise
Make this the year of your new outdoor living room. Water-resistant rugs, comfy furniture, garden art and mirrors help create a stylish area to relax. Add an electric or gas heater to stay snug and you’ll also get more use out of your new space during spring and autumn.
20. Swap your slabs
Think of your paving as the foundation of your scheme and you’ll realise just how much cracked slabs and missing bits can let down your new look. Replacing your paving can make a huge difference to the whole space, so it’s worth taking the opportunity to redesign the area at the same time.
21. Invest in some ‘faux-liage’
Real plants are great but they can also be high maintenance and dependent on the weather. Instead, try few items of fauxliage – in the form of faux topiary, shrubs and long grass. Not only are they more realistic than ever before, they’re a good way to brighten up your window boxes or front garden ideas all year round.
Imagine a pair of faux boxwood balls either side of a doorway, a blooming bougainvillea on your patio or some luxuriant hanging baskets that never need watering, and you’ll see what we mean.
Try Blooming Artificial (opens in new tab) for surprisingly realistic options.
22. Grow a wildflower garden
Add corners of living foliage that won’t require constant upkeep, like a single bed of wildflowers penned in with sleepers or stones to stop them from spreading out of control.
Scatter mixed packets of wildflower seeds for ease. To maintain your wildflower patch, you simply need to mow it back once in a while.
‘To encourage perennial flowers and grasses to make good root development, it is important to mow the meadow in the first year after sowing,’ advises the RHS website (opens in new tab). ‘Cut to a height of 5cm (2in) after about six-to-eight weeks of growth, and repeat every two months throughout the first summer.’
23. Create a quiet corner
Make the focus of your garden on creating a feeling of serenity and wellness. Position a garden bench or furniture set in a secluded corner to allow a space for quiet contemplation, surrounded by a thriving oasis of plants. This example features a pagoda frame, to allow the garden to grow above the seating for a fully immersive experience.
24. Make your own hanging basket
It’s time to learn how to plant a hanging basket. If you have an old colander at home, you’ve got the perfect starting point. All you need is a liner, some compost and flowers to plant up and you’re done. A DIY hanging basket is perfect for adding a splash of colour to a small garden that is short on floor space.
25. Take your old storage solutions outdoors
An old set of shelves are perfect for creating a budget friendly potting table or your own vertical planter. Be sure to weatherproof your furniture so that will last through winter and summer, why not consider giving it a colourful makeover with a pot of garden furniture paint?
26. Make a garden feel bigger with a mirror
If there is a dark, gloomy corner, try transforming it with a weatherproof mirror positioned to create a focal point where there previously wasn’t anything to see but cobwebs. In a small, enclosed area garden mirror ideas can also create the illusion of space.
27. Lay artificial grass
If you’re itching for a lush green lawn, but don’t have the time to put into keeping it trim and watered, artificial grass is the answer. No longer a taboo, thanks to some super-realistic designs, you won’t be afraid to tell your neighbours what’s got them so green with envy.
Just make sure to give it a once over with a stiff bristled brush every so often.
28. Encourage other things to grow with companion plants
This handy tip requires a little research before hand. Group plants strategically based on what blooms grow well with others and will help them thrive. For example strong smelling herbs such as thyme grow well next to roses, as the scent deters blackfly.
29. Embrace garden tech
If you really can’t be relied on to make sure your plants are regularly watered and fed, it might be time to look into a self-watering plant pot. There is plenty of gardening tech out there to make maintaining your plot of land easier. You can even get an automated wheelbarrow these days!
30. Overgrow on purpose
This is less an easy gardening tip and official permission to lay your pruning sheers down. Leave your mint to spill out of its plant pot, and alpine heather to grow unruly. Sometimes nature is best left to it’s own devices.
Give daily pruning a rest, and make your neglect a garden feature. Just make sure you keep plants well fed and pick plants that can handle a little tough love.
31. Plant ‘indestructible’ succulents
Instead of constantly battling with plants you just can’t seem to keep alive. Consider investing in succulents that can cope without a daily water, and are basically indestructible. But if you fancy something scented, jasmine is surprise plant that can take a lot of battering, but will need a sip of water in dry conditions.
32. Get power washing
This is the perfect time to spruce up garden decking or paving by giving it a thorough clean. A pressure washer will do the job with very little effort – and the transformation is so satisfying, you’re definitely going to want to Insta the before and after!
33. Cheer up a tired bench
Look to garden seating ideas to make a quick change in your garden. Try moving a garden bench to a new spot and creating a quiet area for rest and relaxation. Dress it up with plenty of cushions and a seat pad and think about sprucing it up with fresh paint if it’s been left untreated for a few years. We love the side table that doubles as a drinks cooler.
34. Set up a drinks station
If you’re entertaining outside, serve iced coolers from an easy-to-fill, Kilner-style drinks dispenser set on a wooden crate. It’s also great to have out when the kids are playing in the garden, filled with squash or water so they can help themselves.
35. Choose seating that swings
The best egg chair and hanging chairs can up the style factor in a garden instantly, not to mention create a lovely space to relax. For a boho vibe opt for an affordable hanging seat in a light canvas or a rattan egg chair.
If you prefer cottage garden ideas a more traditional swing seat with space for planters on either side might be a better option for a cohesive garden design scheme.
36. Plant herbs or bulbs in jars and tins
Why spend a fortune on planters when you could create a pretty display with recycled jam jars and food tins. Just be careful to sand down any sharp edges for you pot them up. Just remember to place a layer of stones at the base of the jars, and pop holes in the bottom of tins for drainage.
37. Paint the shed
A pretty potting shed or smart summerhouse can be the focal point of any garden, but a shabby one can really spoil the view. Cheer up an outhouse by learning how to paint a shed. We’d choose a sage green, deep blue or charcoal grey, alternatively make a statement with a vibrant pink that will contrast with the garden greenery.
38. Tidy up the lawn with hidden edging
A neat edge will keep your garden looking tidy. Moulded plastic edging, hidden in the earth keeps grass and weeds away from your beds and brick or stone edging help to frame your lawn – it’s available at all good DIY stores and garden centres. Your friends will wonder how you did it!
Putting a border edging around your lawn keeps invasive plants where they belong and stops soil or mulch from spilling onto the grass.
39. Create a cooking corner
If you love entertaining an outdoor kitchen area is a must and doesn’t have to be expensive. A built-in brick bbq looks professional and blends into the surroundings well. Bring the feel of the kitchen outside by fixing utensil shelves and spice racks to a wall.
40. Treat fences to a new look
Garden fence ideas can be a fantastic opportunity for you to express your creativity. For a contemporary look, paint strips in complementary colours. Not only will you be adding valuable protection, you’ll be making an artistic statement.
41. Throw some shade
Make the most of hot summer days and create a shady corner in which to sit and relax. A simple awning like this one is easy to create – you could recycle on old sail or even sheets.
A parasol in a bright pattern is another great garden shade idea that will add colour to your garden while creating a cool, shaded area for relaxing.
42. Build your own benches
If you’re really into DIY, why not learn how to make pallet garden furniture to create your own outdoor seating area? You could even make the hinged so that the whole unit doubles as garden storage for tools, or outdoor cushions. Continue the theme by building your own brick fire pit, allowing you to enjoy your garden late into the evening.
How to I make my garden look nice with no money?
Keeping your garden neat and tidy will make a big difference. Ask friends and family if they have any old tools, unused tins of paint and ways to help you start growing.
‘Spending time in the garden can have just as much impact as spending money. Simply weeding, cutting back any old deadwood and turning the soil will tidy up your pots, beds and borders, giving you a clean slate on which to start your new growing season,’ says Nelly Hall, brand director, Alitex (opens in new tab).
‘Local seed swaps are a great way to try growing new varieties of plants, fruits and vegetables – usually if you visit your local allotment, you’ll find a ‘seed library’ where people leave any unused seeds for others to use. Facebook is also a great place to find other local gardeners that might have seeds or seedlings to swap or give away,’ Nelly adds.
‘We’re huge fans of reusing and upcycling – a fresh lick of paint can transform a garden shed or some old garden furniture. It also enables you to experiment with different colours and styles, which can update and totally transform your garden’s look and feel – for example, painting fence panels black will give an urban and contemporary edge, while a soft sage green embodies a country cottage look.’
What is the lowest maintenance garden?
There’s no such thing as a no maintenance garden as weeds will appear and a certain amount of upkeep will be required, but you can achieve a low maintenance garden. One with no lawn and simply paved would work well – rather like a backyard – but one that can be a blank canvas if you want to have a certain amount of colour and get enjoyment from it.
Hanging baskets take little attention and if you have a border or two consider easy-care plants like lavender, geraniums and wildflowers.
How do I build a simple garden?
‘My top tip for garden landscaping is to reduce work and long-term maintenance by using ground covering landscape fabrics,’ advises Chris Bonnett from Gardening Express (opens in new tab). ‘It costs a little more, but it keeps the much-needed moisture into the soil over the hotter months. Cover it with cost-effective attractive materials, such as coloured slate or stones in contemporary designs or chipped bark for traditional cottage style gardens. To set out new plantings in the fabric, simply cut holes and plant through it. It is also great to suppress weeds.’
‘Another top tip for larger garden owners to consider when keeping landscaping work to a minimum is to select low maintenance, ground covering plants,’ continues Chris. ‘Rather than dotting plans here and there which leaves them looking lost, plant in blocks to create impact.’
What are the easiest plants to grow in a garden?
Growing fruit and veg from seed is much easier than you might think. Just pop a few seeds into some seed trays or pots filled with compost, leave then in a propagator or greenhouse, and water then regularly. Then in Spring, when there’s no more frost, you can plant them in the garden!
Some simple varieties to try are:
1. Chillies and tomatoes
Your seeds can be started off inside in March and April. Your plants will be ready to go outside in a sheltered, sunny spot from May.
Buy seed potatoes – small potato tubers that are certified disease free – rather than use your leftover old potatoes! Start by ‘chitting’ them in February or March. This means letting then grow shoots by placing them in trays or egg cartons and standing them in a cool, light spot. Once the shoots are a couple of cams long, pop them in a mix of soil, organic matter and fertiliser in a sunny place. Water regularly, and you’ll be able to harvest your potatoes in 10-12 weeks.
3. Runner Beans
Sow these straight in the ground outside as soon as the soil warms up. Use canes to support them as they grow.
As you can see, you don’t have to splash the cash to get the garden of your dreams.