Garden decorating ideas – 11 ways to get the best from your outdoor space

Garden need a little pick-me-up? Our top garden decorating ideas will easily transform your plot

Garden decorating ideas
Photography: Annaick Guitteny
(Image credit: Future)

We’ve always loved our gardens, patios and balconies, but outdoor space has become more important than ever in recent times. 

We all want to have somewhere to retreat to that feels like an extension of our homes, where we can host friends and enjoy some fresh air.

‘Styling your outdoor space should require much the same level of consideration as indoor styling,’ says Jonny Brierley at Moda Furnishings. ‘Think about layering pattern, colors and materials to create a setting that is personal to you and your style. As with your interior scheme, this styling should express your individuality.’

No matter the size of your plot, decorating your garden is definitely something you can have fun with. Creating a new look doesn’t have to involve a huge cost or a large landscaping job. Small changes or additions can make a really big difference. 

Whether you’re looking for a dramatic change or a little tweak, our garden decorating ideas will help you enjoy your outdoor space for many years to come – even if the weather is less than bright.

Garden decorating ideas

1. Choose colorful furniture

Garden decorating ideas

(Image credit: Annie Sloane)

Without furniture, it’s hard to use your outdoor space to its full advantage, so for many of us it’s the key starting point when decorating a garden. Bright bistro sets are a reliable choice and will look great everywhere from small balconies to spacious patios. Already got furniture but want to inject some color? Try a lick of paint. Just make sure to use a finish that will endure a life outside.

2. Take your living room outdoors

Garden decorating ideas

(Image credit: John Lewis)

In interiors, we often talk about bringing the outside in, but what about doing it the other way round and taking the inside out? If you’re going to spend a lot of time in the garden, then it should feel as comfortable as possible. Choose seating that wouldn’t look amiss inside your home, then add cosy blankets and a chilled glass of wine for the perfect way to wind down – though we can’t promise you’ll have this view!

3. Go au naturel

Garden decorating ideas

Photography: Alun Callender

(Image credit: Future)

Of course, one of the best ways to decorate your garden is with nature itself. There is nothing more beautiful than the greenery and color that plants can display. Terracotta pots will give you a classic look, but there are an array of other planter options, too, from cool concrete to the brightest blues or pinks. Another good thing about pots is you can easily move them around when you feel like changing the look of your garden.

4. Make use of lighting

Garden decorating ideas

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Just like the sparkle of festive lights at Christmas time, garden lighting can totally transform your space. From ground-level uplighters to wall-mounted bracket lamps, outdoor lighting takes many forms. An easy way to add a little magic is with a string of solar-powered bulbs hung from trees or on a fence. As they won’t need an electric socket they’re great for life in the garden.

5. Cover up

Garden decorating ideas

(Image credit: Future)

If there’s a slight shower, you don’t want your plans to be dampened. A cool gazebo will mean your outdoor lunch can still go ahead and it will offer plenty of scope for decorating, too. Try hanging a shower-proof fabric for a little extra protection from the elements and string up some multicolored lanterns (with faux tealights!) for a twinkling effect.

6. Be a soft touch 

Garden decorating ideas

(Image credit: Weaver Green)

Add a little pattern with some stylish cushions. ‘Comfort is all,’ says Tasha Green at Weaver Green. ‘Use lots of lovely outdoor scatter cushions, floor cushions and outdoor rugs to take the hard edges off outdoor furniture and benches.’ As well as the ground! Go for weatherproof designs that are washable so they stay looking their best for longer. 

7. Paint a wall or fence

Garden decorating ideas

Photography: Simon Bevan

(Image credit: Future)

The transforming powers of paint extend to the garden as much as your bedroom. Outdoor walls are often left unpainted, but can look amazing in a fresh and fun hue. Fences will also benefit from a coat of paint, whether you want to refresh your current color or try something totally new. White, duck-egg blue and classic green are ideal. If you’ve been dreaming of the perfect picket fence, now is the time to achieve the look.

8. Put up a screen 

Garden decorating ideas

(Image credit: Screen with Envy)

Whether it’s for privacy or purely for visual enjoyment, a garden screen is a great way to decorate your space. Screens can be used to provide shelter around a seating area or to enhance other architectural features, like the raised bed and water fountain here. 

9. Glow with lanterns

Garden decorating ideas

Photograpy: Polly Wreford

(Image credit: Future)

There’s no doubt that candles add atmosphere. Dot hurricane lanterns around your hard surfaces for a beautiful glow that won’t be disturbed by the breeze. Even during the daytime, hurricane lanterns make a garden look warm and inviting.

10. Swing low

Garden decorating ideas

Photography: Mark Bolton

(Image credit: Future)

If you’ve got two trees from which you can hang a hammock, you’ll love the laid-back feeling you get from lounging in one. Greenery is wonderful for calming the soul, so take a book and enjoy some time surrounded by beautiful leafy foliage.

11. Light a firepit

Garden decorating ideas

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Evenings in the garden will always be a little more special with a firepit. Gently flickering flames are mesmerising for almost all of us, and a firepit will keep you and your guests nice and toasty long after sundown. Perhaps you could even toast a marshmallow or two. Children aren’t the only ones who love them.

How do I decorate my garden?

Probably the best thing you can do is to make your space usable for as much of the year as possible and give it a warm and welcoming feel. ‘I recommend thinking about your garden project like it is another room in the house,’ says Bethan Harwood, home design stylist at John Lewis. ‘I would start by using a mood board to gather ideas and inspiration, but make sure they are achievable with the space you have.’ 

We’ve mentioned lighting as a vital part of a great garden scheme and Bethan agrees: ‘One aspect to not forget is lighting! Ambient lighting can create a cozy atmosphere as the sun sets in the evening. Consider hanging festoon lighting above your seating area for a warm glow and a scattering of lanterns to create pockets of light.’ 

How can I make my garden look nice on a budget?

Garden decorating ideas

Photography: Mark Bolton

(Image credit: Future)

There are lots of ways to achieve an interesting look and you don’t have to spend the earth. ‘Reuse different household vessels to plant up,’ says interior garden designer Ian Drummond. ‘Old wine boxes, storage boxes, old bins… Make it interesting with vibrant planting. Growing from seed is low cost and rewarding, and bulbs are a way to add variety and colour for the spring. You can get some great deals especially using online specialist plant retailers.’

In terms of accessories, Bethan suggests doubling up. ‘I would consider if there are any interior accessories that can be brought outside. You may already have the perfect cushions, candles or throws that would work for a cosy evening in the garden. Shopping your home is a great way to get a new look while keeping to a budget. You can then add other items, with flexibility in mind, so that everything in your home works a little harder.’

How can I make my garden fun?

Garden decorating ideas

Photography: Emma Lee

(Image credit: Future)

Gardens can be quite functional spaces so anything that makes yours stand out a little will give it a fun vibe. Add some comfort and wow factor, and anyone visiting you in your garden will feel like it’s an enjoyable place to be. If you’ve ever been wowed by a glowing firepit, for example, you’ll know the impact it can make. 

‘Firelight is said to create a more intimate setting, allowing guests to relax and talk, letting their guards down at the end of the day,’ says Jonny. ‘The fire provides a visual, psychological comfort from which you and your guests will benefit.’

Similarly, bright textiles always lift the spirits, as will colorful dinnerware. And who could resist getting a champagne bucket and bringing it outside for the ultimate in crowd-pleasing glamor?

Even planting doesn’t have to be serious. ‘Fill a sandbag with soil and plant it with color blocks of cyclamen,’ suggests Ian. ‘Or plant up old wellington boots with winter pansies so they hang down as they grow.’ 

Essentially, if you have fun planning your scheme, your garden decor is sure to feel fun.