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Creative Garden Ideas

Are you looking to spruce up your garden with some creative ideas? From adding a touch of whimsy to transforming a neglected flowerbed into a beautiful oasis, there are so many ways to make your garden unique. It doesn’t matter if you have a large garden or a small garden, you can take some of these creative gardening ideas and reuse them in your own home garden.

Whether you are a master gardener or a beginner, there are plenty of ideas here to inspire you and get your creative juices flowing. Read on for some of the most creative garden ideas that will take your outdoor space to the next level.

A colorful flower garden with a bird house.

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What is your Garden Style?

First of all, let’s determine what your gardening style is if you don’t already know. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you like a garden that is very simple with much of the focus on a Zen-like atmosphere that includes modern water features, rock and ornamental bridges? This is a Japanese gardens style.
  • What about a formal style with symmetrical garden design, including neatly trimmed hedges and geometric shapes that often features a focal point like a large statute or fountain?
  • Do you like informal garden layouts with a variety of flowers in lots of different colors? This gardening style is referred to as a cottage garden style. Most of my gardens fall into this category.
  • A wildflower meadow style that focuses on creating a natural meadow or prairie-like garden for creating a habitat for pollinators.
  • Or, maybe you just like a little bit of everything and your style is more eclectic.

For the purposes of this article, our creative ideas will focus mostly on cottage, eclectic and wildflower gardens.

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Creative Ideas for a Flower Garden

If you have followed Gingham Gardens for any length of time, you will know that I love using upcycled vintage junk to add character to my informal flower gardens. Although your flowers should command the show, you can also add visual interest to your gardens with art. In other words, give the eyes something to land on in the garden, and take a break from the plants.

Water Features

A water feature not only adds visual interest to a garden, it can also add a tranquil and soothing environment to your gardens. Plus, the sound of trickling water adds to the overall sensory experience of your backyard space. We turned an old vintage pump into a water fountain planter.

Vintage red water pump in a planter of red flowers.

At our former home, we had a small pond. It was a lot of work in the spring and we ended up removing it before we listed the house for sale. I still think about adding some type of water feature to our current gardens.

Water pump water feature in a flower garden.

Add a seating area where you or your visitors can take a break and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. My garden bench in the shade is the perfect place to sit and take a break.

Garden bench in a shade garden.

Garden Sheds

In recent years, “she-sheds” have been all the rage, and gardeners and non-gardeners alike want one. With a little creativity, an ugly old garden shed or any outbuilding can be made into a cute outdoor area. Adding a flower bed around the perimeter is a great option for bringing new life to the space and turning the unsightly shed into a quaint-looking site. If your old shed has a window, consider adding a window box full of colorful flowers.

I snapped the picture below, many, many years ago, when I was on a garden tour, so I don’t recall the owner of the beautiful window box.

Window box filled with flowers.

I’ve always wanted to demolish this old garden shed, because I have a ridiculous phobia of certain little creatures that have decided it’s a great place to live. Instead of getting rid of it, I make the best of it and decorate the outside.

Outside of a garden shed with a bench and plants.

Garden Paths

I love the look and functionality of a garden path. Whether constructed from flagstones, stepping stones, gravel, wood planks or even just a mulched pathway, paths serve to create a meandering walkway throughout your gardens. A good garden path can add a ton of character to your flower gardens.

Remember when constructing a pathway to not create trip hazards, especially if you are using stones or wooden planks. Also, be sure to add in design elements, such as curves or changes in elevation to create a sense of movement. You can add even more character to your garden path by lining it with fieldstones, logs or other natural materials. Plants can also be used to define the edge of the garden path.

A pea gravel path lined with field stone through a garden.

Garden Statues

A garden sculpture worked in amongst flowers can act to compliment your garden space, without overwhelming it. This can be a more formal statute like a St. Francis of Assisi garden statute, or a grouping of whimsical bunnies like the picture below.

Mom and two baby bunny statues in a flower garden.

Sweet Sophie has had a place in my gardens for many years. Her apron can be filled with bird seed or water.

Girl garden statue with pink astilbe.

Ideas of Things to use as a focal point in your flower garden:

Birdhouses serve a dual purpose in gardens. Not only are they a fun way to add whimsy and charm, but they also create a home for our feathered friends.

Birdhouse in a flower garden.

Bird baths are likewise used in the same manner. The bright color of this cobalt blue birdbath looks stunning anywhere I place it in the gardens. If you use a birdbath in your garden, be sure to clean it on a regular basis.

Cobalt blue birdbath in a flower garden.

Have Something You Want to Hide

Do you have an area you want to hide, like utilities, an air conditioner, or an area with junk, etc? We used a lattice panel, cut it down to size and then framed it out. On the back we attached fence stakes with screws so we could drive it into the ground and it would stand straight. Its a cute way to hide our gas meter.

If you’re trying to cover utilities, be sure meters and such are read electronically. Also be sure to call 811 to have utility lines marked before you dig. Love these solar lights.

Lattice panel with a welcome sign and lights in a garden setting.

Whimsical Garden Ideas

Fairy Gardens are a great way to involve children in adding creative garden ideas to your outdoor space. You and your children or grandchildren can let your creative imaginations go wild when creating a fairy garden. 

Fairy Garden in 3 containers.

I prefer miniature gnomes over fairies. 

Gnomes in a shade garden.

My favorite garden decorations are garden vignettes – groupings of anything you want to use that cause the eyes to stop and take it all in. Or, little surprises tucked in amongst your plants.

2 gnomes and a mushroom in a shade garden.

Garden signs are a fantastic way to add whimsy to your gardens. We love garden signs so much that we have an entire post dedicated to them.

Vintage wood tool box planted with flowers and a garden sign.

Flower Containers as Creative Touches in the Garden

Container gardens are one of the easiest ways to add creativity to your flower beds. Use creative containers such as teapots, or galvanized buckets to create unique container gardens that can be moved around. As the summer months wane, you may find areas that need an additional pop of colorful flowers and that’s where plant pots can fill the void. We have lots and lots of ideas in the posts linked above for creative container gardens.

Planters with coleus and caladium amongst hostas in a shade garden

A pretty porch rail planter filled with colorful flowers can turn an otherwise boring porch into a welcoming entrance to your home.

Porch rail planter filled with colorful flowers.

Window Boxes

Window boxes can add so much character to an otherwise plain looking home. I knew from the first day I saw our house, that it needed a window box and shutters to add some curb appeal. This window box has become one of my favorite containers to plant every spring. It also gets a redo as the seasons change.

A window box on a gray house with red geraniums, trailing white verbena and ivy.

Creative Ways to Add Character to a Vegetable Garden

Yes, you can utilize some of these creative ideas in your vegetable garden too. Using a planter box or a raised garden bed are great ways to grow veggies in small spaces. I recently read an article in a gardening magazine, where the author used round raised garden beds to plant her vegetables. It was a great idea and the round cylinders made very unique planters and good use of space. For more creative ways to grow vegetables in smaller spaces, be sure to check out this post.

Create a dedicated herb garden with a variety of herbs that can be used for cooking, medicinal purposes, or aromatherapy. If you don’t have the room to spare, you don’t need a dedicated space for herbs, they can be mixed in with your vegetables and flowers. Or, herbs can be planted in a unique container like this picnic basket herb garden. See more about how this picnic basket garden was created in this post.

Herb garden planted in a picnic basket with a scrabble tile herb garden sign.

Create a vertical garden using wall-mounted planters or trellises to maximize space and add a unique aesthetic to your garden. I’m adding some new galvanized raised beds to my vegetable garden area and I’m going to use a cattle panel bent like an arch between two of them to create a trellis for vining plants to grow.

Unique items like the decorative windmill below, or an obelisk, can be used as a structure for vining vegetables to grow on.

Red wind mill as a focal point in a garden.

Creative Garden Ideas Using Natural Elements

Incorporating natural elements into your gardens can create a calming and beautiful space. You can use rocks and stones of different shapes, sizes, and colors to create pathways, retaining walls, or decorative accents. As you can see in many of our pictures here on Gingham Gardens, all of our gardens are bordered in field stones.

In the image below, Leslie, a Gingham Gardens’ reader, used a log to edge her flower garden. It’s so creative and quaint!

Flower garden edged with a log.

Birch logs or any tree branches can be cut to different heights and made into a decorative border. 

Birch logs placed vertically in a flower garden.

Many years ago on a garden tour I snapped this picture of this creative fencing border made from tree branches. 

Fence in a garden made from tree branches.

Below is another cool tree branch fence idea. I took this picture a few years ago when we were visiting Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas. This is an idea that could be replicated fairly easily.

Tree branch fence around a garden at Magnolia Market

You can also arrange stones in a natural-looking way to create a Zen-like rock garden. I can’t take credit for the wonderful rock garden photo below. I snapped the picture on a garden tour and I can’t remember who’s garden it was.

Succulents in a rock garden.

Using natural wood elements like tree stumps, logs, and branches can add a rustic charm to your garden. You can use make a trellis from tree branches for vining plants. Or, learn how to turn a tree stump into a planter.

Ladder made from tree branches with a pink flowered clematis vine growing on it.

Using twigs and woody vines to create supports for floppy perennials or bend to make edging for your garden beds. We’ve all heard of grapevine wreaths, but grapevine can also be used in many different and creative ways in a garden.

Your Creative Garden Ideas

Nancy, a Gingham Gardens’ reader from Michigan shared this idea with us. She collected old doors and painted them in cheery, bright colors. What a great way to create a privacy screen, or simply add some charm to a garden area.

Beautiful shade garden with a border of bright colored doors.

Susan from Colorado spray paints her allium balls (see the bright pink in the photo below) when they have finished blooming and turn brown. There’s even a spray paint made for plants. I’m going to try this on my faded liatris blooms. Be sure to protect surrounding plants from overspray.

Colorful flower garden.

Lois, a follower from Minnesota, used an old louvered door to make this colorful plant hanger. I wish I’d seen this before I got rid of our old louvered doors.

Aqua colored plant hanger made from an old louvered door.

Check out this mounted garden basket that Pam from Connecticut shared. Pam utilizes the posts from an old arbor they took down. They connected wire baskets with cocoa liners, added soil and plants, and then topped them off with a solar light. So cute! 

Basket of plants on a post.

Karen found this old gate in a trash pile. She painted it and added it to her new garden. It’s so charming!

Upcycled gate painted yellow in a new garden bed.

Don’t be afraid to repurpose items that would otherwise be tossed in a landfill. I love the bright orange bench end that Judy from Nebraska uses in her gorgeous perennial bed.

Colorful perennial garden with lots of bright orange and yellow daylilies.

Do you have any 4×4 posts laying around? Pat from Missouri shared her DIY project. She painted her post and added whimsical doodles and words. Freehand looks awesome, but you could also use stencils. Its always a good idea to use a couple of coats of outdoor acrylic paint or lacquer to finish off your outdoor projects so they last.

Colorful flower garden with a artsy painted 4x4 post as a focal point.

I leave you with this picture of Donna’s garden. Donna is a Gingham Garden’s reader and she sent me this picture of one of her gardens. It’s all kinds of charming and she agreed to let me share it. Notice how she filled the otherwise sparse garden with different height containers and other creative touches. It’s a perfect example of using what you have to make a creative garden. I would love to see your creative garden ideas too.

A colorful, eclectic shade garden.

Whether you’re creating a family-friendly, practical garden or a cottage-style flower garden, your garden can be whatever you want it to be. Your creative garden ideas may include little touches here and there, or you may prefer a lot of garden art to add to your garden area, just remember it’s your garden and there is no right way and definitely no wrong way. Experiment and try new things year after year. You will develop your own unique look and before you know it you will achieve the garden of your dreams!

Feel free to save the photos in this post to your favorite gardening or garden decor board on Pinterest. Do you have a creative garden idea? Please share in the comments section below.

Happy gardening,

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