Garden Design Styles

Discover the diversity of garden design styles—and find the perfect one to express your passions and personality.

Let your creativity loose in your yard by exploring and experimenting with different garden design ideas. Whether you favor the flowery abandon of a cottage garden design, the neatly clipped boxwood hedges typical of English garden design or the relaxing austerity of a Zen rock garden, you can craft an outdoor space that bears your signature.

Garden Design Under $500

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Accentuate Your Entryway

With $500, you can get the most bang for your buck if you focus on a particular area of your outdoors. This home is on a Georgia lake, and adding plants in containers, topiaries and a new doormat enhances the entryway for weekend visitors.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Kathryn Brown Photography

Say 'Yes' to a Sculpture

Select a sculpture that is harmonious with the look of your garden, whether you have Japanese-inspired design or a whimsical folk art style.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of King Landscaping

Electric Chipper

Clean up the yard and create mulch at the same time with this $199 15-amp chipper. Branches and twigs become moisture-conserving mulch in minutes and the bag detaches so you can spread the love immediately.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Gardener's Supply Company

Pressure Wash Paving to Remove Grime and Algae

A strong jet of water from a pressure washer will quickly clean paving around a garden landscape.

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Make Way for Mulch

Surround plants with mulch of straw, grass clippings or pine needles. Mulching inhibits weeds and conserves moisture.

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Take a Seat

Gardening is hard work, but take time to relax in your outdoor spaces with a cafe table and chairs. Scour consignment shops and garden centers for stylish yet affordable tables. If you already have the table and chairs, update them with new seat covers and roll out a new outdoor rug underneath.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Serenbe

Create a Serving Area

Start to turn your garden into an entertaining space, by buying an outdoor bar cart or spending the weekend on a DIY bar project. Set off the spot with a crushed gravel or stone path.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of The Home Depot

Select a Statement Piece

A full landscape do-over is difficult with $500, but you can invest in a signature item for your yard. Think handcrafted and unusual, such as the birdhouses and planters made by River Root Gardens, a Texas company. Jeanette Lara-Lewis uses roots from trees in Latin America for her creations. The birdhouse retails for $300-$325.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of River Root Gardens

Start Growing

You can start working on your garden, by building or buying raised beds. These from Gardener's Supply Company range from $178-$239. Also take a portion of your budget for fresh mulch or pine straw.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Gardener's Supply Company

Colorful Globe Thistle Blooms Impact Garden

Add a distinctive texture to a garden by sowing globe thistle flowers. They are a great addition to the cottage garden or a mixed perennial garden. The flower heads provide good color before opening.

Daylilies Add Color to Bedding Borders

Focus on the borders of your beds by planting flowers that add shape and definition.

Think Life and Light

Having a $500 or less budget won't enable you to makeover your entire yard, so experts suggest bringing in a collection of ceramic pots and adding accessories that fit your style. This trio of torches, along with potted plants, can turn a boring concrete patio into a more interesting space.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Starlite Patio

Conserve Your Water

Use part of your $500 budget to invest in key pieces with future impact, like a rain barrel. With so many rain barrels on the market, you can invest in one that fits the style of your garden or adds architectural details. The Savannah Rain Saver by Good Ideas retails for less than $200.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Good Ideas

Look for garden design ideas everywhere you go. You can even spot great gardens running errands. Take pictures if possible, and if you see a gardener hard at work, stop to chat. Most homeowners appreciate hearing kind words about their garden efforts, and you’ll probably glean garden design ideas in the course of conversation.

Also take advantage of local garden tours. By visiting many gardens over the course of a day, you’ll be able to compare and assimilate a plethora of garden designs. Some garden design ideas spring from an effort to solve a landscape problem, and garden tours provide an excellent opportunity to unearth beautifully clever solutions to common landscape issues.

Public gardens provide another great place to learn about garden design. Many gardens offer educational programs that help you hone your garden design skills. If you’re focusing on a specific garden type, such as Japanese gardens or a water garden design, research local gardens, organizations or landscape businesses that specialize in these areas to expand your knowledge base.

Pet-Friendly Garden Design

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Back Yard Garden Dog Run

When Danna Cain of Home & Garden Design, Inc. in Atlanta was hired to design a garden for a client with a St. Bernard, she had a realization. The dog was more than a pet, he was a family member and she tailored the space to suit his needs as well. “I felt that a dog that large could not be denied, so I designed all walks and trails through the wooded and hilly backyard following the dog's favorite routes, placing people-friendly destinations along the way,” says Cain. “I put a bench here, hammock there and patio deeper in the woods as a destination and gathering spot around a fire pit tucked in a cozy sanctuary.”  We’ve rounded up a few pet runs that second Cain’s emotion. Dog runs can be attractive, safe and fanciful. This dog run was created by FormLA with their client’s Lhasa Apso "Beloved” in mind. 

Photo By: Image Courtesy of FormLA


Given the dangers lurking in many gardens, not to mention severe drought, some dog owners are choosing synthetic grass, like XGrass Pet Grass. It can be a low maintenance solution that drains and dries quickly. This solution allows pet owners to easily wash away animal waste, providing a hygienic area for their dogs to rest and play.

Photo By: Image Courtesy of XGrass

Pet-Friendly Grass in Miami

The community of Coconut Grove, a neighborhood in Miami hired XGrass to revitalize Blanche Park and create a large, clean space for dogs to run and play. The XGrass Pet Grass surface allows the park to stay clean and prevents animals from digging up areas or playing in muddy puddles.

Photo By: Image Courtesy of XGrass

The Perfect Grass

Even though it is made of synthetic materials, XGrass stays surprisingly cool to the touch. The City of Miami chose the product for their new dog run in Coconut Grove’s Blanch Park. Dogs and their owners are reportedly jumping for joy. 

Photo By: Image Courtesy of XGrass

Miami Dog Park

These four-legged friends enjoy Coconut Grove’s Blanch Park that was specifically designed for dogs in mind. 

Photo By: Image Courtesy of XGrass

Mess-Free Grass

This client was looking for a product that would prevent their dogs from digging in the soil and tracking mud into the house. XGrass Pet Grass provides a clean and comfortable surface for dogs to run and play.

Photo By: Image Courtesy of XGrass

Welsh Corgis Dog Run

This dog run in Atlanta was designed by Danna Cain, ASLA and built by Home & Garden Design, Inc. with the safety and comfort of two Welsh Corgis in mind. Previously, snakes liked hiding in the tall mondo grass, and the short-legged pups had difficulty navigating it. It was replaced with a shorter version as well as attractive mazus in between stepping-stones that make up the run. Fragrant plants were used to mask odors, and a bench was installed to create a relaxing area for the owner to sit while her dogs play. 

Photo By: Image Courtesy of Home & Garden Design, inc.

Dog Run Alley Way

The alley of this Atlanta home linked the rear patio to the front courtyard and was enclosed on one side by the house and the other side by a brick wall. A gate to keep the dogs contained separated the front courtyard. This layout created a perfect area for a dog run, but the owner also wanted it to be attractive. That is where landscape architect Danna Cain of Home & Garden Design, Inc. came in. Cain created a space that is not only functional but also easy on the eyes.

Photo By: Image Courtesy of Home & Garden Design, inc.

Back Yard Dog Maze

Cassy Aoyagi, president of FormLA Landscaping, is an environmental horticulturist and designs optimally sustainable gardens with pets and kids in mind. Her dog-design considerations move beyond plant materials and consider the breed and habits of the specific pet. This dog maze was created by FormLA with the Kingsburys’ Lhasa Apso in mind. “Beloved” enjoys running the permeable trails while her people enjoy the roses and the circulating fountain. The decomposed granite trail stays cool under paw and solved a flooding problem.

Photo By: Image Courtesy of FormLA

Pet Safe Dog Run

Cassy Aoyagi, president of FormLA Landscaping advises that dog owners evaluate hardscape options.  “Asphalt is hot and harsh on paws. Synthetic lawns hold heat as well. Gravel can get lodged between large dog paw pads, and small dogs may choke on it,” said Aoyagi. “Decomposed granite stays cool and is not a chewing hazard.” The Kingsbury family wanted a garden that not only gave them a place for meditation and reflection, but also a place that their four-legged family member Beloved would feel at home, too. FormLA designed a dog maze that is low maintenance, attractive and safe. 

Photo By: Image Courtesy of FormLA

Slate Nugget Dog Path

Creating a run for Bailey, a Golden Retriever in Atlanta, proved a natural transition. The large dog had already worn a favorite route in her owner’s backyard so designer Danna Cain of Home & Garden Design, Inc. laid medium slate nugget gravel on the established paths. Not only is it easy on dog and people feet, but also it doesn't get stuck in paws. 

Photo By: Image Courtesy of Home & Garden Design, inc.

Relaxing Environment for Dogs

While there is not too much running around for Bailey who is a little long in the tooth, he loves hanging out watching the birds, butterflies and chipmunks with whom he shares his fountain and shade. His owners are thrilled that he no longer tracks dirt back into the house and that he is happy. 

Photo By: Image Courtesy of Home & Garden Design, inc.

Modern Dog House

When pressed to find stylish and suitable housing for his own dogs, Francisco Loren, a Decatur, Georgia-based architect, decided to build his own. The result was so well received that Loren hung out a shingle under the name of Meset Shop and began taking custom orders. Materials that make up the surrounding runs are carefully considered in an effort to complement the home’s design. Pet-friendly rocks surround this modern doghouse.

Photo By: Image Courtesy of Meset Shop

Sleek Back Yard Dog House

This is a doghouse worth sleeping in. Designed by Loren Francisco of Decatur, Ga., it not only provides your best friend needed shelter and shade but is also an attractive addition to any backyard. 

Photo By: Image Courtesy of Meset Shop

One Dog One Bone

This backyard has really gone to the dogs, in a good way. A pool by One Dog One Bone was installed on the patio that functions as a dog run to provide these best friends a respite from the heat. The durable pools are constructed from the same material used to line truck beds. It stays cooler than other pools and has a UV inhibitor. Your dog will be cool and look cool. 

Photo By: Image Courtesy of One Dog One Bone

Beautiful Synthetic Grass

Sunburst Landscaping of Arizona relies on synthetic EasyTurf for their clients in the Southwest where there are serious water shortages and drought. There is also no need for potentially harmful pesticides or dangerous weed killers. And if you’re greening your home, installation earns LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) points. 

Photo By: Image Courtesy of Sunburst Landscaping

Pet Spaces for Confined Areas

Even if your home is short on outdoor space you can still design an attractive space for your pet. This condo patio designed by Sunburst Landscaping features synthetic EasyTurf and succulents and other drought-resistant plants meaning there is very little need for water. EasyTurf is even endorsed by pet trainer Caesar Milan. 

Photo By: Image Courtesy of Sunburst Landscaping

Dog-Friendly Grass

This run was designed by Southern California landscapers FormLA and is made up of carex pansa, a species of sedge. Visually, a carex pansa lawn is not that distinguishable from a traditional lawn. It is an IdealMow lawn alternative, which needs no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Additionally, this grass will not need constant mowing and it requires 70 percent less water to stay alive. It is hearty enough for large dogs to give it a run for its money. 

Photo By: Image Courtesy of FormLA


Barkitecture is a doghouse-centric design competition that began in 2005 to raise funds for Austin’s pet rescues. The event was conceptualized by Animal Lovers of Austin, Inc. and brings together some of the city’s best architects who compete for categories such as Best in Show, Best Backyard Bungalow, Greenest Design and the People’s Choice Award. Attendees can then bid on the designs for their furry best friends and the money goes to help dogs in need. Win/win.

Photo By: Image Courtesy of Barkitecture

Terracotta Dog Run

FormLA designers incorporated the existing Terracotta tiles at this Santa Monica home’s entrance with a dog run made from decomposed granite allowing their pet to have the run of house. The lawn is a variety of IdealMow grass that needs very little water and is low maintenance. 

Photo By: Image Courtesy of FormLA

Cool Granite Dog Run

The owners of this Santa Monica home and their pet enjoy the fruits of FormLA’s labors – literally. Not only is this garden edible, but it is also friendly to creatures with any number of legs. The fragrant citrus trees provide shade for pets and treats for humans. Growing in the raised bed is chard and Sequoia strawberries. The decomposed granite run stays cool under pup’s feet.

Photo By: Image Courtesy of FormLA

Orange Tree Dog Run

We like how this dog run’s Lilac Verbena creates contrast against the butter yellow color of this Santa Monica beach bungalow and guesthouse. The orange tree provides both shade and nourishment. The scents and the juxtaposition of all these garden elements offer a sense of tranquility for visitors as well as a pleasant place for furry friends to roam. 

Photo By: Image Courtesy of FormLA

Another place to dig into garden designs in at your local library. Check out books and dvds on garden design. Study the great gardens of Europe if you want to create a formal garden or French garden design in your yard. You’ll find a wealth of material on butterfly gardens, and it’s vital to research this area to ensure you’re filling your garden with plants for both adults and caterpillars.

If your region has been experiencing drought, brush up on the principles of xeriscape design. These low water-use landscapes can be breathtakingly beautiful, and if your city is starting to charge for stormwater runoff, xeriscape designs might also help waive those fees. On the other end of water use, you might want to consider developing a tropical garden design to surround a spa area or pool. Tropical plants thrive on abundant water, and their colorful leaves and flowers make every yard staycation-worthy.

Shady yards frequently stymie their owners who long for colorful plantings besides impatiens. If that’s you, dig into shade garden designs to learn techniques to brighten low light areas, such as planting white- and silver-variegated foliage or using light-toned gravel or pavers for paths.

Many gardeners long for lush perennial borders typical of English garden design. It’s not tough to master the methods behind these beautiful borders, but you will need to do some homework to ensure you select the best plants for your region. You could even combine principles of xeriscape design with perennials to create a low water-use landscape that’s low-maintenance, too.

Above all, as you discover and study garden design ideas, don’t forget that you are allowed to break the rules. That’s one way you can express your signature style. Even the great designers did that at times—and if they could get away it, you can, too.

Keep Reading

Next Up

English Garden Design

Learn the elements of enchanting English gardens, and discover ways to translate that look to your yard.

Zen Rock Garden Design

Step up to simplicity with a Zen garden. These low-maintenance spaces foster peace, tranquility, and relaxation. 

Garden Style 101

Design expert and tastemaker Charlotte Moss offers tips for making your garden unique.

Garden Layout and Design Plans

Discover tips and ideas you can use for developing your own garden layouts and design plans.

Vertical Garden Design

Lift your garden to new heights by taking advantage of unused vertical space with vines, trellises and living walls.

Butterfly Garden Design

Plant a garden that caters to butterflies, and you’ll be rewarded with flitting, fluttering color—along with drifts of flowers.

Formal Garden Design

Craft a landscape that stages a formal atmosphere to reap rewards of orderly beauty.

French Garden Design

Give your yard a French accent by creating a garden that’s formal, symmetrical and beautiful.

Vegetable Garden Design Ideas

Learn what you should consider before finalizing your vegetable garden plans.

Japanese Garden Design

Create a Japanese garden that celebrates nature and provides an escape from everyday stresses.


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