Stylish succulent garden ideas to bring a new look to your space

Whether you want to plant in the ground, in pots or create a decorative display...

Collection of succulents planted into garden bowl
(Image credit: Future PLC/Heather Young)

Of all the trends piquing our interest, nothing is hitting quite like our succulent garden ideas. This Instagram - and heatwave - friendly gardening style is quite simply ticking all the boxes.

As much as we love all types of garden ideas, those with as little maintenance and most style are always gong to be the winners, and that's succulents to a T.

'Succulents are one of the most popular types of plants - and for good reason,' agrees Kate Lindley, Product Manager at Baby Bio. 'These hardy plants come in all kinds of weird and wonderful shapes and sizes, they are happy both indoors and outside, and they’re relatively easy to look after.'

Kate Lindley headshot
Kate Lindley

Kate is an absolute expert when it comes to keeping houseplants happy. With over 5 years in the horticulture industry and a focus on making sure houseplants get the right nutrients they need to thrive, Kate is passionate about sharing her expertise with fellow plant parents. 

Kate boasts many botanical beauties in her own interior jungle at home, and her favourites include the Monstera deliciosa and Alocasia zebrina because of their uniqueness and beauty, although Kate is a firm believer that you can never have too many houseplants!

Succulent garden ideas

'You’ll want to start by finding the perfect spot for your succulent garden ideas to live in,' explains Jo Lambell, founder of plant company Beards & Daisies. 'We recommend finding a bright spot but one that isn’t in direct sunlight.'

'Whilst succulents are used to hot conditions, they prefer to only bask in the sun for two to three hours a day. Pick a spot which enjoys the morning sunlight, but that is shady come midday.'

1. Plant into your paving

Succulents planted into slate section of garden path

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jamie Mason)

Perfect for even the most petite of small garden ideas, try planting your succulents not simply into the ground, but by carving out a section of your paving or decking. Stones or slate will fill the gaps between the planting perfectly, but don't forget to consider the soil beneath, too.

'You should opt for sandy soil to provide plenty of aeration to the root system and allow for free drainage,' advises Kate from Baby Bio. 'You can pick up a specialist sandy compost from most garden centres, or you can even mix your own using three parts potting soil, three parts sand or gravel, and two parts perlite – just be sure to give it a good mix and water before potting your plant.'

2. Play with height

Garden with Mediterranean planting and tall purple succulents in pot

(Image credit: Future PLC/Heather Young)

You may associate succulent garden ideas with being very close to the ground. And while this is very common, you're missing a trick if you're not looking more vertically, too. 

Some varieties will actually grow quite tall, like Aloe Vera and Aeonium Arboreum. If you plant these taller plants in large pots you'll create a statement feature and add more depth to your space. It's also an easy way to create a pretty display within your front garden, perhaps on either side of the porch.

3. Go for a tonal palette

Collection of succulents planted into garden bowl

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Succulents aren't only green - and as gorgeous as shades of green are, sometimes it's good to mix things up. Curate a selection of succulents in a tonal palette of reds, all the way from rusts, to umber and into burgundy. 

Pair these with terracotta garden ideas for a fully considered and styled outdoor space.

4. Integrate into a flower bed

Terracotta pot with range of succulents surrounded by other plants and flowers

(Image credit: Future PLC/Heather Young)

If you can't decide between keeping your succulent garden ideas planted in the ground or in pots, don't fret as you can have you cake and eat it! Place a succulent-filled pot into the flower bed itself and you'll be adding a new dimension to this area. Choose a natural coloured and textured pot to create interest even when surrounding foliage is more sparse.

'If you’re creating a container garden, you have the benefit of being able to control the compost mix completely, just remember to ensure all pots for succulents have a drainage hole to allow any excess water to drain away,' says Kate from Baby Bio. 'This will reduce the risk of becoming waterlogged and help to prevent root rot.'

5. Blur the boundaries

Garden paving with succulent planting

(Image credit: Future PLC/Heather Young)

For a unique take on succulents that'll feel perfectly at home in modern garden ideas, look at replacing some of your paving slabs with greenery. The contrast between the geometrics of the tiles and the shape of the succulents will add a delightful contrast.

You may choose to lead these straight into a flower bed, so be considerate of what else you plant. 'When choosing companion plants for succulents, opt for varieties that prefer similar conditions – plenty of sunlight, free-draining soil, and infrequent watering,' explains Kate from Baby Bio.

'Herbs such as Rosemary, Thyme and Sage, or flowers such as African Daisy or Lavender all work well, as they tend to prefer the same growing conditions.'

6. Style up outdoor shelving

Stone shelving on garden wall with pots of succulents

(Image credit: Future PLC/Heather Young)

Add some shelving to your garden wall ideas to act as an easy spot to display arrangements and plants. It's also a perfect hack if you're tentative about outdoor succulent garden ideas as you can decorate the shelves with a selection of planted pots, and take them inside when the weather turns.

'Succulents can thrive both indoors and out,' says Jo from Beards & Daisies. 'But it all depends on the conditions they’re in. They prefer milder temperatures and don’t like to be overwatered, which can make planting them outdoors in the UK a little temperamental – but not impossible!'

7. Utilise a shallow bowl

Shallow bowl with collection of succulents beside two firepits

(Image credit: Future PLC/Heather Young)

Shallow bowls are the perfect container for your succulent garden ideas, especially if you've opted for varieties that tend to spread rather than grow upwards. Plus, succulents really don't need much depth to stay healthy.

'Succulents have shallow roots, so they can grow very happily both in the ground or in containers or pots,' explains Kate from Baby Bio. 'The key is to ensure the compost provides plenty of drainage, so if you are in an area with naturally clay soil in the garden, you’ll want to add plenty of free-draining soil to the hole before planting.'

8. Be flexible by planting in pots

Garden table with succulents in pots

(Image credit: Future PLC/Heather Young)

A collection of succulents in smaller pots are perfect if you're hosting garden parties or simple enjoy dining al fresco. All you need to do to mix things up and create a fresh scheme is to play around with how the pots are arranged and where they are. 

It's also handy to plant them in plastic containers (with drainage holes). That way you can change up the outer pot with ease to match whatever look you're going for.

9. Create a statement display

DIY display of name up of succulent planting

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

For a fun twist on succulent garden ideas, create a delightful display of living letters. You'll need:

Start by filling each of the cake tins approximately three quarters full with compost and pat it down so it's compact. Decide how you'd like to arrange the plants in each tin and make a hole in the compost where each plant will sit. Position and plant the succulents.

Use moss to cover the compost in between the succulents by gently pushing it into place using your fingertips. Play around with the design until you are completely happy with the finished look of each tin. Stand up to display and you're done!

10. Pretty up a stepladder

Wooden stepladder in garden with tools and collection of succulents in pots

(Image credit: Future PLC/Richard Gadsby)

Even if you're working with budget garden ideas in the smallest of spaces, you can still work a succulent garden in. A simple stepladder provides an easy and good-looking method for creating an eye-catching display.

To make the most of this area, choose varieties like a String of Pearls which will beautifully trail down the steps.

What are the easiest succulents to care for in a garden?

'While most people grow succulents indoors, there are several hardy varieties that will do very well outside,' says Kate from Baby Bio. 'Euphorbias come in lots of different shapes, sizes and colours, making them an attractive yet low-maintenance addition to a succulent garden. 

'Sempervivum and echeveria are also popular varieties to grow outside, but as long as they are placed in a sunny yet sheltered spot most will thrive!'

What is the best position in a garden for succulents?

Succulents enjoy a partly sunny spot, so they can get the best of both worlds. 'All they need to thrive is plenty of sunlight, occasional watering with a good quality fertiliser, and sandy soil to prevent roots from becoming waterlogged,' explains Kate from Baby Bio.

'Generally, there are only two main reasons you may struggle to keep succulents alive, and that is if you don’t place them somewhere they can enjoy six hours of sunlight a day, or if you are an overenthusiastic waterer and allow them to sit in damp compost.'

How do you start a succulent garden?

'The secret to successfully growing succulents is in the soil,' says Kate from Baby Bio. 'Most species live in the desert (although some species are forest or jungle dwellers), so you should always begin with the correct type of compost to recreate their natural habitat. For this reason, standard potting mix will not suffice.'

'As a general rule of thumb, most plants need a mix of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium for optimum growth, but cacti and succulents prefer a balanced NPK ratio, so it’s best to invest in a specialist food.'

Thea Babington-Stitt
Managing Editor

Thea Babington-Stitt is the Managing Editor for Ideal Home. Thea has been working across some of the UK’s leading interiors titles for around 10 years.

She started working on these magazines and websites after graduating from City University London with a Masters in Magazine Journalism. Before moving to Ideal Home, Thea was News and Features Editor at Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc and Country Homes & Interiors.