Garden decorating ideas – 24 ways to update your backyard
Use these garden decorating ideas to breathe new life into your yard and create the perfect space for summer relaxation
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Garden decorating ideas offer some of the easiest ways to reinvigorate your outdoor space. From adding pretty pieces to your patio to picking up a paintbrush and transforming the appearance of a wall, garden decorating ideas are guaranteed to bring color and character to your space.
We all want to have a backyard that feels like an extension of our homes, where we can host friends and enjoy the sunshine and some fresh air. Realizing this dream, however, can seem overwhelming. Instead, try approaching decorative backyard ideas as you would an indoor room; after all the goals are the same: to create a cozy and welcoming space.
‘Styling your outdoor space should require much the same level of consideration as indoor styling,’ says Jonny Brierley at Moda Furnishings (opens in new tab). ‘Think about layering pattern, colors and materials to create a setting that is personal to you and your style. As with your interior scheme, your ideas should express your individuality.’
Garden decorating ideas
No matter the size of your backyard, decorating should be something with which you can have fun. Creating a new look doesn’t have to involve a huge cost or lots of disruption. In fact garden decorating ideas can be as small as adding some color with garden wall ideas through to the more complex garden color schemes you create with planting.
'For a quick and hassle-free approach to decorating your space, place floor cushions and throws on a picnic blanket in a corner of your garden. The informal style will create a relaxing ambience that’ll perfectly complement an intimate gathering,' says Lucy Kirk, creative and photography manager at Lights4Fun (opens in new tab).
There are also many options for yard art ideas to enhance your outdoor space.
1. Create a patio with decorative tiles
A patio area is the perfect addition to a garden and one of our favorite garden decorating ideas. Patios are a great way to zone your space, separating your entertaining area from your flower borders, greenhouse and vegetable plot. It also offers the perfect space for your patio furniture ideas and for al fresco dining.
Consider creating a patio with patterned tiles as a characterful alternative to deck ideas and concrete slabs. If installing a tiled patio be sure to select tiles that are suitable for outdoor use and with a slip rating of R12.
2. Add a seating area in the sun
After all the hard work you put into maintaining your plot, having somewhere to sit and enjoy the fruits of your labor is a must. There are lots of different patio furniture ideas from cute coastal deck chairs through to sofa suites. Consider mixing and matching several different styles of outdoor seating to create a cozy space to relax at any time of the day or evening.
3. Don't overlook the soft furnishings
When planning your garden decorating ideas, treat your backyard as you would your interiors. Throws and cushions will go a long way to creating a cozy space, while a rug underfoot will encourage you to kick off the sandals and relax.
‘Cushions and fabrics may seem like small details but when it comes to transforming your space they offer a quick and easy solution, and as the days get warmer their transformative power is no longer limited to indoors,' says Martin Waller, the founder of Andrew Martin (opens in new tab).
'As well as bringing much needed comfort to your garden seating, the addition of outdoor cushions allows you to blur the lines between interior and exterior helping to create a space that is often left unused through half the year, feel like a carefully considered living area.'
4. Use decorative lighting to illuminate your space
Lighting is an essential part of any garden decorating ideas, adding instant warmth to the space and letting you enjoy your garden long into the evening. Layer several different outdoor lighting ideas to illuminate all aspects of your backyard. Consider adding pretty festoon lights to your pergola and patio and then pair with solar garden lighting ideas in the borders to create a soothing backdrop to alfresco meals.
5. Plant a living wall for a botanical backdrop
Why contain your planting just to your borders? Look skywards and create a decorative living wall set against your fencing or garden wall ideas. Filling the space with verdant green foliage and pretty blooms, your living wall ideas can be as large or small as you wish; maybe you want to cover an expanse of fencing or perhaps you just want a selection of herbs on a wall near a dining table, you can create your own space to reflect your own needs and design.
6. Create the illusion of space with a mirror
Decorating with mirrors is not just for the inside of your home. Adding a mirror into your garden is a great way to brighten your space and add depth. Pick a design shaped like a window, which when positioned on a wall or fence, hints at portals to different areas, giving your garden a magical air.
Furthermore, mirrors can also be used to brighten dark corners of your garden, position in a north-facing corner and see it transformed into a bright, cheerful space.
7. Plant a rose arch for height and fragrance
You can never have too many roses in your garden and adding an archway, draped in cascading blooms is a beautiful way to add height and architectural interest to your garden. Place an arch over a path to create a botanical link between two areas, or position over a bench for a floral oasis.
If you are considering adding a rose arch you need to make sure that you know how to plant roses and how to prune climbing roses to keep them looking their best.
8. Make a characterful focal point with a fountain
If you're looking for garden decorating ideas to transform your space into a peaceful sanctuary, then look no further than garden fountain ideas. The beautiful soundtrack of bubbling water feature will take your garden from lowly plot to dreamy oasis. There are plenty of different water feature ideas that will bring auditory and visual interest to the heart of your garden design.
9. Place a pot of flowers on your back doorstep
Garden decorating ideas don't have to be big projects. Something as simple as creating a pretty potted display, placed by your backdoor can add charm to your space – you don’t have to even go into the garden to have a touch of sunshine. Allow your container gardening ideas to be inspired by the seasons, for example there are plenty of fall planter ideas that are sure to brighten even the grayest October day.
10. Use an outdoor screen to create a peaceful oasis
Garden screening ideas are essential to keeping your garden a sanctuary. One of the quickest and easiest ways to achieve this is to install a screen. Positioned around your patio it helps to create a cozy intimate space where you can relax in peace. Opt for a design with small holes or a decorative pattern to prevent you from feeling claustrophobic, alternatively, pair with the best climbing plants to create a botanical oasis.
11. Lay a path to guide you through your garden
As well as being a more attractive alternative to trampled grass, garden path ideas offer a highly practical addition to the garden. When deciding where to lay your path, take a walk through your garden and make a note of your usual routes used to access sheds, vegetable plots and other zones. You can then add deviations to focal points such as main beds or water features. Make sure your materials and style complement the overall feel of the garden: tiles and pavers suit a more formal scheme while gravel or stepping stones are ideal for a cottage-inspired design.
12. Light up a firepit for a cozy heart
Evenings in the garden will always be a little more special with a firepit. Gently flickering flames are undoubtably mesmerising, and a firepit will keep you and your guests nice and toasty long after sundown. Perhaps you could even toast a marshmallow or two. Feeling fancy? Take a look at outdoor fireplace ideas to take this humble firepit to the next level.
‘Sources of heat, such as firepits, heaters and tabletop fires allow you to enjoy your garden comfortably when the temperature outside is less than appealing. Plus, installing these impressive displays enhances the aesthetic of your garden, and also provides lighting for those evenings when you just don’t want to go back inside yet,’ says Patrick Bridge, chief operations officer at Harbour Lifestyle (opens in new tab).
13. Install a hammock and then relax
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.
14. Blend rusticity with contemporary details
Getting your garden in order doesn’t mean you have to scrub every surface and fill in every crack – as this example shows, garden walls can be at their best when left a little rustic. Designers Yellow London contrasted the rural style of the stone work in this garden in the Greek island of Corfu with fresh, contemporary fabrics, ensuring that the surrounding terracotta urns and sprawling climber plants feel intentionally relaxed.
15. Think outside the box with recycled pots
When thinking about how to plan a garden, using pots is a great way to add some flexibility into the final layout. The pots themselves can also act as decorative pieces – choose highly glazed, colorful and patterned pots to make a grand statement, or get creative by giving past-their-best household objects another life.
In this garden, metal tubs, buckets and even a trash can have been transformed into makeshift plant pots, giving the space a hint of farmhouse chic.
16. Add pops of color with furniture in bright shades
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 balcony gardens 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.
17. Take your living room outdoors
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. Create an outdoor living room and choose seating that wouldn’t look amiss inside your home. Then add cozy blankets and a chilled glass of wine for the perfect way to wind down – though we can’t promise you’ll have this view!
18. Mimic nature in your furniture
If you want all elements of your garden to feel truly at one with nature, swap traditional garden furniture styles for something a little more organic.
In the garden of this South Carolina hunting lodge with interiors designed by Beth Webb, a dining set includes wooden chairs that have been carved to mimic winding tree branches, mirroring the young trees planted nearby.
19. Upgrade your shed to a summer house
Just as you can think about bringing elements of your indoor rooms into your outdoor spaces, it’s important to treat any outhouses and shed ideas with the same respect you would your house. Declutter, organize and paint your shed to make it a space that is pleasant to both be in and look at. If you're unsure of where to start there are lots of shed organization ideas that are sure to set you on the right path.
If you have enough space after your spring clean, consider turning the shed into a partial summer house: add seating, a table, French windows and even a machine washable curtain to make it the perfect post-gardening retreat.
20. Decorate with nature
Of course, one of the best garden decorating ideas is decorate 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.
They're the perfect planting solution if you're looking at different patio ideas for your garden and, another good thing about pots, is you can easily move them around when you feel like changing the look of your garden.
21. Create some shade over a dining table
There are lots of pergola ideas that will transform your patio into a multifunctional space. However, it's important to work out how your pergola will work in extreme weathers.
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.
At the same time, it's important to consider how the space will work in a heatwave. There are lots of pergola shade ideas and pergola roof ideas that will provide shelter from the heat of the day too.
22. Be a soft touch
Add a little pattern to your garden with some stylish cushions. ‘Comfort is all,’ says Tasha Green at Weaver Green (opens in new tab). ‘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.
23. Add color to your garden by painting a wall or fence
The transforming powers of paint extend to the garden as much as your bedroom. Traditional garden walls are often unpainted, but they 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.
'Select your color palette based on shades that will fit with your existing garden design and your plants, and most importantly, bring a smile to your face,' says Ben Thornborough, co-founder of Thorndown (opens in new tab). 'Use sample pots to make sure you’re getting exactly the color you want and always go with a wood paint that has been specially formulated for exterior use. This will ensure your chosen colors last longer.'
24. Set the mood with garden lanterns
There’s no doubt that candles add atmosphere. However, for garden decorating ideas that won’t be disturbed by the breeze, dot hurricane lanterns or moroccan solar lanterns around your hard surfaces for a beautiful glow. Even during the daytime, hurricane lanterns make a garden look warm and inviting.
How do I decorate my garden?
The best way to decorate your garden is to use garden decorating ideas that are an extension of your home and compliment your indoor decor.
‘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 that it's an essential part of planning a garden: ‘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?
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 cozy 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?
Color is a great way to make your garden fun. Colorful lights, flooring and plants all interest to your space. Similarly, garden decorating ideas such as bright textiles will always lift the spirits, as will colorful dinnerware. And who could resist getting a champagne bucket for garden party ideas with a bit glamour?
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.
Another way to make your garden stand out is to add a firepit. ‘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.’
How do I modernize my garden?
One of the easiest ways to modernize your garden is to add a patio. Whether crafted from patterned tiles, stone or decking, it provides a platform where you can entertain friends and family or just enjoy the sun. Go a step further and add patio doors to your kitchen to create a seamless flow between your interior and exterior.
Living walls are another modern look that is a sure fire way to modernize your garden. Adding a botanical flair to garden walls will also help to make your space feel larger.
Having graduated with a first class degree in English Literature, Holly started her career as a features writer and sub-editor at Period Living magazine, Homes & Gardens' sister title. Working on Period Living brought with it insight into the complexities of owning and caring for period homes, from interior decorating through to choosing the right windows and the challenges of extending. This has led to a passion for traditional interiors, particularly the country-look. Writing for the Homes & Gardens website as a content editor, alongside regular features for Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors magazines, has enabled her to broaden her writing to incorporate her interests in gardening, wildlife and nature.
- Ailis BrennanContributing Editor
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