Outdoor space is such a precious commodity that we all want to make the most of what we have. 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. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Create a kids' area
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.
Fix a peg rail to the underside of the lid for hanging toys
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
Bradstone’s (opens in new tab) website is full of inspiration on the latest garden trends and easy ways to get the look you want.
11. 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.
12. 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.'
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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?
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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!
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. 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!
23. 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.
24. 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.
25. Choose seating that swings
With space for not one but two people to relax into, this hanging chair can be enjoyed indoors and outdoors. It makes a relaxed style statement whatever the weather, especially when you add on-trend faux furs and tufted cushions for extra comfort.
26. 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.
27. 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 with a fresh lick of exterior paint – we'd choose a sage green, deep blue or charcoal grey.
28. 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.
29. Create a cooking corner
If you love entertaining an outdoor barbecue 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.
30. 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.
31. 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.
32. 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 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. '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.
Amy Cutmore is Editor-in-Chief, Homes Audience, working across the Future Homes portfolio. She works on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.
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