Garden landscaping ideas: how to plan and create your perfect garden

Take a look at our Q&A guide on how to transform your outdoor space into the landscape garden of your dreams

Re-designing your garden is an exciting prospect. Do you wish you had somewhere to sit, relax, entertain or let the children play? Maybe you are just a little bored and want a garden design that is more colourful, varied or maintenance friendly. Garden landscaping is the ideal way to craft an attractive space to grow plants that give you a beautiful environment and design a practical layout that allows you to use your garden how you want. But where do you start? Take a look at our answers to common garden landscaping questions; whether its planning and budgeting, resourcing and building or aesthetic planting, our guide holds the key to the garden landscaping design of your dreams.

How do I start my design?

Landscaping ideas start with good research. Take inspiration by visiting garden centres, public gardens, annual garden shows, even other people’s houses to get a feel of what is to your taste. Take into account your garden size and think about what you need your garden to do for you. Then, take to the drawing board to sketch your ideas and make mood boards from magazines and Pinterest of your dream garden landscape.

Elements to consider when first planning are:

Walls and boundaries Hedges and fences Paths and patios Lawns Water features Zoning areas (dining, playing, shading)
Planting: trees, shrubs, pots Lighting Out-buildings

Next consider your plot. Look at the size and shape and take into consideration the direction if faces, the style of your house it will be framing and the surrounding area. Achieving balance is a strong aspect of good garden design; pay equal attention to all areas and remember that plants and shrubs will change size and shape throughout the seasons. Do you prefer formal or informal gardens? Formal gardens tend to be tidy and geometric with lots of straight lines and clipped hedges, whereas informal gardens are made up of organic curves and planting is much more relaxed.

What landscaping materials will I need?

Select your materials with care and check the quantity and condition upon delivery. Common landscaping materials are:

Timber and decking
Paving and block paving Aggregates and sand (check that the chemicals included are suitable for horticultural use)
Concrete, mortar and render Damp proof membrane and landscaping fabric Exterior paints and finishes.

You’ll need to consider waste removal. There are two common methods; skip
hire or muck away. Consult your local council and waste removal
companies to find the most appropriate method or if hiring a professional to carry out your project talk to your
contractor to establish whether clearance is included in their service.

Who will do the work?

At this stage you should have realised whether your landscaping ideas will be a hands-on DIY job or a complete overhaul that will need the skills and labour of a professional landscape designer or tradesman that can do the work for you.


If you are tackling the job yourself, there are plenty of books, online guides or even short construction courses to help you get started. Most building materials (mentioned above) are easy to obtain from garden centres and builders merchants. Don’t overlook access points to your garden if materials are to be delivered and stored. Also look into machinery hire – you may need a cement mixer or even a digger to prepare the ground. Off-the-peg materials such as bricks, blocks, slabs, timber are rectilinear and
so are more straightforward and cost effective when building along
straight lines. If your design is curved, use more flexible materials
such as gravel, poured concrete or drystone techniques.


Deciding how much to spend on building structure, hard landscaping, planting and lighting can be daunting. For this reason, it is well worth employing a professional landscape designer and gardener to ensure you get the most beautiful garden your budget allows. It also makes sense if you need to install or move major services – gas, electricity or water pipes as then you must employ a qualified engineer to survey the site and undertake the job. They will see obstacles or shortcuts you may not have noticed and can ensure all work complies with relevant regulations. Reputable sites such as or RatedPeople can help you find skilled contractors in your area or you can find an accredited Garden Landscaper at Association of Professional Landscapers.

How much will it cost?

Your budget will decipher what you can achieve in your garden; here’s an overview on what you can create with the finances you have available.

No money options:
Have a good clean and tidy up of your garden. Prune overgrown shrubs and remove self-seeded trees. Edge lawns, clear weeds in beds and on paths. Swap plants with friends.

Up to £100
Do all of the above and then brighten the garden up with some new plants or accessories. Or, you could re-gravel and mulch planting beds with bark to suppress weeds and retain soil moisture. Invest in some attractive containers or visit a salvage yard and build a raised bed with reclaimed timber.

Up to £500
This budget allows you to consider building materials as well as plants. Simple concrete slabs, perhaps a new lapped panelled fence, re-turf your lawn or buy new garden furniture.

Up to £1000
You can just about consider bringing in outside help. Two days’ work by a skilled trades-person and materials for perhaps a new patio. Or, if you are doing your own work you can invest in a digger driver to prepare ground.

The lower sum will get you about a weeks work by a skilled tradesperson or team including materials. If your budget is at the higher mark a professional designer will help your money go far in terms of impact. Expect to pay a designer around 15% of your budget.

£10,000 – £30,000
With this as your budget you can hire a professional landscape designer and contractor to ensure your work is done to a specified standard. Creating a 10sq m garden with significant hard-surfacing, high-quality planting, barriers and special features, will cost from around £25,000 and with design fees on top you can quickly reach the £30,000 mark.

Obviously you can go even higher with your finances and a budget of this scale will enable you to create an incredible garden that can last for generations.

Do I need permissions?

Planning restricts differ widely from
one area to another. Consult the planning department of your local
council before going ahead, especially if you live near a Conservation Area. If planning permission is necessary your Planning Department will
require an application together with fairly detailed plans and a fee.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister contains up-to-date information about planning regulations.

How long will it take?

This depends on the type of project. If you have the budget and are employing the professionals, they will give you a detailed time-frame and work-plan in their quote. Working in stages can help with the cash-flow. Hard-landscaping should be completed first, if possible during winter months so the garden is ready for planting in the spring. Do not build walls or patio’s below 3 degrees as frost can weaken new concrete and mortar.

Which plants shall I choose?

One of the simplest ways to transform your outdoor space, be it an urban garden or country garden is to invest in a scheme based around your plants. A good selection of flowers, trees and shrubs will create year round interest. Spend some time getting to know your soil and aspect in terms of sun, shade and exposure. For structure invest in larger hedging and trees. For colour spend money on bedding plants and bulbs. Further research in books, garden centres and online will throw up so many planting suggestions. Potted flowers and plants are a great option for adding easy colour and the movability means you can change your design when the mood takes you. Be sure to plant them with plenty of drainage and water regularly.

Are there current trends to follow?

Everyone’s dream garden is different according to our tastes and lifestyles. Take a look at our garden galleries which are filled with ideas for traditional gardens, modern gardens, family gardens and innovative ideas for gardens big or small.


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