Relaxing garden design ideas - 15 of the best

Want to create the perfect chill out space in your garden? Check out the best design ideas for a relaxing garden.

What is a garden (opens in new tab) for, if not relaxing on a warm summer's day? However, while nearly everyone loves to kick back with a good book or catch some rays, some gardens are more conducive to chilling out than others. To help you achieve your garden zen, we've selected the 15 best design tips and tricks for relaxing gardens, guaranteed to turn your outdoor area into a stress-free zone.

When designing a calming outdoor space, be aware of your colour palette. Garish colours stimulate the senses, so plump for more neutral or pastel tones to keep your garden serene. Of course, bright accents - a pink candy stripe, say, or coloured florals - will make a garden pop, but the key here is balance.

If you're serious about upping the chill factor, a water feature is an excellent option. The gentle murmur of water helps to establish a truly tranquil ambience that's great for clearing your mind. Choose natural materials such as stone and wood to emphasise harmony.

For a casual relaxation zone, invest in oversized floor cushions, a stylish alternative to traditional sun loungers. A simple stool makes for a cheap and effective side table for resting your pitcher of lemonade! Alternatively, a hammock strung between two trees is a timeless addition to any garden. Just be sure to fill with cushions and blankets for an indulgent and inviting finish.

Perhaps you desire a more traditional country feel? Vintage-style benches nestled between lavender bushes or other scented plants will instantly transport you to a less hectic era. Informal planting will help to establish a rustic atmosphere.

Wicker sofa for neutral cushions and blue and white floral cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dan Duchars)

Design tips for a relaxing garden

A floral-patterned gazebo is the stylish option if you want to capture the feel of a laid-back garden party, while draping muslin or other light fabric over bamboo poles will provide you with a more relaxed canopy that's perfect for when you crave some cool shade. A garden room can create a tranquil space that allows you to enjoy the outdoors, whatever the weather. Browse our pick of the best garden rooms (opens in new tab).

Relaxed garden seating

One of the most important elements in creating a relaxed garden is comfy seating... so pile the cushions high and ensure plenty of throws are available for cooler evenings.

Wicker sofa

Oka (opens in new tab)

Large cushion and throw

Ralph Lauren (opens in new tab)

Stone garden water feature

(Image credit: Future PLC/Marcus Harpur)

Soothing garden water feature

Nothing is more relaxing than the gentle murmur of flowing water so be to sure to include a laid back water feature in your outdoor retreat. Use natural materials such as stone or wood for a harmonious feel.

Similar water feature

The Water Features Shop (opens in new tab)

Patio with waterproof outsize floor cushion and scatter cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/Paul Massey)

Comfortable and decorative garden floor cushions

Forget outdated recliners and opt instead for an outsize garden (opens in new tab) floor cushion upholstered in water-proof fabric. Perfect for full-stretch sprawling!

Floor cushions

Graham & Green (opens in new tab)

Fabric

Bloom (opens in new tab)

Fabric

Harlequin (opens in new tab)

Patio with white wooden bench, white cushions and coffee table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Nick Pope )

Calming pastel-hued breakfast terrace 

Bright colours have a stimulating effect, so stick to a muted colour palette, such as the pastel cushions of this quiet little breakfast terrace, to retain a feeling of calm in your garden (opens in new tab).

Bench

The Balcony Gardener (opens in new tab)

Side table

Gloster (opens in new tab)

Country-style garden with wooden bench, table and pink-hued cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/Mark Scott)

Relaxed country garden with vintage feel

Vintage furniture adds well-worn charm to a country-style garden (opens in new tab). Combine with scented old-fashioned plants such as lavender to be transported to a distant and more gently paced era.

Similar bench

Barlow Tyrie (opens in new tab)

Patchwork cushion

Cargo HomeShop (opens in new tab)

Large garden with canopy, white wicker chair and picnic blanket

(Image credit: Future PLC/Claire Richardson)

Romantic and relaxing garden retreat

Shutting out distractions is the key to unwinding and what better way to do that than with this romantic canopy? Secure bamboo spikes with twine and drape with floating muslin or cotton to create a perfect garden (opens in new tab) hideaway.

For similar fabric

John Lewis (opens in new tab)

For similar cushions

Habitat (opens in new tab)

Patio with step ladder planter filled with terracotta pots

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Informal potted plant display

Formal planting has no place in a relaxed garden (opens in new tab) space, so go wild with new ways of arranging plants. This pot staging is perfect for smaller terrace gardens and urban spaces.

Staging

Garden Trading (opens in new tab)

Candles

Llewelyn & Company (opens in new tab)

Pots

Petersham Nurseries (opens in new tab)

White garden swing with integral planting over garden patio

(Image credit: TBC)

Garden swing with integral planting

A garden (opens in new tab), a good book, a glass of homemade lemonade and a fairytale swing - what better way to relax on a summer's day? We love how this design features two integral plant pots so you can grow climbers up the ropes. 

Swing

Places and Spaces (opens in new tab)

Garden decking with circular table, metal tables and grey soft furnishings

(Image credit: Future PLC/Chris Everard)

Tranquil and shady garden dining area

There is nothing relaxing about blistering in the midday sun so ensure there are plenty of shaded retreats, such as this tranquil garden (opens in new tab) dining area, to help you keep your cool.

Chairs, Table

Exterior:Interior (opens in new tab)

Chair pads

Fox Linton (opens in new tab)

Parasol and bamboo stand

The Urban Garden (opens in new tab)

White cotton hammock with pink and white cushions and checked throw

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Scarboro)

Country garden hammock

And for the ultimate in garden (opens in new tab) relaxation - the mighty hammock! It doesn't get more laid back than this white cotton version heaped with soft, plump cushions.

Similar hammock

Lagoon Contemporary Furniture (opens in new tab)

Outdoor seating area with white benches, bamboo canopy, pink cushions and low table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tom Leighton)

Morroccan-style relaxed seating area

Stripes, delicate florals and large paisleys combined in a punchy palette of cerise and coral create a garden (opens in new tab) seating area infused with Moroccan flavour.

White canopy over white sun lounger with pink cushion

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jo Barnes)

Dreamy Arabian-style tent

For true escapism, erect a dreamy Arabian-style tent in the garden (opens in new tab). Drape sheer muslin across four wooden poles and add a comfortable lounger to complete the effect.

Pink and white candy stripe lounge cushions and rattan caddy on poolside patio

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tom Leighton)

Poolside seating for ultimate garden relaxation

Simple, easily portable seating in white and rasberry pink stripes give a jaunty feel to poolside relaxation. A rattan drinks caddy is the perfect accessory for transporting glasses to and fro.

Pink striped hammock with patterned cushions and striped throws

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jake Curtis)

Comfy pink garden hammock

Nothing conjures up lazy summer days quite like a garden (opens in new tab) hammock. Add cushions and throws for extra comfort and use a stool as a side table for drinks and snacks.

Floral printed marquee with neutral sofa, chair and red cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/Debi Treloar)

Floral gazebo for relaxing and entertaining

Evoking memories of traditional village fetes, a marquee will add character to a garden (opens in new tab) party. Here, a plain design has been customized with panels of boldly patterned fabric.

Summer drinks tables on grass under umbrella

(Image credit: TBC)

Let's go outside for relaxed summer drinks

What better way to relax on a sunny afternoon than a drinks party? Recreate the romance of summer evenings spent abroad with bistro tables shaded by parasols and nestled under overgrown trees.

Outdoor rugs will add a relaxed vibe while making it more comfortable underfoot for guests.

Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.