29 easy garden ideas – simple, low-maintenance updates to transform your outdoor space

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  • A large garden is a huge draw for today’s house hunters – with some prepared to spend tens of thousands of pounds extra on a home just because of one. Yet the heavenly promise of a gorgeous green paradise can all too easily turn into a hell of unfinished jobs, particularly if you don’t live and breathe trowels and bedding plants. If that sounds like you, our easy garden ideas may be just what you need.

    Make your outdoors great. See all our garden ideas

    According to a recent survey of 2,000 people by Blooming Artificial, 85.5 per cent admitted they are simply too busy for the upkeep required on things like flowerbeds and vegetable patches. And 44.5 per cent picked this as the number one hold-up in keeping their garden green.

    There are plenty of ways to give your garden an instant lift without having to call in a gardener for some hard landscaping. We’ve brought together our favourite summer buys, quick tips and easy garden ideas that will spruce up your space. And most can be done in the time it takes to mow the lawn!

    Does your patio need some attention? We have lots of easy patio ideas to consider, like moving things around for a fresh take – could the bench or table and chairs be repositioned? Plant plenty of tubs around the seating area with scented blooms and herbs for you to enjoy.

    If you have a summerhouse or shed, consider giving it a fresh coat of paint for an instant lift. Fences might need a facelift too, so think about colour blocking to add some modern pizzazz to your garden. Alternatively look at using bamboo or reed screening positioned in front of fences to transform the look – these options are eco-friendly too.

    Other projects to consider include an easy water feature, such as a tub, to add the soothing sound of running water without having to go all out and install a pond, or creating an outdoor kitchen. Read on for more of our easy garden ideas…

    Easy garden ideas

    1. Get spring cleaning

    Image credit: Bradstone

    Every garden will benefit from a good tidy up – and it might not take much to take yours from drab to fab. As well as clearing up leaves and rubbish, dig out weeds and any plants that haven’t survived the fros. Neaten the edge of your lawn for a more manicured look, power-wash grimy walls and give everything a sweep. It may be all your need to transform your plot.

    2. Add some colourful plant pots

    Image credit: Joanna Henderson/Future PLC

    A gorgeous garden wouldn’t be complete without some colour and now’s a great time of year to start planning it. Plant up a range of pots with summer-flowering bulbs – or buy some pre-planted containers – and dot them around the space. If you can’t wait a month or two for your bright blooms, make sure the pots you choose are cheery and colourful.

    3. Decorate and accessorise

    Argos monochrome outdoor rug 2

    Image credit: Argos

    Make this the year of your new outdoor living room. Water-resistant rugs, comfy furniture, garden art and mirrors help create a stylish area to relax. Add an electric or gas heater to stay snug and you’ll also get more use out of your new space during spring and autumn.

    4. Swap your slabs

    Bradstone patio slabs with bench

    Image credit: Bradstone

    Think of your paving as the foundation of your scheme and you’ll realise just how much cracked slabs and missing bits can let down your new look. Replacing your paving can make a huge difference to the whole space, so it’s worth taking the opportunity to redesign the area at the same time.

    Bradstone’s website is full of inspiration on the latest garden trends and easy ways to get the look you want.

    5. Invest in some ‘faux-liage’


    Image credit: Blooming Artificial

    Real plants are great but they can also be high maintenance and dependent on the weather. Instead, try few items of fauxliage – in the form of faux topiary, shrubs and long grass. Not only are they more realistic than ever before, they’re a good way to brighten up your garden all year round.

    Imagine a pair of faux boxwood balls either side of a doorway, a blooming bougainvillea on your patio or some luxuriant hanging baskets that never need watering, and you’ll see what we mean.

    Try Blooming Artificial for surprisingly realistic options.

    6. Grow a wildflower garden


    Image credit: Future PLC/Amateur Gardening

    Add corners of living foliage that won’t require constant upkeep, like a single bed of wildflowers penned in with sleepers or stones to stop them from spreading out of control.

    You can either scatter mixed packets of wildflower seeds, or – making life even easier – buy xxxx. To maintain your wildflower patch, you simply need to mow it back once in a while.

    ‘To encourage perennial flowers and grasses to make good root development, it is important to mow the meadow in the first year after sowing,’ advises the RHS website. ‘Cut to a height of 5cm (2in) after about six-to-eight weeks of growth, and repeat every two months throughout the first summer.’

    7. Create a quiet corner

    garden with corner seat

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    Make the focus of your garden on creating a feeling of serenity and wellness. Position a garden bench or furniture set in a secluded corner to allow a space for quiet contemplation, surrounded by a thriving oasis of plants. This example features a pagoda frame, to allow the garden to grow above the seating for a fully immersive experience.

    8. Make your own hanging basket

    Easy Garden ideas 1

    Image credit: Mark Scott

    If you have an old colander at home, it is perfect for transforming into an eye-catching hanging basket. All you need is a liner, some compost and flowers to plant up and you’re done. A DIY hanging basket is perfect for adding a splash of colour to a small garden that is short on floor space.

    Related: How to plant a hanging basket – transform your garden with this pretty outdoor accessory

    9. Take your old storage solutions outdoors

    easy garden ideas 2

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    An old set of shelves are perfect for creating a budget friendly potting table or your own vertical planter. Be sure to weatherproof your furniture so that will last through winter and summer, why not consider giving it a colourful makeover with a pot of garden furniture paint?

    10. Make a garden seem bigger with a mirror

    11 Patio with mirror small garden ideas David Still

    Image credit: David Still

    If there is a dark, gloomy corner, try transforming it with a weatherproof mirror positioned to create a focal point where there previously wasn’t anything to see but cobwebs. In a small, enclosed garden, it can also create the illusion of space.

    Read more: Garden mirror ideas to flood gardens with a little ray of light

    11. Lay artificial grass

    Easy garden tips 4

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    If you’re itching for a lush green lawn, but don’t have the time to put into keeping it trim and watered, artificial grass is the answer. No longer a taboo, thanks to some super-realistic designs, you won’t be afraid to tell your neighbours what’s got them so green with envy.

    Just make sure to give it a once over with a stiff bristled brush every so often.

    12. Encourage other things to grow with companion plants

    Easy garden tips 5

    Image credit: Jamie Mason

    This handy tip requires a little research before hand. Group plants strategically based on what blooms grow well with others and will help them thrive. For example strong smelling herbs such as thyme grow well next to roses, as the scent deters blackfly.

    13. Embrace garden tech

    Easy garden tips 6

    Image credit: Ti-Media

    If you really can’t be relied on to make sure your plants are regularly watered and fed, it might be time to look into a self-watering plant pot. There is plenty of gardening tech out there to make maintaining your plot of land easier. You can even get an automated wheelbarrow these days!

    14. Overgrow on purpose

    Image credit: Tim Winter

    This is less an easy gardening tip and official permission to lay your pruning sheers down. Leave your mint to spill out of its plant pot, and alpine heather to grow unruly. Sometimes nature is best left to it’s own devices.

    Give daily pruning a rest, and make your neglect a garden feature. Just make sure you keep plants well fed and pick plants that can handle a little tough love.

    15. Plant ‘indestructible’ succulents

    easy garden tips 2

    Image credit: Jamie Mason

    Instead of constantly battling with plants you just can’t seem to keep alive. Consider investing in succulents that can cope without a daily water, and are basically indestructible. But if you fancy something scented, jasmine is surprise plant that can take a lot of battering, but will need a sip of water in dry conditions.

    16. Try this bin liner hack

    If your garden can’t seem to kick its weed habit, forgo toxic weedkillers and time-consuming pruning with this tip. Cover the weed-ridden area of your garden with a bin liner or sheet and weigh it down with rocks. Leave the sheet long enough to deprive the weeds of sunlight, and kill them.

    ‘Even the most novice homeowner can accomplish an exquisite garden  – it doesn’t always have to take hours of time and effort,’ explains a garden guru at BillyOh.com.

    Related:  7 chemical-free weed killers you can make at home yourself

    17. Clean the decks


    Image credit: Colin Poole

    This is the perfect time to spruce up garden decking or paving by giving it a thorough clean. A pressure washer will do the job with very little effort – and the transformation is so satisfying, you’re definitely going to want to Insta the before and after!

    18. Turn your deck into a sitting room

    After 2 outdoor living room SAH June 17 p98 garden makeover

    Image credit: Jamie Mason

    Create a much-needed extra living space by investing in an outdoor sofa. Up the comfort factor with plump cushions, side tables and an outdoor rug, and make the most of the warm weather. It’s one of many decking ideas that are an easy update to your garden.

    19. Cheer up a tired bench


    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    Look to garden seating ideas to make a quick change in your garden. Try moving a garden bench to a new spot and creating a quiet area for rest and relaxation. Dress it up with plenty of cushions and a seat pad and think about sprucing it up with fresh paint if it’s been left untreated for a few years. We love the side table that doubles as a drinks cooler.

    20. Set up a drinks station


    Image credit: Lakeland

    If you’re entertaining outside, serve iced coolers from an easy-to-fill, Kilner-style drinks dispenser set on a wooden crate. It’s also great to have out when the kids are playing in the garden, filled with squash or water so they can help themselves.

    21. Brighten up brickwork

    Give an old garden wall a facelift by planting succulents in its gaps. Add grit to the planting hole, push in the plants and leave to settle. sedums and sempervivums thrive with very little water.

    22. Choose seating that swings


    Image credit: Cox & Cox

    With space for not one but two people to relax into, this hanging chair can be enjoyed indoors and outdoors. It makes a relaxed style statement whatever the weather, especially when you add on-trend faux furs and tufted cushions for extra comfort.

    Buy now: Double indoor/outdoor hanging chair, £725, Cox & Cox

    23. Plant herbs or bulbs in jars and tins


    Image credit: Colin Poole

    Why spend a fortune on planters when you could create a pretty display with recycled jam jars and food tins. Just be careful to sand down any sharp edges for you pot them up. Just remember to place a layer of stones at the base of the jars, and pop holes in the bottom of tins for drainage.

    24. Paint the shed


    A pretty potting shed or smart summerhouse can be the focal point of any garden, but a shabby one can really spoil the view. Cheer up an outhouse with a fresh lick of exterior paint – we’d choose a sage green, deep blue or charcoal grey.

    25. Tidy up the lawn with hidden edging


    Image credit: Brent Darby

    A neat edge will keep your garden looking tidy. Moulded plastic edging, hidden in the earth keeps grass and weeds away from your beds and brick or stone edging help to frame your lawn – it’s available at all good DIY stores and garden centres. Your friends will wonder how you did it!

    26. Create a cooking corner


    Image credit: Simon Whitmore

    If you love entertaining an outdoor barbecue area is a must and doesn’t have to be expensive. A built-in brick bbq looks professional and blends into the surroundings well. Bring the feel of the kitchen outside by fixing utensil shelves and spice racks to a wall.

    27. Treat fences to a new look


    Image credit: Alun Callender

    A garden fence is a fantastic blank canvas for you to express your creativity. For a contemporary look, paint strips in complementary colours. Not only will you be adding valuable protection, you’ll be making an artistic statement.

    There’s plenty for where that came from! Garden fence ideas to inspire you to create a garden you’ll love

    28. Throw some shade

    garden paint ideas

    Image credit: Jonathan D Jones

    Make the most of hot summer days and create a shady corner in which to sit and relax. A simple awning like this one is easy to create – you could recycle on old sail or even sheets.

    29. Build your own benches

    suburban side garden with firepit

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    Here’s how: How to make pallet garden furniture – a step-by-step guide

    If you’re really into DIY, why not create your own outdoor seating area using roofing battens or decking planks? You could even make the hinged so that the whole unit doubles as garden storage for tools, or outdoor cushions. Continue the theme by building your own brick fire pit, allowing you to enjoy your garden late into the evening.

    What are the easiest plants to grow in a garden?

    Growing fruit and veg from seed is much easier than you might think. Just pop a few seeds into some seed trays or pots filled with compost, leave then in a propagator or greenhouse, and water then regularly. Then in Spring, when there’s no more frost, you can plant them in the garden!

    Some simple varieties to try are:

    1. Chillies and tomatoes

    Your seeds can be started off inside in March and April. Your plants will be ready to go outside in a sheltered, sunny spot from May.

    2. Potatoes

    Buy seed potatoes – small potato tubers that are certified disease free – rather than use your leftover old potatoes! Start by ‘chitting’ them in February or March. This means letting then grow shoots by placing them in trays or egg cartons and standing them in a cool, light spot. Once the shoots are a couple of cams long, pop them in a mix of soil, organic matter and fertiliser in a sunny place. Water regularly, and you’ll be able to harvest your potatoes in 10-12 weeks.

    3. Runner Beans

    Sow these straight in the ground outside as soon as the soil warms up. Use canes to support them as they grow.

    As you can see, you don’t have to splash the cash to get the garden of your dreams.

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