Monique Knight transformed her lacklustre outdoor space into a lush garden full of interest using terracing, decking, a garden bridge and a water feature. Follow her design tips to create your own garden space.

Consider solar lighting

Electric garden lighting can create a stunning effect, but it will require some forward planning and can be costly to install. Most garden centres stock solar lighting in various styles, giving you an inexpensive, flexible and simple alternative for a pretty evening glow. Monique’s rock light was a gift, but a similar design can be found at

Check your space’s conditions

Some plants will thrive in most gardens, whereas others won’t flourish without the right balance of sunlight, moisture and space. Native plants tend to be less particular, whereas palms and other exotic species may suffer in unsuitable soil and harsh winds or frosts. As a guide, check what’s growing well in your neighbours’ gardens and do a soil test for acid levels.

Solar lighting; Urns and planters; Leafy plants
ABOVE (left-right): Use lighting discreetly to enhance certain features in the evening and to add to a garden’s ambience; Add individual style with a variety of urns and planters. Try reclamation yards for unique designs; Leafy plants, such as evergreens, hostas, ferns and grasses, give texture and add a spectrum of shades to a border.

Add seasonal colour

Refresh your plot with some easy-tomanage colour – you can’t beat seasonal pots and containers. Soften seating areas with pretty, flower-filled summer tubs, and use potted palms, shrubs or bamboos for mobile, year-round greenery.

Think low maintenance

If you want a garden where you can relax, rather than somewhere that seems to be full of jobs waiting to be done, swapping lawned areas for gravel, paving or decking puts an end to regular mowing. Raised beds make light work of weeding and pruning, while shrubs, perennials, bulbs and evergreens minimise planting, weeding and leaf-clearing. Fill pots with bedding plants for a simple way to add summer colour.

Use optical illusions

If you have a narrow strip of garden, the trick is to draw attention away from the edges. Features that cut across in a diagonal line direct the eye from one side to the other, making the space appear wider, while lush planting at various heights will help soften harsh borders. Divide the length into sections, each with a different feel, to give a sense of progression down the garden.