Cluttered, chaotic cottage gardens aren’t for everyone. Sometimes, the perfect garden is one that’s easy on the eye, easy to keep clean and makes good use of the available space. If you’re inclined to agree, I suspect you’re going to like our list of minimalist garden ideas, so keep reading…
Key features of a minimalist garden
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a minimalist garden is just an empty lawn. The secret to making a pared-back garden look chic (rather than ignored), is a careful balance of unfussy design features.
- Start with a stripped-back colour scheme, with just neutral and monochrome shades plus the colours of your garden foliage. This is what keeps minimalist gardens easy and restful on the eye.
- If you want a grass lawn in your minimalist garden, it’s got to be immaculate. Keep it trim, and ensure it’s tidy at the edges, especially where it meets a patio or gravel. Sharp definition between garden zones is a key part of pulling off stylish minimalist garden ideas.
- Low-maintenance alternatives to a lawn are encouraged (don’t be fooled into thinking minimalist spaces are easy to maintain otherwise)! You can opt for artificial grass if you still want a lush look, but gravel, paving and decking are all wise choices too. If low-effort is what you’re aiming for, we’ve got more low-maintenance garden ideas here. We’ve also got a list of ground cover plants that need less upkeep (and look more interesting) than a conventional grass lawn.
- A crisp, clean patio is the best hardscaping for a minimalist garden. Simple squares keep things visually neat and orderly, but that doesn’t mean boring. This split-level outdoor space in Leipzig, Germany, matches the tiles on the balcony with the lower garden, connecting the spaces in a satisfying way. The stepping stones and cut-out corner also add subtle decorative elements so the overall appearance isn’t too industrial.
- Unfussy furniture is the key to most minimalist garden ideas, so avoid any garden furniture sets that are too spindly or ornate. Concrete pieces work incredibly well in a pared-back space, or heavy wooden benches can bring your garden back to nature if it’s feeling a little cold.
- Keep your planters and pots simple, too. Monochrome containers in geometric shapes usually work best, in materials and colours that match other features in your garden. Repetition of pattern and texture is the way to bring a sense of intentional design into your minimalist garden ideas – you can find more inspiration over on our post about container gardening.
More minimalist garden ideas
Now we’ve covered the basics of minimalist garden design, let’s take a look at some stylish, pared-back outdoor spaces to see how to use them.
This small courtyard uses a minimal colour palette so that it can cram in loads of texture without it looking overwhelming. It’s not quite as restricted as some of the other minimalist garden ideas in this post, but it features a lot of the same principles. For example, a clearly-defined lawn, and matching woodwork that also echoes the lines of the paving and grass. Garden design like this takes a lot of inspiration from the walled-in courtyard gardens that are common in Japan.
Here’s another enclosed garden space that keeps things simple and stylish. Being walled in like this might feel claustrophobic, but the artificial lawn clearly signals that you’re looking at an outdoor area. The narrow bed means that there’s still some room for flowers – and adding a trellis is a fantastic way to maintain privacy without losing too much light. Finally, the cube planter designates a spot for a larger plant, but echoes the shapes and materials of the house to keep everything coordinated.
Split-levels are an interesting way to define different areas of your garden without adding bulky planters or edging. Plus, it’s a practical trick for dealing with a space that would ordinarily be on a bit of a hill. Painting the shed to match the fence pushes it into the background, while the white gravel makes you focus on the lawn. Adding a border to your lawn actually creates the illusion that your garden is bigger, compared to having fence-to-fence grass.
Minimalism is wonderful when you don’t want to clutter up an already-small space. This artificial wall garden (which I believe is just a tile from Ikea) means that, even if you need to keep your flooring functional, you can still enjoy some greenery.
Taking a minimalist approach to some of your garden features doesn’t have to result in a sparse space. It’s also a great way to keep the majority of your garden clutter hidden away in the background, so a more interesting feature can take the spotlight. The materials and lines of this incredibly simple garden space are all oriented around the shed. On its own, the shed might not be that impressive, but tying in the colours and shapes with the gravel and decking make it a beautiful focal point.
You can still be cosy in a minimalist space, just make sure to add slimline cushions, a neutral-coloured blanket or – like this garden – a sleek fire pit. We can see again how a limited colour palette and the repetition of shapes keep things looking orderly and simple.
When I find more interesting minimalist garden ideas, I’ll make sure to add them to this post! Are you inspired by any of these gardens? If you prefer more of a maximalist aesthetic, take a look at our post on cottage gardens, or bohemian garden ideas – I hope you like them!