Need a little #gardeninspo? Read along for 9 creative ways to add personality, flair, and interest to your garden. These ideas will help to elevate the appearance of your yard, and perhaps more importantly, how it feels to be in it!
Close your eyes and picture a lush garden at sundown. As the last rays of sun kiss the colorful plants, flickering tiki torches start to illuminate one-by-one as a water fountain babbles softly nearby. Gardens can be downright magical. Along with bountiful food, flowers, habitat, and beauty, they’re capable of providing immense joy and peace – especially if you make a little effort to enhance your space beyond the basics! It’s time to create your own paradise at home.
I should probably mention that I’m not a professional landscape designer, but our gardens always have ample style and beauty! Also, the tips we’ll explore today can be applied to any size garden. You’ll see plenty of photos of both modest and large spaces below. We spent many years curating the gardens at our old ⅕ acre urban homestead; it was overflowing with charm by the time we moved away! We’re still working on weaving the whimsy into our big brand new garden… slowly but surely.
HOW TO ADD INTEREST TO YOUR GARDEN
1) Mix Textures, Materials & Shapes
Use a variety of plant textures, ground cover and hardscaping materials to create balance in your garden. For instance, I like to incorporate curved lines, round stones, large boulders, tree stumps or interesting branches, potted plants and wine barrel planters into our landscape to soften the space and offset the hard angles created by our rectangular raised garden beds and pavers. I also find using a combination of gravel and bark or wood chips (nearby, but not together) creates a nice blend of rustic and modern. Visit your local bulk landscape supply company to see what materials they offer.
Play with height and add interest to your garden by mixing a combination of raised beds and in-ground planting areas. You could even arrange your garden beds in an interesting pattern, such as a U-shape or herringbone layout. Raised planting spaces don’t have to be traditional wood garden beds either! We’ve created terraces and large elevated perennial planter beds using stone blocks (shown below). Galvanized steel raised beds also add a unique flair. See this article for more ideas about alternative raised garden bed materials.
In perennial landscapes, mix plants with various heights, leaf size or structure, and bloom times. Add flowy plants like native ornamental grasses or ferns to balance the more structured ones. On the flip side, we like to incorporate stately cacti and agave to complement all of our other softer plantings. Trees create the most majestic vibes of them all. Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment! You can always change plants later.
2) Play with Color
In addition to plants and flowers, there are plenty of other ways to add pops of color to your garden. Incorporate colorful ceramic pots, yard art, outdoor pillows and patio furniture, shade umbrellas, or an outdoor rug. Heck, you could even paint your fence or arbors! Black fences and arbors have been especially trendy lately.
Hardscaping materials like flagstone or gravel can make a color statement too. In our old garden, we used stunning pastel-colored cobblestones that looked gorgeous against the blue-green gravel. Yet the materials in our new garden are a bit more rustic and natural. I love both for different reasons!
Decide if you want to stick with a particular limited color scheme, or mix and match many colors for an extra playful space. For example, we grow annual flowers in every color of the rainbow, but I usually choose purple, pink and yellow flowers in our perennial landscape. I also tend to be drawn to blue, green or purple pots, pillows and other accents.
3) Light it Up
Solar lights are one of my favorite ways to add interest to the garden! Come evening time, our outdoor spaces feel downright magical. We use a combination of solar pathway lights and awesome flickering solar tiki torches (they look like real flames!) that have held up wonderfully over the years. Our arched trellises are adorned with solar fairy string lights, which we’ve also strung along fences and around garden beds over the years. Overhead bistro lights are always fun, and add even more functional bright light for entertaining.
And of course, don’t forget a fire pit! In addition to light, fire pits provide warmth and cozy ambience. We absolutely love our low-profile round gas fire pit, perfect for kicking your feet up to warm by the fire. Other ways to add mood lighting in the garden include tabletop lanterns, citronella candles, or landscape spotlights under trees. I absolutely love the way they light up our oak canopy! See more details below.
Tip: Did you know that you can change the batteries in many solar lights? If the lights start to look weak or stop working, simply swap out the batteries with new rechargeable solar batteries. Also, you can turn them on and off to conserve battery life – rather than leaving them on all night long.
4) Adorn with Art
Add personality, flair, and interest to your garden with outdoor art. Adorn the space with metal sculptures, statues, a cute sign, garden flags, murals, or other artistic accents that suit your style. Pop in an old wagon wheel, a few little mushrooms or gnomes if that tickles your fancy! Get crafty and make your own art, or look around your local garden centers. I’ve also seen some creative flower beds made from old clawfoot bathtubs or wheelbarrows.
Gardener’s Supply Co has some really cute yard and garden decor options – including metal sculptures, weathervanes, wind spinners, statues and more. Don’t forget to add a pretty hummingbird feeder for our little friends!
We have a variety of decorative metal flowers, birds, leaves, suns, and butterflies throughout our garden space, along with a few fun windmills and this adorable rustic steel hummingbird. Our old homestead was dubbed “the beach jungalow”, so I created a sun mural out of sand dollars. I also found a fun “garden” sign at our local nursery, and then customized it with small copper tubing to create the shape of a rising sun. We also made a rad insect hotel (which is honestly serving more as an art piece than functional bug hotel at this point. Lol.)
5) Define Borders & Pathways
Define your space by accenting borders or transition areas with edging, decorative rocks, pavers, logs, attractive fences, arbors, arches, low-growing shrubs, or other materials. This could include the edges of a pathway, around an in-ground flower bed, a central patio area, the perimeter of the entire garden, or a statement at the entrance to the space. Adding a few stepping stones between garden beds makes the space look far more interesting and complete. It’s amazing what a big difference a few details can make!
6) Grow Vertical
One awesome way to add interest to your garden is to grow UP. Use vertical trellises, arches, or arbors to create dimension – and increase your usable growing space! In the veggie garden, things like pole beans, peas, vining squash and cucumbers all love to climb. Passionfruit and kiwi are two vining perennial fruits. Other beautiful ornamental plants well-suited for climbing include jasmine, wisteria, bower vines, trumpet vines, black eyed susan, or trailing roses.
There are also some really awesome vertical garden towers (not just for trailing plants) that are perfect for small or urban spaces. Finally, don’t forget about hanging baskets – especially around your porch or patio garden!
Need some trellis inspo? Check out our step-by-step tutorial on how to create an inexpensive DIY (flat) trellis. As far as arched trellises go, we found ours at a local nursery – but I know many folks make similar ones out of cattle or hog panel too! Or, check out these beautiful arches and arbors from Gardener’s Supply. I especially love their rounded “moon gate” or modern Gracie ones.
7) Water Features
No yard or garden space is complete without a water feature, IMHO. Water features can provide flowing movement, soothing sounds, and also offer an important lifeline to wildlife and pollinators! A water feature can be as simple as a birdbath, as stately as a fountain, or as elaborate as a pond and waterfall. In deeper fountains or bird baths, add a few large stones for bees, small birds, or lizards to safely perch on.
We’ve found all of our water features at local nurseries, though I do love the look of this highly-rated ceramic bird bath and this beautiful cascading lotus fountain. You can also get crafty and create your own small pond in a wine barrel, galvanized metal tub/trough, or a pot that doesn’t have a drainage hole. Add a basic pump and turn it into a fountain!
If you’re concerned about mosquitoes, keep in mind that they need standing water to breed in – and 10 to 14 days to complete their life cycle. So, a running fountain is not a concern! Refresh your bird bath water at least once a week to avoid long-standing stagnant water. In larger ponds, consider adding a handful of mosquito fish to keep them away.
8) Music to My Ears
Sometimes the sounds of birds chirping and leaves rustling in the breeze is all you need. Yet other noises can add pleasure and interest to your garden too! (Especially if you live near a busy road or highway like we do.) We’ve already covered a popular option in the water feature section above; the sound of trickling water from a fountain is oh-so-calming! I also love the sounds of deep melodic wind chimes and rain chains.
Tip: If your fountain is too noisy, try reducing the water flow with one of these handy tube clamps. It made our new fountain sound so much more peaceful.
More often than not, we also play music while we’re out in the garden! We simply grab our favorite wireless “Move” Sonos speaker to bring out to the patio with us, plus open the back windows. The Move is all synced up with our home Sonos speaker system via WiFi, but is also bluetooth compatible. This Bose bluetooth speaker is also highly portable and well-rated by fellow audiophiles. If you’re looking for some new tunes, be sure to check out our music playlists here. We love reggae, blues, folk, indie, alternative, and everything in between!
9) Places to Relax
Last but not least, add personality and interest to your garden with seating areas – perhaps enough to entertain! Arrange lounge chairs around a fire pit, or set up an outdoor dining space with tables and chairs. Even the most petite gardens need a bench or small bistro set! In addition to providing function and comfort, seating areas can add a lot of style to your garden too.
Elevate seating areas with pavers or flagstone, bistro lights, or even a pergola overhead! Decorate with outdoor pillows, table lanterns, citronella candles, shade umbrellas, or other accents to match your vibe. After you’ve gone through all these lengths to create such a beautiful space, it’s time to sit back, relax, and soak it all in.
And that is how you add interest to your garden!
Well friends, I hope this article gave you plenty of ideas and inspiration to spice up your outdoor space. Remember, it took us years to get our old homestead looking as whimsical as it did, so be patient! Good things take time. (This is also me telling myself this as I compare our old garden to our new one… it feels so naked! 😭 I can’t wait for all the plant life to fill in.) Are there any other fun and quirky ways you like to add flair to your garden? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below. Now go have fun creating your own paradise at home!
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