An Illustrated A-Z Of Landscaping Ideas

An Illustrated A-Z Of Landscaping Ideas

Paul Baker’s illustrated A-Z of Landscaping Ideas.  Which is your favourite?

Clients often ask me for landscaping ideas, and trust me I have plenty of them to share.  Here’s my illustrated A-Z of landscaping ideas – what could you add to it?

A is For Arbour

An arbour is a lovely secluded seating area surrounded by plants.  I really enjoy building these and if time allows, you might find me sitting in an arbour chatting on the phone to clients or suppliers.

arbour seat with trellised sides and porcelain paved floor

A secluded garden about with plants just beginning to climb up the trellis

B is For Balustrade

Did you think I was going to say beds and borders for ‘B’?  Balustrades are too important to ignore.  They are, of course, a safety feature for raised decks or podium gardens. But balustrades can be very stylish too.

smart balustrade

A smart modern balustrade which compliments the materials used for landscaping this garden

C is For Cladding

Cladding is a great way to disguise an ‘unfortunate looking’ feature or to decorate any vertical surface.  The visitor centre at RHS Garden Bridgewater has an attractive timber cladding.  This could be used in a domestic situation – perhaps for a garden shelter. Or you could use porcelain cladding instead.  It’s ideal for water features, retaining walls and outdoor kitchens.

stock image of RHS Bridgwater visitor centre

D is For Dry Garden

Most of our work is in East Anglia which is said to be the driest part of the UK.  Dry gardens allow us to use plants that can thrive without rainfall.  They look very different to the blowsy flower borders so often associated with this country. But that’s what makes them more interesting.

D is for dry garden in the A-Z of landscaping

E is For Edging

I’m a stickler for neatness. I hate to see gravel encroaching into flower beds or lawns with raggedy edges.  Metal edging is always a winner for me, especially in modern gardens where geometric shapes and clean lines are an intrinsic part of the design.

metal edging being installed in a rectangular shape as part of a victorian style garden makeover

F is For Fernery

I’ve not been lucky enough to build one yet but I love the colours and textures of these beautiful plants.  I’d especially like to create a stumpery where uprooted tree stumps are set amongst swathes of ferns and other shade loving plants.  There’s a beautiful one on the Ickworth Estate.  Go take a look at it if you can.  

beautiful outdoor fern with delicate fronds

G is For Green Roof

Green roofs are becoming more mainstream in construction because of their environmental benefits. But they are great for garden features too.  One of my favourite landscaping ideas is a timber log store topped with a wildflower green roof.  If you don’t use logs – pop a seat in it and use it as an outdoor reading room. This bike shed in London is a good example of a green roof.

green roof bike shed pic from Harrowden Turf

H is For Herb Garden

Anyone who knows me well can attest to my love of outdoor cooking. And what’s the perfect addition to any meal? Fresh herbs.  Even a small herb garden can supply you with a surprising amount of rosemary, sage, thyme, mint and curry leaves to flavour your food and drinks.

herb garden with unusual layout

I is For Irrigation

Irrigation is becoming a must for anyone who wants to keep their garden alive through a hot dry summer. Use it in conjunction with an app so that you can water your garden even when you’re on holiday.

strawberry plant growing beside drip irrigation system

J is For Joists

OK so the number of landscaping ideas starting with the letter J is – well – minimal.  Joists are what hold up structures such as decking.  In some projects they are visible, so they need to be attractive as well as functional.  A bit like the joints for this walkway near Great Barton.  

underside of decking project with steel support legs

K is For Kitchen

Of all the landscaping ideas in all the world this is my favourite.  Outdoor kitchens. Can’t beat them!

k is for kitchen in the a-z of landscaping ideas

L is For Lighting

In my view, every garden needs lighting.  It makes you feel safer as you negotiate your driveway or garden after dark.  If you spending time outdoors, lighting extends the amount of time you can linger in the garden on a summer evening.  And in winter, even if you don’t feel like going outside, clever lighting means you can still enjoy the garden through the window.

water feature with garden lighting

M is For Meadow Planting

If you want a bit more colour in your life, why not consider an area of meadow planting?  Native perennial wildflower meadows make wonderful wildlife habitat and you can mow paths through them to help you get closer to nature.  Alternatively, a sprinkling of annual flower seeds sown into  an empty border in spring will burst into bloom by summer.

mixed wildflowers a colourful plant cobination

N is For Natural Stone

Call me old fashioned, but I’d choose natural stone paving over porcelain any day of the week.  Porcelain can be stylish, but it can be challenging to work with.  I have a feeling that porcelain paving is a passing trend. I’m sure that Natural stone will be back on wish list of landscaping ideas well before I reach retirement age.

natural stone patio in a back garden

Look how beautifully this natural stone patio has settled into its surroundings. It’s barely two months old but it looks as though its been there forever.

O is For Ornamental Grasses

Did you think I was going to choose Outdoor Dining for the letter ‘O’ in my a-z of landscaping ideas? I nearly did, but in the end, ornamental grasses won.  Such a versatile group of plants.  They look good all year round, are fuss-free and can be used in so many situations.  I like to use taller ones for screening and shorter ones to add texture to planted borders.

ornamental grasses with asters

Ornamental grasses look fabulous when combined with herbaceous perennials.

P is For Privacy Screens

When you’re looking for landscaping ideas, one good trick is to divide the space up into smaller ‘rooms’ or ‘zones’ by using privacy screens.  They’re also pretty useful when a garden is overlooked or if the view beyond the fence lacks inspiration.  Depending on the situation you could use bespoke metal screens, timber screens, tall plants or pleached trees.

metal garden screen with laser cut leaf pattern

Q is For Quick Tidy Up

Am I cheating by using ‘Quick Tidy Up’ in a list of landscaping ideas?  Seriously though, it doesn’t take long to put the children’s toys away, sweep the patio, weed the borders and remove the rubbish. And when you do a quick tidy up, it can make the garden feel like new.  At Holland Landscapes we offer a garden refresh service for folks who feel overwhelmed at the thought of making huge changes to their plot.  Call us for more details.

before and after garden refresh and patio cleaning

R is For Rain Garden

Rain gardens are a brilliant idea for Waterwise gardeners.  They’re not all jungly and steamy like rain forests. Rain gardens are a sustainable way of capturing the water that falls onto sheds, patios, driveways etc and using it to support plants and wildlife habitat.  Read about rain gardens in our article.  

rain garden with gravel beds and tolerant planting. sited in a car park at M6 service station

Beautifully designed rain garden in the car park of a motorway service centre.

S is For Stepping Stones

Stepping stones need no introduction from me.  They’re a great addition to a lawn that is prone to compaction.  And they also add interest to water features.

glorious pond with stepping stones across it

T is For Timer

Timer? I hear you say – what’s that got to do with landscaping ideas?  Well, I love my gadgets and if I can find use a gadget or an app to make life easier I will.  

Timers are great for lighting and for irrigation.  Imagine being able to go away for the weekend and know that your tomatoes will be watered while you’re gone.  

Or what about being able to irrigate your newly laid turf at night so that less water is lost to evaporation.  

How about using a timer to turn off the heater for your hot tub after a set period of time.  Imagine how that could help control your energy costs. What joy!  

Timers are relatively low cost and they’re easy to install, I’d encourage anyone to use them.

timer for garden lighting system

This LightSymphony device from LandscapePlus can be controlled via a smartphone or by smart home devices such as Alexa. It really does make life much simpler.

U is For Under Deck Storage

If you have a raised decking area, why not make use of the space underneath to store some of the bits and pieces that often clutter up a garden? It’s the ideal place to hide empty plant pots, half-used bags of compost, the hose reel etc etc etc.  Ask your landscaper if it’s possible to create storage space without compromising the decking structure.

Garden storage box made from high quality timber

I don’t have a picture of an under decking storage box, but I’m hoping that this image will inspire you anyway.  Beautiful garden feature that’s just right for stashing folding chairs, cushions and other bits and bobs.

V is For Vertical Gardening

Here I go again with my eco friendly landscaping ideas.  I love the idea of squeezing as many plants into a garden as I possibly can. And what’s wrong with using walls and fences to support upright gardens?  Seriously, if you set them up correctly they’re really easy to care for. You can even use a timer to control the irrigation (see T is for Timers).  Use vertical gardens (also known as green walls) to cultivate salads, strawberries or ornamental plants. 

W is For Water Features

Water features have been adorning our gardens for centuries.  Everything from bubblers to full on wildlife ponds.  I’m a big fan of being able to hear water in a garden and as a Dad to two young children, I’ve done lots of research on keeping water features safe for the whole family.

pebbles and shingle clearly visible beneath the water of a new pond

X is For Xeriscaping

Xeriscaping is the art of building gardens in really dry areas.  Beth Chatto – one of the most inspirational garden designers of our time – has harnessed the art of Xeriscaping in her garden in Essex.  Another place that’s worth a visit when you get the opportunity. 

A xeriscape planting scheme for a dry garden

A wonderful xeriscape that would work well in a UK garden with dry soil.  You could also incorporate succulents and maybe even cacti depending on the microclimate where you live.

Y is For Yellow Garden Border

yellow garden border


Yes, I was a bit stuck for ideas for ‘Y’ too – and then I found this image of a really beautiful border using yellow and orange plants.  We often hear celebrity gardeners talking about white borders, or blue borders, or even jewel coloured borders, but what about yellow?  It’s bright, it’s cheery and there are hundreds of plant species that you could use to create a splash of bling in your garden.  If you’d like to recreate this look in your own garden, here is an article listing 60 plants with yellow flowers.

Z is For Zen Garden

A Zen garden is typically very peaceful.  It may include large rocks, gravel and aggregates, specimen trees and a water feature.  However, your zen garden should be all about whatever makes you feel calm and relaxed. Talk to the garden designers at Tapestry Design Studios to help pull your ideas into a tangible garden design.

zen garden with dark coloured aggregate to represent water and lots of moss, ferns and boulders.

That’s it.  That’s my A-Z of landscaping ideas. There were dozens of other ideas in my brain and it took me ages to simplify the list.  What would you have included?

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