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8 tips to design a minimalist garden

minimalist garden

As an inviting spot to wind down after work and on the weekends, an attractive garden or outdoor leisure space is a critical lifestyle feature for many. Whether you live in an urban or rural environment, a minimalist garden relies on a limited number of design elements to create a simple and uncluttered outdoor space that’s calming for mind and body. 

If you love the idea of having a peaceful oasis to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life — ideally a design that’s quick and easy to maintain — here are some useful tips to start you off.

1. Strategically-planned hardscaping

outdoor wood terrace

Hardscaping is the use of non-living elements in your landscaping, including materials like concrete, wood, stone or brick. In the absence of lush planting schemes, minimalist gardens revolve around well-designed hardscaping features to give them structure and definition. For a clean, uncluttered effect, look to paving materials such as rocks, gravel, brick or stone, interspersed with natural living materials such as wood or bamboo, to construct paths and patios. Depending on whether you prefer a classic or contemporary look, don’t shy away from experimenting with less traditional building materials in your gardens, such as glass or metal.

2. Xeriscaping is key

Xeriscaping is a gardening technique that strives to minimize the need for water systems. Incorporating it into your minimalist garden allows you to choose a few high impact plants for colour and form alone — without having to worry about irrigation issues. Such exotic species can go a long way to creating visual excitement in your garden. Still, many equally beautiful native plants that should also thrive naturally in your setting.

3. Privacy in outdoor spaces

landscaping options

For maximum privacy and peace in your garden, some perimeter screening is all you need. Choices range from carefully clipped, formal evergreen hedging to the striking look of contemporary fencing or a traditional brick garden wall. Whichever you go for, it’s essential to consider the overall aesthetic appeal in light of the changing seasons to achieve a consistent appearance. 

4. Define garden rooms or zones

If your garden space is large enough, create separate zones for specific purposes, such as an herb garden, a dining area, a quiet spot for meditating or even a children’s play area. Using screening panels or trellis, walls and borders, and changes in ground level or texture to delineate separate areas, be sure to select materials that either blend with or contrast against your ground scraping features for the most impactful contribution to the overall design theme.

5. Changes levels with raised beds

raised garden beds

Raised bed gardening can have a significant effect on even the smallest minimalist garden. The different levels guide the eyes vertically as well as horizontally to achieve greater appeal. It’s also a highly practical choice of layout, ideal for planting herbs or vegetables, beautiful flower beds or even a grass lawn area. Edge the area in brick or stone, or use railway ties as borders to create simple raised beds that will enhance your minimalist scheme.

6. Use water as a focal point

A water feature, fountain, pond or pool in one section of the garden can be a real focal point that draws the eye, even in the smallest of outdoor spaces, and the calming effect of running water is well known. Make sure that the workings of your water feature are well hidden, so as not to distract from the natural aesthetic appeal of your setting. 

7. Add interest with container planting

when deciding what to do with a homestead, consider container planting

Another excellent way to introduce subtle variety to a minimalist landscape design is through container gardening – an approach that offers the ultimate flexibility for selecting tubs, pots and containers according to your colour palette, as well as in terms of planting. Introduce a few carefully-chosen specimens, including single trees or lush vegetation, flowers or edible fruit in carefully considered locations and container designs to complement the overall scheme.

8. Adhere to minimalist principles

Take your inspiration from Japanese zen gardens as shining examples of simple, neutral minimalist backdrops that highlight a few chosen plants across the seasons. To the beginner, minimalist gardening may seem like the most natural thing in the world, but in the eyes of many experts, this is the most challenging style of gardening.

The trick to minimalist garden design is not to get carried away — less is always more. Resist the temptation to throw in lots of colours, textures and design elements. Instead, stay focused on the design to create simple, clean lines free of clutter and focus on an open look that is soothing on the eye. The ultimate goal is to create a peaceful, enjoyable, attractive setting that requires hardly any maintenance. 

Image of Dakota Murphey

Dakota Murphey

Dakota Murphey is a Brighton, UK-based content writer. She writes on a variety of topics including homeowner tips, smart tech, travel and business planning.