Garden design ideas

Caitlin Hughes Caitlin Hughes
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The garden is our very own little, or perhaps not so little, piece of nature where we can relax, socialise, and get back to basics. Whether your garden comprises of rolling acres of landscaped lawns, or is more of a modest affair, there are plenty of ways you can tailor it to suit your tastes and your lifestyle. Perhaps you're a fan of morning Tai Chi outdoors; or maybe you like to get stuck into manual work, so that you can have the pleasure of admiring the flowers you nurtured from the beginning when they're in full bloom. Alternatively, you might prefer to sit and enjoy the outdoors with as little stress as possible. Whichever sounds most like you, these top tips are bound to give you some inspiration to take your garden from mundane to marvellous: 

A traditional summer house

Summer house and Zen garden: modern Garden by Martin Hall Design
Martin Hall Design

Summer house and Zen garden

Martin Hall Design

There are lots of ways you can make the most of a summer house, regardless of the weather. Just take a look at this stylish, contemporary example from Martin Hall Design. Tucked away in the corner of the garden, this summerhouse offers a covered place to sit with a cup of afternoon tea and a slice of cake, with a calming view over the Japanese-inspired rock garden. The notion that summerhouses are quaint or 'twee' doesn't take into account the many modern designs now on offer. Whether you want to provide a fun place for your children to play house and get creative, or want a child-free zone where you can host dinner parties during the warmer months, you're bound to find something that suits you. 

A Koi pond

The Koi pond is the main focal feature in this beautiful landscaped garden. Lush greenery has been planted to divide the pond and and curved deck area, which not only offers an ideal spot for the family to sit out and admire the view, but also provides necessary shade for the fish. 

If you've been considering adding a Koi pond to your garden, you should bare in mind that Koi Carp require large, deep ponds to thrive (at least 2.5m x 2m x 1.2m deep). A good filtration system is also a must, and the pump must be capable of circulating the total volume of pond water through the filter in around one to two hours. If you have the space, however, a Koi pond makes a truly impressive and rewarding addition to your garden. If you want to continue with the Japanese theme, you could go one step further and incorporate a secluded covered area like you can see here—this is where the owners like to practice Tai Chi to get the day started on a positive note. 

Inventive flowerbeds

Sculptural inverted oak sleepers: asian Garden by Lush Garden Design
Lush Garden Design

Sculptural inverted oak sleepers

Lush Garden Design

If you want to keep things on a smaller scale, but still want to create a big impact, consider using timber planters such as these here, to add depth and variety to your garden design. Shrubs and flowers add extra movement and colour, and you don't need to crowd your borders with plants to transform your garden. In fact, choosing a few varieties of flower, and giving each some space, actually looks more aesthetically pleasing then an overload of shapes and colours. 

Romantic archways

Step back in time with a romantic archway, complete with intricately coiled metal work. Traditional style meets contemporary design in this dominant steel archway, which provides a contrast to the pastel shades and soft petals of the surrounding flowers. 

An archway such as this gives the garden a distinct focal point, as well as acting as a divider or marking a social area. Consider turning the archway into a spot for sitting and enjoying the view, with a complementary table and chairs set. An archway can completely transform your garden with minimum effort and next to no maintenance, so what's stopping you?!

Features for a large garden

Country Family Garden With Oriental Water Garden: country Garden by Cherry Mills Garden Design
Cherry Mills Garden Design

Country Family Garden With Oriental Water Garden

Cherry Mills Garden Design

If you're lucky enough to have acres of land for a back garden, utilise your space and turn it into something really special with a statement feature, such as this contemporary statue. Resembling a globe with its intertwining curved metal hoops combined at various angles, the design instantly draws the eye and gives the garden an edge. As you can see, one simple but effective feature is all it takes to bring a garden up to date. A simple, understated paved area has been added, but otherwise, well manicured lawns and stately trees stretch as far as the eye can see. 

Water features

Gabion water feature falling onto rainbow cobbles: rustic Garden by Paul Newman Landscapes
Paul Newman Landscapes

Gabion water feature falling onto rainbow cobbles

Paul Newman Landscapes

Water features have long been popular in garden design, and it's easy to see why. The sound of running water has an instant calming effect, and when sunlight catches on the reflective surface of the water, a pleasant glistening impression is created. The water feature doesn't have to be extravagant; instead, the natural elements will provide the wow factor, and the design itself can be as straight forward as layered stones or graded slate panels. For a modern look that brings rough, earthy textures into your garden, combine metal with an assortment of pebbles of small rocks. Sometimes the simplistic designs really are the best!

If you're still in need of garden inspiration, why not take a look at the following ideabook:

Country style gardens

What do you think of our suggestions for transforming your outside space? Have we missed anything off the list? Leave a comment and let us know 
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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