10 brilliant garden layout ideas to help create your dream outdoor space

How to nail the layout when planning your perfect garden retreat

Whether you need a more family-friendly garden or you want to create different zones, there are plenty of garden landscaping ideas to choose from. So it's important to weigh up all your options when you're thinking about garden layout ideas and what will suit you best.

'Garden zoning is becoming increasingly popular as it allows you to maximise the space available in your garden,' advises Leigh Barnes of Jacksons Fencing. 'This works by segmenting the area using screens, trellis or flowerbeds. This creates various zones such as a child friendly-zone, entertainment zone for welcoming guests and dining, and a private or snug zone. This could work well as a peaceful WFH spot during the summer months.'

Garden layout ideas

Be inspired to transform your garden with these top ideas that will help you nail the perfect garden layout for your space.

1. Build a firepit

garden area with wooden bench and fire pit

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Let the fun and games continue into the evening with a bespoke firepit idea and seating area where you can keep warm on chilly evenings. Build your own with bricks, or choose a portable design you can move around the garden.

Surround your firepit with built-in seating and top with cosy throws and cushions to keep the family warm during evenings where you can toast marshmallows over the open fire.

2. Create different zones

garden area with table and chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Consider different patio ideas to break up a rectangular garden into zones. A patio near the house is great for an area to eat and drink, while planted borders around the edge help to disguise fencing.

When marking out your different zones, spend time establishing which areas are sunny and which are shaded so you can make the most of the space.

You could even create two separate patio areas. One which gets sun in the morning and one which gets the last of the sun in the afternoon. That means you will always have a nice sunny spot to enjoy a cuppa or a G&T!

3. Make a cosy courtyard

courtyard with patio table and wooden fence

(Image credit: Future PLC)

For small garden ideas, position a table in the middle surrounded by seating for a cocooning sociable space.

Disguise brickwork or fencing using climbing plants such as clematis or climbing roses,. These will add colour, texture and fragrance to the garden fence ideas in a small space.

4. Lay winding paths

garden with curved pathway and trees

(Image credit: Future PLC)

For long garden layout ideas, create winding paths leading to different focal points such as patios or garden decking ideas. The curve of the path softens the shape and draws your attention to different parts of the garden.

Experiment with planting alongside the path – garden border ideas like this will break up any large expanses of grass. Then choose plants of different heights and colours for depth and visual interest.

Fragrant plants such as lavender work well as you can enjoy the scent wafting through the air as you pass by.

5. Make a secret hideaway

garden corner with couch and cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

Turn a corner of your garden into a little nook, with built-in seating and a pergola above to add shade. This creates a quiet spot to unwind.

Camouflage the area with planting, such as easy climbing plant ideas. Allow these to grow up and over the pergola to an intimate feel. Tuck the seating behind borders full of lush plants so the space feels hidden away. For overlooked gardens, this is a great trick for adding more privacy.

6. Design a multifunctional space

garden with blue shed and egg chair

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Plan a layout that utilises every area to tick off all your garden needs. Built-in outdoor seating provides a sociable space to relax. While a summerhouse gives you a quiet retreat to enjoy if the weather isn't great.

Tall structured planting softens the hard landscaping and adds texture and colour to the scheme. Choose grasses and evergreen plants for easy maintenance.

7. Soften hard landscaping with plants

garden area with lounge chairs and plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Break up an outdoor space that's one large expanse of patio with small beds of plants. Use circular beds and then create a winding walkway through the space.

Make sure to pick the sunniest spot for a seating area you can enjoy for most of the day. Small trees such as acers are great for adding height and colour to a courtyard outdoor space.

8. Install a bespoke bar area

garden area with bar and drinks trolley

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

Gardens are made for socialising, so if you like to spend a lot of time entertaining friends and family why not build your own bar or even an outdoor kitchen idea?

Make sure you're able to close up the front come winter. This will prevent the bar interior from getting covered in leaves and garden debris.

A bar area makes a great addition to a patio near your outdoor dining table and barbecue. It means you can keep food and drinks within easy reach.

9. Add a shady spot

garden area with pergola and dining table

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Create a shaded dining area by building a pergola for a patio cover idea. It's important to have a shaded dining spot in your garden especially when it comes to the summer months. It always pays to have somewhere cool to relax.

Look out for canvas sails as an alternative to a pergola. These can be used to cover the area if you want more shade or to protect you from light rain.

Pergolas also look great when festoon lighting is hung across. It will set a relaxing atmosphere for an evening outside.

10. Make it family friendly

garden area with chalkboard and toys

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Make a dedicated area of the garden just for little ones to enjoy.

Incorporate a small sandpit and a mud kitchen to keep them entertained. An outdoor chalkboard wall gives them space to get creative outside. When it comes to bigger gardens, a playhouse or climbing frame will give them hours of fun.

Position kid-friendly areas near a patio area or the house. That means you can keep an eye on them while they play.

How do you get the most space in a small garden?

The first thing to consider is what the main use of the space will be. If it needs to be multifunctional, choose garden furniture which can easily be folded away when not in use.

Bistro sets are ideal as they are compact and can easily be hung up on a garden wall with hooks when you're not using them.

'When you have a small garden, you must ensure you know exactly what you want to use your garden for, similar to how you would design rooms in your house for specific uses,' explains Jonny Brierley, CEO of Moda Furnishings. 'Storage and multifunctionality are the two key elements that all outdoor furniture for small gardens should have.'

A few potted plants dotted around will give colour if you don't have space for a border, while a small shed or storage box will help you keep the garden clutter-free by hiding away tools, toys and garden chairs.

What's the most low maintenance garden layout?

Breaking up a large expanse of grass with a patio or decking area will mean spending less time mowing during the summer months.

A paved space is one of the most low maintenance options, along with using artificial grass. 'Several things can make a garden low maintenance,' explains Fiona Jenkins, gardening expert at MyJobQuote. 'One of the best ways to achieve this is by creating a patio garden. A patio requires very little maintenance when compared to a lawn.'

Fiona continues: 'If you're adamant that you want a lawn in your garden, artificial grass is the most low maintenance option, and this doesn't require mowing or watering. Decking is also another option for a low maintenance garden.' Bear in mind that large expanses of either are not very sustainable. Some grass and plants are needed to help pollinators thrive in the garden.

Amy Hodge

Amy Hodge has been working on interiors magazines for over 11 years. She's a freelance writer and sub editor who has worked for some of the UK's leading interiors magazines including Ideal Home, Style at Home and Country Homes & Interiors. She started at Style at Home just after it launched as food editor and is now chief sub editor for Ideal Home, Style at Home and Country Homes & Interiors.