Whether you've got a big or small garden, there are a range of design ideas and updates you can make to achieve that dream outdoor space.
From adding a pergola to give summer shade to constructing an outdoor dining spot to host family and friends, a garden makeover can undoubtedly help increase its attractiveness and practicality.
Keep reading to find out our favourite back garden transformation ideas
1. Make your garden a honeypot for nature
Even small gardens can be hotbeds for wildlife with the right plants and layout. Planting plenty of lavender, perennial wallflowers, marjoram, and buddleia will attract a significant amount of butterflies and other pollinating insects to your garden throughout the summer.
If you don't have enough space in your garden, make the most of your garden's walls by attaching hanging baskets to them. Hanging baskets bursting with colour can give your garden an interesting look while attracting wildlife in the process.
Bird baths and feeders will also bring plenty of birds to your outdoor area throughout the year.
The list of wildlife-friendly ideas goes on, including the likes of bee hotels, hedgehog highways, and wildlife ponds.
2. Create privacy with a tall garden wall
More than just a boundary of your property, a garden wall creates the backdrop to your space. Sprucing up your garden wall can make a real difference in the overall look of your space, and it can often be done as a DIY job if you’re keen to save money.
With some great options for garden walling at Marshalls, you’ll be sure to find the perfect choice to aid your garden renovation. For a contemporary and elegant finish, consider the Fairstone Sawn Walling. Or, for timeless vintage brickwork, Phoenix Facing Brick Walling would be the best choice.
For extra privacy (and biodiversity!), plant some shade-loving greenery alongside the wall. For DIY-ers, we even have veneer garden walling which can easily be attached to an existing wall or solid surface to give an instant makeover.
3. Add shelter and privacy with a pergola
We all know that British weather can be unpredictable, but a rainshower doesn't mean you have to stay indoors. A pergola helps to make a great socialising space but can also keep you sheltered from stormy weather, as well as provide shade if your patio is in the full sun.
Besides providing shelter, a pergola can also create an added sense of privacy. If your garden walls or hedges don’t provide enough seclusion from your neighbours, adding a pergola could be a good option.
If you’ve got a medium to large-sized garden, you could also use a pergola to create zones within the space, splitting it into entertaining, dining and play areas for example.
Under the pergola, you could create a comfortable seating area by adding a furniture set or even add a hot tub. Complete the look with an outdoor rug, lighting, and a sizable mirror, which will make a smaller space look much bigger.
If you’re keen to use your garden all year round, consider buying a fire pit to use under the pergola. Just make sure you don’t leave it unattended or let young children play close by.
4. Add steps between the garden levels
If you have a sloping garden, consider levels to create different zones, with steps to make this more accessible. Each level could incorporate a different theme, from a seating area to a wildflower patch, and you could use low-level lighting to bring a sense of drama to the space from dusk.
To create a more defined and cohesive look, choose steps which match your patio paving - many ranges offer coordinated paving and steps. Or you could opt for the same material but not an exact match, for example, natural stone steps from Marshalls which come in a selection of finishes and are ethically sourced.
5. Make room for an outdoor kitchen area
Give yourself plenty of incentive to spend time outside by kitting your garden out with a kitchen area. Besides increasing the function of your garden, adding an outdoor food-prepping area means you can host parties and occasions without missing out on the socialising! Pizza ovens, outdoor fridges, sinks and high-spec barbeques and warming ovens are often on the must-have lists for those looking to create a stylish outdoor kitchen.
When it comes to designing your kitchen area, make sure you consider its proximity to the dinner table; make it as easy as possible to transport the food to your guests, and clear away afterwards.
6. Maintain a living wall
When redesigning your outdoor spaces, adding a living wall could add character and vibrancy. As impactful as horizontal planting can be, vertical landscaping can bring an otherwise bare wall to life.
It's easy to create a living wall using wall-climbing plants such as climbing hydrangea, star jasmine, firethorn, and bluebell creepers. If you’re a keen gardener, you’ll enjoy adding extra plants to your crop, but if you prefer a low-maintenance garden, you could look to invest in a small-scale living wall irrigation system.
As well as looking lovely and giving extra privacy, a living wall will attract more living creatures. Who doesn’t want a biodiverse garden that attracts local wildlife?
7. Design an attractive path
In many ways, your garden path defines the rest of your space. On a practical level, it leads guests to the various sections of your outdoor area. But by choosing the right colour and shade, your garden path can also help to elevate the rest of your landscaping efforts.
A good-looking path is a well-paved path. Create an eye-catching outdoor walkway with concrete or natural stone materials, paired with matching decorative paving edging to give your garden path a finished look.
8. Create impact with potted plants
Potted plants can create an impact in gardens of any size. So whether you’ve run out of space in your borders or just want to fill a gap, potted plants can make a great addition. Not only do they work to keep your plants neat, but they also give your garden a refined look.
Pallet planter boxes and metal drawer planters are a current garden trend and can create a distinctly rustic appearance.
Heavy concrete or copper planters definitely create the most significant impact, or you could use cinder blocks to create an intricate planter structure to give your garden an urban look.
9. Choose your furniture wisely
If you've only got a small garden, make sure to invest in furniture that can be easily packed away when not in use - we'd recommend going for folding furniture.
If you've got a big garden with plenty of free space, invest in good quality furniture that you can keep outdoors throughout the year or that can be covered over easily.
A big garden is no use if you don't have somewhere to sit and admire it all from. And when it comes to garden seating, you’re not short of options! Swing seats, hanging chairs and egg chairs are a fun addition, and sunloungers and daybeds will be particularly welcome during the hottest months.
If you’re totally rethinking your garden design, you could consider built-in seating, which can often be created using the same paving materials as your patio and paths, for a fully coordinated look. Built-in seating needs no maintenance, and it’s ready and waiting for you whenever the weather is right.
10. Provide atmosphere with outdoor lighting
Outdoor lighting not only creates an atmosphere for your outdoor living space, but also allows guests to admire your new garden design from dusk. Plus, it makes it easier (and safer!) for you and your company to meander back and forth from your house to your garden sitting area.
Don't limit yourself to freestanding lamps along the garden path; brighten your whole back garden with wall lights, string lights, ground lights and freestanding lamps. Additionally, you could wrap fairy lights around trees to make it extra special.
11. Use colour to create a greater sense of space
If you're looking for small garden ideas specifically, giving surfaces in your small space a new coat of paint could really increase your sense of space. By selecting white furniture and painting all visible walls white, you can create the illusion that your small space is much bigger than it actually is.
Alternatively, painting your garden fencing black or another dark shade could create the impression that the fence is taller. A dark shade accentuates other brighter aspects of your garden design, especially green foliage and colourful flowers.
12. Go for a zen garden design
If you're not planning on hosting social events in your garden, focus instead on making it a place to enjoy peace and tranquillity by giving it a zen garden touch. This can be attained by adding a small pond with running water, moss to cover shaded areas, decorative stones, and Japanese plants, such as Acer Palmatum 'bloodgoods', which can thrive in UK weather.
You don't always need a big garden to create a zen-inspired space - in fact, having a small or narrow garden may actually work better. You don't need a lot of space to add a water feature, and the closer it is to your seating area, the more immersive and relaxing the sound of the running water becomes.
We'd recommend planting flowers that give off a strong scent, such as jasmine, and arranging herb gardens nearby. This way, you'll delight your senses as you relax in your very own zen paradise.
What are the best DIY garden ideas?
In terms of garden furniture, you could make practical and attractive seating and tables out of old wooden pallets. If you're looking to add a lot of potted plants to your garden, try recycling an old wooden ladder to create different levels for holding the potted plants. Alternatively, you could turn old cinder blocks or metal drawers into plant pots.
What is the definition of a low-maintenance garden?
A low-maintenance garden is a garden that features evergreen shrubs and other hardy plants, plus patio paving that requires minimal upkeep, such as porcelain. As the name implies, it involves garden design ideas that minimise your upkeep. Low-maintenance plants don't need to be pruned or watered as frequently as others, and porcelain paving absorbs less water than alternatives which means less staining.
Transform your back garden with Marshalls
From constructing an outdoor kitchen to enticing local wildlife with flowers and greenery, renovating your garden is all about making your space more functional and increasing its use. It's also about turning your drab outdoor space into a beautiful garden, bustling with plants and kitted out with comfortable furniture.
When transforming your garden, DIY can be implemented when working on flowerbeds, furniture and seating arrangements, as well as painting and decorating.
Use Marshalls resources to take care of the hard landscaping aspect, and check out our selection of garden paving, kerbs and edging, natural stone walling and artificial grass.