Back to all News

DIY Garden Design: How to Design a Garden in 10 Easy Steps

Are you ready to transform your outdoor space into a stunning and inviting garden? With the right approach, you can design your dream garden in 10 easy steps. Garden design not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of your home but also contributes to your well-being. Imagine stepping into your garden and finding yourself surrounded by beautiful flowering plants, calming water features, and comfortable seating areas, a true oasis of tranquility waiting just outside your door.

In this comprehensive guide on how to design a garden, we’ll walk you through each step of designing your perfect garden, from identifying your garden style and purpose to selecting the right plants and accessories. So grab your gardening gloves and get ready to turn your vision into a reality with our “how to design a garden” tips.

Short Summary

  • Identify your garden style and purpose, assess outdoor space, and create a layout plan

  • Choose the right plants for your climate and soil type, and incorporate hardscape elements to maximise space

  • Enhance with accessories, prioritise maintenance & consider budget/timeline. Seek inspiration from professionals.

Identify Your Garden Style and Purpose

Defining the style and purpose of your garden is the first crucial step in creating a cohesive and captivating outdoor space. To do this, consider the architecture of your home and your personal preferences. Do you envision a romantic cottage garden filled with flowering shrubs and winding pathways? Or perhaps a more formal garden with neatly trimmed hedges and geometric flower beds? By selecting a particular style, you’ll set a clear direction for your garden design, ensuring harmony between your home and your outdoor space. Whatever you choose, remember you will be looking at it from your beautiful, warm roof conservatory.

In addition to the aesthetics, it’s essential to consider the functionality of your garden. Will it serve as a vegetable garden, a play area for children, or a serene retreat for relaxation? Discussing your project with family, friends, or even professional garden designers can help you identify your garden’s purpose and the essential elements you want to incorporate.

With your chosen style and purpose in mind, explore various garden ideas to design a garden that reflects your dream garden. This can include images from gardening magazines, social media, or local gardens that inspire you. Remember to consider the three fundamental garden design principles for novices: scale, colour, and plant groupings.

Finally, take into account the size and shape of your garden beds and borders, as well as the surrounding landscape. This will help you determine the best placement for your plants and other design elements, such as large shrubs, garden buildings, and water features.

Assess Your Outdoor Space

Before diving into the design process, it’s essential to analyse your outdoor space thoroughly. Take note of its size, shape, and any existing features, like trees, fences, or garden buildings. This information will be crucial when designing your garden layout and selecting the right plants for your space.

Sunlight exposure plays a significant role in your garden’s success, so pay close attention to the amount of sun or shade your outdoor space receives throughout the day. Different plants have different sunlight requirements, so this will help you choose the appropriate plants for each area of your garden.

Another essential aspect to consider is the existing hardscape elements, like pathways, patios, and retaining walls. These structures can influence your garden design and may need to be updated or removed to create a cohesive look.

Lastly, think about the foliage groups and flowering plants that can add visual interest to your garden. Some options to consider include:

  • Large-leaved plants

  • “Dotty” foliage

  • Spear-like foliage

  • Medium-sized plants with glossy foliage

By assessing your outdoor space thoroughly, you’ll have a solid foundation to build upon as you design your dream garden, including the addition of outdoor rooms.

Create a Garden Layout Plan

Now that you’ve identified your garden’s style, purpose, and assessed your outdoor space, it’s time to develop a layout plan. Here are the steps to follow.

  1. Start by measuring your yard.

  2. Create a scaled drawing using graph paper or digital tools.

  3. Visualise your garden design and ensure that all elements fit together harmoniously.

When designing your garden layout, consider the desired locations of various functional areas, such as seating, play areas, or vegetable gardens. Keep in mind the amount of sunlight or shade these areas receive, as this will affect the plants you choose and the activities that can take place in each space.

Don’t forget to include essential elements like:

  • Walkways

  • Patios

  • Fences

  • Pergolas

In your garden plan. These hardscape elements can help create structure, delineate spaces, and facilitate transitions between different areas of your garden.

Finally, consider the placement of your plants, ensuring each plant has sufficient space to reach its mature height and width. By creating a detailed garden layout plan, you’ll have a clear roadmap to guide you through the rest of the garden design process.

Choose the Right Plants for Your Garden

Selecting the right plants for your garden is crucial for both the aesthetic appeal and the overall success of your outdoor space. To choose the appropriate plants, consider factors such as:

  • your regional climate

  • soil type

  • wind exposure

  • the amount of sun or shade your garden receives

When arranging plants in your garden, consider their water requirements. Avoid placing low-water and high-water plants in close proximity, as this could lead to issues with over- or under-watering.

In addition to water requirements, think about the size and shape of individual plants, especially when selecting trees and evergreens. Be sure to provide enough space for each plant to reach its mature height and width, as overcrowding can lead to poor growth and unhealthy plants.

Finally, consider incorporating companion planting into your garden. This involves planting plants that can benefit each other in a symbiotic relationship, such as by providing shade, deterring pests, or enhancing soil quality. By carefully selecting and arranging your plants, you’ll create a thriving, beautiful garden that reflects your chosen style and purpose.

Incorporate Hardscape Elements

Hardscape elements can have a significant impact on your garden design, providing structure, organisation, and visual appeal. Some popular hardscape elements to consider incorporating into your garden include:

  • Pathways

  • Patios

  • Decks

  • Retaining walls

  • Water features

  • Outdoor structures like pergolas and gazebos

When selecting hardscape elements, consider the style and material that will best complement your garden design. For example, natural materials like wood or stone can enhance a rustic or cottage-style garden, while sleek, modern materials might be more suitable for a contemporary design.

In addition to aesthetics, think about the functionality of your hardscape elements. For example, pathways can help guide visitors through your garden and connect different areas, while retaining walls can provide essential support for sloping gardens or create raised beds for easier planting and maintenance. Remember to balance your hardscape elements with soft planting and greenery, as this will help maintain a natural and inviting atmosphere in your outdoor space.

By thoughtfully incorporating hardscape elements into your garden design, you’ll create a cohesive and visually stunning environment that enhances your overall garden experience.

Utilise Vertical Spaces

Incorporating vertical elements into your garden design can help maximise your space and add visual interest. This is especially beneficial if you have a small garden or are looking to create distinct areas within your outdoor space. One effective way to utilise vertical space is by installing trellises or living walls. These structures can support climbing plants and wall shrubs, such as clematis, roses, honeysuckle, or wisteria, creating a lush, green backdrop for your garden.

In addition to trellises and living walls, consider incorporating tall plantings into your garden design. Tall grasses, evergreen shrubs, or even small trees can add height and create a sense of enclosure, making your garden feel more intimate and secluded. Don’t forget to consider the functionality of your vertical elements as well. For example, pergolas or gazebos can provide shade and shelter, while tall plants can act as natural screens for privacy or wind protection.

By effectively utilising vertical spaces in your narrow garden room, you’ll create a dynamic and visually appealing environment that maximises every inch of your garden space and outdoor space.

Enhance Your Garden with Accessories

Personalising your garden with decorative accessories can add a touch of charm and character to your outdoor space. Garden ornaments, like statues, birdbaths, or wind chimes, can create focal points and add visual interest to your garden. Lighting is another essential accessory for your garden, as it can transform the atmosphere of your outdoor space, particularly in the evenings. Choose lighting that complements your garden style, such as lanterns, string lights, or solar-powered accent lights, to illuminate pathways and highlight key features.

Furniture is another important aspect to consider when accessorising your garden. Select comfortable and durable furniture that matches your garden style and complements your hardscape elements. For example, wooden benches or Adirondack chairs can enhance a rustic garden, while sleek metal or minimalist furniture might be more suitable for a modern design.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to get creative with your garden accessories. Incorporate unique, personal touches like homemade birdhouses, repurposed planters, or colourful cushions to make your garden truly one-of-a-kind. By enhancing your garden with carefully chosen accessories, you’ll create a welcoming and inviting outdoor space that reflects your personality and style.

Prioritise Garden Maintenance

A well-maintained garden is essential for the long-term success and enjoyment of your outdoor space. When planning your garden design, take into account the time and effort required to keep your garden looking its best. Consider allocating a portion of your garden budget for ongoing maintenance, such as pruning, watering, and soil preparation. This will ensure that your plants remain healthy and your garden continues to thrive throughout the seasons.

When selecting plants for your garden, choose varieties that are easy to maintain and well-suited to your regional climate. This will help reduce the amount of time and effort required for upkeep and ensure that your garden remains vibrant and healthy.

Finally, remember to plan for future additions or improvements to your garden. As your plants grow and your garden evolves, you may need to make adjustments to your design or incorporate new elements. By prioritizing garden maintenance and planning for the future, you’ll create a lasting outdoor space that you can enjoy for years to come.

Consider Garden Design Budget and Timeline

Establishing a budget and timeline for your garden design project is crucial to ensure that you can achieve your vision without overspending or becoming overwhelmed. Here are some steps to follow.

  1. Start by setting a realistic budget for your project, prioritising essential elements like hardscape construction, soil preparation, and plant purchases.

  2. To save on costs, consider using reclaimed or recycled materials, opting for affordable paving options like gravel, or incorporating more plants instead of hardscape elements.

  3. If hiring a professional garden designer is not within your budget, consider a one-day consultancy to get expert advice and guidance for your project.

When planning your garden design timeline, take into account factors like the time of year, your schedule, and any potential obstacles like planning permission or conservation area restrictions. This will help you set realistic expectations for the completion of your project and ensure that you can enjoy your new garden as soon as possible.

Lastly, remember that your garden design project doesn’t have to be completed all at once. Break your project into smaller tasks and tackle them one at a time, gradually working towards your dream garden. By considering your garden design budget and timeline, you’ll create a beautiful, functional outdoor space that you can enjoy for years to come.

Seek Inspiration and Expert Advice

As you embark on your garden design journey, it’s essential to gather ideas and inspiration from various sources. Here are some great sources to explore.

  • Social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram are fantastic for discovering unique garden ideas and staying up-to-date with the latest trends.

  • Books and gardening magazines can provide valuable inspiration and tips for your project.

  • Visiting local gardens and botanical gardens can give you firsthand experience and ideas for your own garden design.

Don’t be afraid to consult with professional garden designers if you need expert advice or guidance. These experienced professionals can offer invaluable insights and recommendations tailored to your specific outdoor space and garden design goals.

Consider visiting local gardens or public gardens maintained by organisations like the National Trust. These beautiful spaces can provide real-life examples of various garden styles and plant combinations, as well as give you the opportunity to speak with knowledgeable gardeners.

Finally, create a mood board or visual collection of your favourite garden ideas, plants, and accessories. This will help you refine your vision and ensure that your final garden design is cohesive and well-planned. By seeking inspiration and expert advice, you’ll be well-equipped to create your dream garden.


Designing your dream garden is an exciting and rewarding process. By following these 10 easy steps, you’ll be well on your way to creating a stunning and functional outdoor space that reflects your personal style and enhances your well-being. From identifying your garden’s style and purpose to selecting the right plants and accessories, each step is crucial in creating a cohesive and visually appealing garden design.

Now that you have the knowledge and inspiration, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get started on your garden design journey. Remember to be patient, take your time, and enjoy the process. With dedication and creativity, your dream garden will soon become a reality.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you design a garden step by step?

Analyse existing garden space, plan for what you want and need, sketch out initial design, consider main elements of landscape design, familiarise yourself with costs, set a budget for your design, plant for success and consider garden maintenance – these are the 10 steps necessary to effectively design a garden.

Step one is to analyse the existing garden space. This will help you determine what you can and cannot do with the space. Step two is to plan for what you want and need in the garden. This will help you create a design that meets your needs and desires. Step three is to sketch out an initial design. This will help you visualise the garden and make sure it is well-maintained.

What is the golden rule of garden design?

Adhere to the golden rule of proportion when designing your garden, which is a ratio of 1:1.64 – the same ratio as the human body. This will create balance, comfort and a feeling of ‘rightness’ in your space.

The 1:1.64 ratio is a great way to ensure that your garden looks aesthetically pleasing and is comfortable to be in. It will also help to create a sense of harmony and balance in your outdoor space.

How do you plan a garden for beginners?

Planning a garden for beginners can be easy with the right tools and steps: start by deciding how you want to use your garden, take stock of what you have, make a wish list, choose the right plants, draw your garden plan, watch your dream garden come together, and download a free garden design workbook.

Deciding how you want to use your garden is the first step. Consider what you want to grow, how much space you have, and how much time you can devote to gardening. Once you have a plan in mind, take stock of what you have. Look at the space you have available, the soil type, and the amount of sunlight. Make a wish list of plants you would like to grow.

What factors should I consider when choosing a garden style?

When choosing a garden style, think about the overall architecture of your home, what you like best, and how you plan to use your garden space.

Consider the size of your garden, the climate in your area, and the amount of sunlight it receives. Think about the types of plants you want to include, and the colors and textures you want to create.

Take this into account.

How can I maximise space in a small garden?

Maximise small garden space by adding vertical elements like trellises, living walls, and tall plantings, as well as space-saving furniture or accessories.