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If you live in the city and have a garden or outdoor space, then it makes sense that you'll want to get the most out of it. However, unless you're very lucky, it's very likely you have a limited space to play with, so creativity is key to ensure your precious outdoor area sings.
Let's start with the luxe end of the scale: the contemporary design of many urban gardens makes for an excellent backdrop to über-modern touches. Stylish outdoor showers and granite and steel kitchen areas can pack a powerful industrial chic punch while being - whisper it - dead practical.
Inventive topiary and statement walls continue the modern theme. Don't be afraid of using a bright - or even acid - colour palette for accents while wall murals will import an urban visual trope into a domestic space. Don't be afraid to go full-on futuristic - hanging tables teamed with steel garden furniture will be a key focal point.
Of course, urban gardens don't have to be avant garde, or even overly modern. You can always opt for a far more relaxed and low-key atmosphere by blurring the boundaries between indoors and out. Sofas, throws and other soft furnishings that pick out colours and textures from your interior will give a sense of continuity and make your overall living space feel larger.
Speaking of size, there's a number of shortcuts to establishing a sense of space in a compact urban garden. Plant vertically by using attractive, wall-mounted planters to free up floor space - you could even make your own - and hang mirrors to give the illusion of spaciousness.
1/20 Urban outdoor shower
An outdoor shower can add a luxe feel to your outside space and a touch of indulgence on a hot summer day, and no garden or terrace is too small to accommodate one.
2/20 Urban garden with external fireplace
Extend the use of your outside space as much as possible throughout the year with an external fireplace. Not only will it keep you warm, it will make a stunning centrepiece. Styling the garden with throws, cushions, lamps and night lights adds to the magic.
3/20 Urban garden with vertical climbers and oversized pots
Many urban gardens are long and narrow, so instead of taking up precious footage with high-maintenance beds, create a lush feel with hedges and climbers. These also add softness to slatted fencing and, teamed with classic-style seating and smart, oversized pots, help to create a tranquil urban oasis.
4/20 Urban outdoor space with different living zones
Creating zones is a clever way to add interest to an outdoor space and make it feel bigger than it is. This garden has a dining table by the house, creating a dining section of the garden which is further defined by the arbour.
5/20 Urban cooking area with outdoor storage
An outdoor cooking area means you can rustle up more than a few burgers on a summer evening. This impressive setup includes plenty of storage so you don't have to constantly bring out cookware from the kitchen.
6/20 Urban-style garden living room
If you use your garden as an outdoor living room, why not style it like one? There's a wealth of well-designed outdoor furniture to choose from, plus some indoor pieces work equally well outside. Add to the design with mirrors, exterior paint and candles.
7/20 Living area leading to urban garden
If you have a living area that leads directly onto the garden, create a feeling of continuity by using similar materials inside and out. This gives a sleeker look and also makes the overall space feel bigger. The result is an almost seamless continuation of style and colour from the house into the garden.
8/20 Alfresco dining area with with shade sail canopy
Not everyone is a sun worshipper, and shade sails are a great way to create a little bit of cover as they can be put up, moved and taken down as you please. They work particularly well over an alfresco dining table or seating area.
9/20 Urban decking area with interior design accents
Steal elements from your interior to add wow factor to your outside space. This design uses contemporary materials to create a stylish but low-maintenance urban garden. Laid-back garden decking is teamed with super-stylish furniture and colourful cushions.
10/20 Urban garden lighting
Bring a touch of the secret garden to your outdoor space with clever planting and outdoor lighting. The winding pathway, lit by paper tealights, encourages you to venture to the end of the garden.
11/20 White walled urban garden with pink accents
A high walled garden
is the solution to being overlooked by neighbours, but can make an
outdoor space feel confined. Painting it all white will make the most of
reflected sunshine while adding pops of acid brights will give it a
vibrant urban flair.
Similar floral cushions
Zara Home (opens in new tab)
12/20 Urban patio city garden with a view
With a compact cityscape patio garden, keep seating low for a cocooning
effect and anchor corners with larger plants and leave the spaces
in-between clear for maximum view appreciation.
Breeze dining chairs
Cane-line (opens in new tab)
13/20 Contemporary garden with topiary and a pink statement wall
More modern art gallery than everyday garden, playful topiary trickery and super-contemporary colours will have friends queuing up to enjoy a truly inspired outdoor space.
Dulux Endurance (opens in new tab)
14/20 Kitchen garden with concrete barbecue and grey fence panels
15/20 Modern white futuristic garden with hanging table
Look to more industrial materials to conjure up urban chic at its best. Steel and wire, alongside heavy doses of white, will add a futuristic feel to create an edgy outdoor garden space.
Similar moss covered letters
Not on the High Street (opens in new tab)
16/20 Architectural city garden
Mixed materials create defined areas and give a compact plot a modern
and structured architectural feeling. Bold greenery works in harmony to
soften the urban edge.
Acapulco string chair
Made in Design (opens in new tab)
17/20 Compact city garden with wall mounted planters
When urban translates to 'tiny', don't avoid the option to grow your own. Plant upwards by investing in wall-mountable planters and slatted panels - or build your own!
Similar balcony railing pots
Clas Ohlson (opens in new tab)
18/20 Compact garden tools, seeds and plants
A bread bin makes a contemporary stand-in for a traditional trug and
narrow planters and compact versions of all the necessary tools ensure
an urban garden is always well tended and tidy.
Similar storage box
Joseph Joseph (opens in new tab)
19/20 Ethnic garden full of colour and pattern
Bring playful patterns and bold colours into the garden to deliver the
spirit of ethnic chic, but with a thoroughly modern flavour.
Similar graphic outdoor rug
Overstock.com (opens in new tab)
20/20 Enclosed city garden with giant mirror
Try the old restaurant trick of using an oversized mirror to create the illusion of double the space. This adds bags of atmosphere in a garden and ensures everyone can “see and be seen”.
Similar garden mirror
Wilko (opens in new tab)
Inspired by these stylish urban gardens? Take a look at our gallery of conemporary gardens -19 of the best.
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.
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