25 incredible garden design ideas

Your ultimate catalogue of outdoor inspiration.
Backyard with deck and hanging egg chair

No matter the size, layout or conditions of your outdoor space, with a little hard work and strategic thinking, you can turn it onto a lush haven. From breezy, vine-clad pergolas to lush green thickets, here is our ultimate garden guide filled with 25 top tips to help inspire your own country or city oasis.

1. Green print

Allow your area to grow with you by future- proofing your outdoor design plan. “Boost the longevity of your garden by considering how and who will be using the space, and what that could look like in five to 10 years,” says Matt Leacy, director and founder of award-winning Sydney landscaping company Landart.

2. Refined elegance

Less is more when making a statement in a small space, as seen in this design by Richards Stanisich. “The key is to simplify while still creating that ‘wow’ factor,” says Matt. “Focus on what you want the area to achieve. If it is entertaining, invest in a sophisticated outdoor dining set – or for a plant focus, a striking oversized feature pot.”

(Photography: Abbie Melle)

3. Outside in

Focus inward and create a stunning outdoor space that seamlessly connects to the rest of the home. “Draw the eye outside with warm, inviting lighting, and blur the boundaries of the garden with a consistency of indoor and outdoor planting,” says Landart’s Matt. Try downlighting to highlight the entertaining area and get a soft, welcoming focus.

4. Tile files

Smart underfooting can be just as important for setting the tone of an area as the table placements on top. “Try large porcelain tiles for a durable and versatile flooring option,” says Mark Curtis, design consultant at Secret Gardens. “Many of the ranges on the market offer indoor tiles with a tailored external version for outside with more grip.”

(Photographer: Shania Shegedyn)

5. On the green

The humble green lawn need not be dull and uninspiring. It can even add an opulent touch to an overlooked space. “For a smaller, soft blade alternative to the popular Buffalo grass, the Sir Grange Zoysia grass elevates your turf’s aesthetic appeal, adding a luxurious finish to your lawn area,” says Mark.

6. Decked out

Gone are the days of high-maintenance decking. Seek natural finishes and go back to basics with rustic, organic timber. “The weathered silver-timber look is a huge trend right now,” says Matt. “Not only is it a great low-maintenance solution, because you don’t have to oil it every six months. It also creates a stunning soft, organic feel.”

(Photography: Abbie Melle)

7. Step by step

Lead the way and plan a striking design feature with luxe paved stepping stones that draw the eye to hero pieces while linking your outdoor zones. “Add greenery to bring balance into a more structured courtyard,” says Katrina O’Brien, former managing editor of Home Beautiful. “Try adding a vertical garden alongside low-lying shrubs.”

8. Hit refresh

A fresh coat of paint and new fixtures go a long way to making a good impression at the front gate. Breathe new life into a tired fence or entranceway with a simple refresh.

For a classic exterior, try Natural White paint from Dulux – or to complement a modern aesthetic, opt for cool whites with blue or grey undertones, such as Dulux Casper White.

(Photography: John Downs)

9. Quiet corner

Make the most of that awkward space and create a cosy retreat. “Hanging chairs are a great way to get a sanctuary in a small space,” says Katrina. “And the best thing is they can be removed when the space is needed to entertain a crowd.” Bring this look home with a ‘Coco’ hanging chair from Byron Bay Hanging Chairs.

10. Level up

Gain the illusion of a larger space by using levels to zone the area. “Layering helps to capture the eye and generates interest,” says Grant Smitten, founder of Macedon Ranges Garden Services. “Play with lighting to create dimension and highlight your garden’s hero features.”

(Photography: Annette O’Brien)

11. Green screen

Make your plants work harder for you by using lush climbing foliage as a subtle privacy wall against unsightly boundary lines and fences. “Try tall, textured fruit trees to create a privacy screen against neighbours, and as a natural wind break,” says Ben Shaw, founder of Ben Shaw Permaculture. Passionfruit vines are always a favourite.

12. Crowd favourites

Marry form and function with a durable outdoor dining set. A non-fixed, lightweight one is always favourable for versatility and longevity, then up the luxe factor with soft, comfy accessories.

“The aim of outdoor furniture is that it should accommodate guests to spend longer outside,” says Secret Gardens’ Mark. “Lightweight furniture is becoming an increasingly popular choice for its functionality.”

Coastal outdoor dining area with curved furniture

(Credit: The Palm Co)

13. Sun block

From parasols and awnings to pergolas, there’s a plethora of shade solutions to help you dial down the heat. For a touch of the tropics, add free-standing umbrellas and achieve a resort-inspired feel. For a more permanent, fuss-free fixture, try fabric awnings (Wynstan has a range) as a retractable shade alternative.

“Make sure you consider the current architecture of the home so that the design integrates seamlessly with the existing exterior,” says Mark.

14. Private property

Screening walls need not lack inspiration. Push the limits and transform your boundary line into a design feature with a charming pergola or sculptural trellis. “It’s all about exciting the eye and giving this area more architectural detail and consideration,” says Mark. “This way you’re not only disguising the fact that you have reached the end of the property, but you are giving the space a new life.”

Photographer: John Downs

15. Blind spot

Indulge in outdoor entertaining all year round, with weather-durable blinds to enclose the space and create an intimate setting.

“There is nothing more luxe than eating outdoors in the cooler months as well as spring and summer,” says HB’s Katrina. “In addition to outdoor heating, layer up your outdoor dining space with soft textures and plenty of rugs to nab café style.” Winter-proof your outdoor entertaining area with Luxaflex Roller Blinds.

16. Natural connection

Think outside the box when working with the luxury of a protected outdoor shelter. Blend effortless sophistication and classic good looks through the use of soft, dreamy furnishings.

“Always try to continue the look of your inside spaces outdoors, for a strong, cohesive decorating scheme,” says Katrina. “However, opt for hardier covers such as those from Sunbrella to make your outdoor cushions last that extra bit longer.”

Alfresco outdoor dining with barbeque and white table.

(Credit: Photography: Simon Whitbread / Styling: Corina Koch)

17. Take a seat

A retaining wall need not be merely a structural design element. Rather, it can transform your hardworking spaces into a multifunctional seating spot, with the addition of a sleek outdoor bench.

“Built-in furniture can be a great way to maximise your space and really define an area,” says Landart’s Matt. Soften the sharp lines of your retaining wall by adding a plush throw and complementary cushions, and you have a welcoming place to pause and unwind.

18. Bright spark

Be inspired by your surroundings and let your plant choices lead the way when injecting colour and picking your palette.

“We’re seeing a huge demand for perennials such as salvias and agastache, which add a vibrant burst of colour for spring,” says Macedon Ranges Garden Services’ Grant.

View of purple flowering plants in front of a white picket fence.

(Credit: Photographer: Jody D’Arcy | Styling: Jo Carmichael)

19. Raw talent

Nothing whispers laid-back luxury like repurposing an existing structure to create a rustic inspired hideaway.

“For that organic, rustic style, look at upcycling materials such as railway sleepers or breathing new life into existing foundations,” says Grant.

20. Three’s company

Potted plants have the ability to transform any lustreless space. “Try to mix and match the shapes in arrangements of odd numbers, if space permits,” says Secret Gardens’ Mark.

Small coastal balcony with dining table and cluster of three pots filled with succulents.

(Credit: Photographer: Simon Whitbread | Styling: Jessica Bellef)

21. Hidden gems

Turn second-hand treasures into decorative tools with inspiring results. “It’s about upcycling and using what you have,” says Lottie Dalziel, founder of sustainability hub Banish.

“Nothing looks better than flowers flowing out of an old wheelbarrow. Not only does it add personality, it’s also great for the environment.”

22. Patch of heaven

There’s something instinctual about living off the land and reaping the rewards of an edible garden. However, a vegetable patch isn’t always at the forefront of landscape design.

“A veggie patch doesn’t have to be ugly – it can actually be quiet beautiful and a powerful design feature,” says Ben Shaw. “Having a good diversity of plants really boosts the aesthetic, so you are harvesting throughout the year.” This means you aren’t left with an empty garden bed between harvests.

(Photographer: Annette O’Brien)

23. Colour pop

Bring the inspiration outdoors by injecting a touch of colour to make an easy outside style statement. “Just as it does inside, colour can transform an outdoor room,” says Katrina.

“Use it sparingly on a wall to zone a space, and try unexpected hues for an extra dose of happiness. Just make sure a lighter colour is well maintained.” Steal this vibrant look with Pink Dust from Dulux and pare it back with muted greys. For a more subtle look, try Italian Clay from Dulux.

24. Pave the way

Gaining ground in the outdoor landscaping space, paving is no longer an aesthetic afterthought. “The key is to design well in the first place, to reduce the amount of maintenance,’ says Ben. “A good path and border should suppress weeds.”

25. Brick by brick

Nothing says coastal cool like a mid-century-inspired breeze block such as Austral Masonry’s ‘Diamond Breeze’ blocks.

This chic feature wall is just the solution for turning a privacy screen into a bold design statement. “Breeze blocks offer both function and form,” says HB’s Elle. “They make for wonderful screening and bring that instant ‘Palm Springs cool’ look to any outdoor space.”

(Photographer: Derek Swalwell)

Related stories