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Unique Garden Design Ideas You’ll Love

A garden, though sometimes overlooked, is actually one of the most important features of a house – it’s the first thing people tend to see as they enter your property, plays a big part in the decision of potential buyers, spending time in one has been proven to boost your mental health[i] and designing your own can be a great form of self-expression. There are around 23 million gardens in the U.K[ii], and separating your own from the rest can be quite a task – never fear, though! There are a few distinctive garden styles out there that you won’t be able to resist trying your green fingers at!

Suitable for any size, type, and requirements, we’ve got a collection of unique garden design ideas for you to have a browse through, and we can guarantee you’ll find one that you love. So, whether you’re looking to transform your garden or want to add to the style you’ve already created, have a look through our tips to help you develop any outdoor space.   

Contemporary Garden

If you’re looking for a low maintenance yet incredibly eye-catching garden, a contemporary style would be perfect for you. Relying on clean lines, geometric shapes, and open spaces, a contemporary garden design is modern, minimalistic, and perfect for a constantly on the go lifestyle or a courtyard style lot.  

How To Design A Contemporary Garden

The aim of a contemporary garden is to create a relaxing, homey feel with little fuss, so make use of a simple structure composed of square, diamond or rectangular shapes guarded by raised flower beds or rectangular borders to keep the main area free of any unnecessary mess. Use materials such as stone, slate, and wood to compartmentalise the space while keeping with the minimalistic aim.

There’s no shortage of plants that will fit in with a contemporary theme, so you can bring all of your favourites into your garden. Bamboos, topiary shapes, and palms are perfect low maintenance choices, whereas Hemerocallis, eryngium and irises will add the perfect splash of colour to the landscape. You can incorporate your plant life into the architecture of the space too – make use of clipped hedges, simple planting blocks and specimen trees to create privacy without any manufactured restrictions.  

Formal Garden

To take more of a traditional approach, a formal garden is often what you see on the property of country parks and stately homes, and is completely planned out down to the last leaf. In many ways, it is an old-fashioned version of a contemporary garden, though it requires much more regular attention and doesn’t aim for a minimalistic finish. Making clever use of geometric shapes and straight lines to make the space feel more open, a formal style will result in an upscale garden to be proud of.

How To Design A Formal Garden

The traditional design of a formal garden must be planned out in detail, so to create your own, the first step is to map out the lay of the land and find out how hilly your space is, what kind of shape it is and how much sun it will receive. This will show you what will fit beautifully where and help you to put together your plan. Focusing on green leafy plants as opposed to eye-catching flowers sets the atmosphere of a formal garden, and the careful placing of symmetrical plantings, paths, statues, furniture, and open spaces, will finish the classy look.

A formal garden tends to have a structure in the centre, a focus that the rest of the garden is built to accommodate, so choose a focal point, such as a birdbath, a sculpture, a water fountain or a beautiful tree to structure your own space around.

Wildlife Garden

An animal enthusiasts dream, sculpting a wildlife garden requires a bit of maintenance and planning but very little tidiness. Built to attract all types of wandering animals, from insects and birds to small animals, a wildlife garden will quickly turn into a conservation space brimming with life and character.

How To Design A Wildlife Garden

There’s no specific design for a wildlife garden because it completely depends on the kind of wildlife you’d like to attract. Before getting too excited, it’s best to plan out the basis of your garden, considering the animals you want to bring in, how to create the best habitat for them, what plants and trees you (and the wildlife) like, what features you’d like (such as ponds) and how much space you have to accommodate all that life.

Choosing the right plants and trees is vital because they will create nesting spots, hiding places and safe areas for staying or passing animals. Taller trees and bushes make great nesting spots for some, and lower plants, shrubs, and wildflowers will provide cover for others. Again, this is dependent on what kind of animals you would like to bring in. Some common plants and trees that will bring in a variety of wildlife include:

  • Holly
  • Hawthorn
  • Ivy
  • Birch
  • Mountain Ash
  • Crab apple
  • Buddleia

Cottage Garden

This style of garden began in the countryside, where people liked to grow lots of fruit, veg and flowers, but city dwellers have recently been adapting the design for their own plots to reap the same benefits. Perfect for avid gardeners and people who don’t mind their garden taking over just a little, a cottage garden is less organised than the rest and is regularly low maintenance since nature is allowed to take its course.

How To Design A Cottage Garden

As a cottage garden can get quickly out of control for an inexperienced handler, it’s best to start small until you are confident in dealing with the overrun style. Ensure you use nutrient-rich soil that will help your plants thrive with little watering to save you work in the future and position your plants in the right place to receive plenty of sun.

Using tougher plants that require little maintenance is perfect for a cottage garden because they’ll create the unstructured style all on their own while you watch them grow. Choose plants that you love – a cottage garden is not reliant on a certain style or colour, so anything goes – but here are some ideas that you could try:

  • Wild indigo
  • Russian sage
  • Bellflower
  • Coralbells
  • Delphinium
  • Dianthus
  • Sweet William
  • Lavender

Urban Garden

Designed to be functional in relatively small areas, an urban garden is perfect for a balcony, rooftop, or a community garden if you don’t have your own actual garden space. With spatial awareness and a clever design, you can create an urban garden that seems as alive and entertaining as any other, bringing a bit of the countryside into the middle of the city.

How To Design An Urban Garden

The main aim of an urban garden is to create a space that appeals to the senses and will draw interest away from the surrounding buildings to your greenery. Opting for a simple, low maintenance design is perfect for such a small space, so add bold and bright plants in an array of pots and lots of foliage – there are many exotic plants that will flourish in the city but would die in the countryside, and adding little touches like this can transform a simple space into a proper garden no matter the size.

For privacy amongst all the surrounding buildings, grow tall trees and shrubs that will act as a kind of protection, but don’t be afraid to incorporate the surrounding buildings if you can! Repainting walls and growing climbers, shade-loving plants and glossy-leaved greenery can brighten up an urban garden instantly.

Small Garden

The general aim when designing a small garden is to make it look bigger, and it doesn’t have to be as hard as you might think it is. Making the most of your small garden isn’t limited to only expanding the space, though – a small garden provides you with so many possibilities that other gardens don’t possess, and these benefits can be styled easily into any design.

How To Design A Small Garden

To maximise space in a small garden, compartmentalising is often the way to go. Use screens or dividers to section your garden off, and dedicate each section to a different activity, like entertaining, relaxing, or growing fruit and vegetables. Decorate with brightly coloured furniture on raised decking or vibrant plants in raised flower beds to further magnify the space. When choosing furniture or other additions for your small garden, consider pieces that can fold away or be easily moved if you don’t need them, so the space doesn’t feel so cramped.

Mediterranean Garden

Surprisingly, a Mediterranean style garden is growing in popularity across Britain because it brings that sunshine and holiday feeling to your own doorstep even on the duller days. Although it requires a bit of space and care, a Mediterranean design will provide a beautiful finish that gives each of your senses a delightful European hit every time you step out.

How To Design A Mediterranean Garden

Terracotta gives the ultimate Mediterranean feel, so incorporate it into your decorations, plant pots and tiling to instantly set the mood. Use bright colours all around the space and set up simple, understated wooden furniture in the native style. If you have the room, gravel paths and water features are the perfect Mediterranean additions.

Many Mediterranean plants actually thrive in the British climate, though some flowers won’t survive the wetter winters and will need protection in the cooler climate. You could try planting:

  • Rosemary
  • Olive trees
  • Cypress trees
  • Phlomis
  • Succulents, like cacti

Design A Space You Know You’ll Love

No matter the size, type or requirements, there are so many ways to design a beautiful outdoor space for you, your friends, and your family to enjoy regularly. Spending time in the garden has been linked to better physical and mental health[iii], so designing a space you know you’ll love (and won’t mind looking after) can encourage all the benefits that just being out in nature can bring. Have fun!

Do you have any tips for designing your own garden? Let us know below!

  [i] https://www.capitalgardens.co.uk/blog/gardening-great-mental-health-wellbeing/#:~:text=Studies%20have%20found%20that%20the,as%20improving%20overall%20physical%20fitness.

[ii]http://www.wlgf.org/garden_resource.html#:~:text=About%2087%25%20of%20households%20in,%2C%20it%20is%20about%2061%25

[iii] https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/health-and-wellbeing/articles/study-on-the-benefits-of-spending-time-in-gardens

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