This is not a how to article, TGG readers… it is an inspirational post about learning to open our eyes, and remember that the reason we garden isn’t just to create good curb appeal, or to impress the neighbor across the street. We garden because it is our opportunity to nurture our own little creation of nature. To help it grow and prosper, to learn from its ability to adapt, and to adjust our expectations when nature throws us a curve ball. Nature offers us so many rewards, and it’s good to remember that it doesn’t fit neatly into a box. In fact, it shouldn’t. Because I believe gardening, like nature, is part of our lives to inspire us to create. To be creative. To think, using simple garden ideas.

So here we go readers, get your garden inspiration on and stretch your thinking and imagination. From the simple garden ideas involving plants and structure, to complex roof gardens, and everything in between and outside those lines… take these ideas, scale them down if need be, and incorporate just a little bit of creativity into your most special spaces!


Nature gives us the most simple garden ideas of all. Learn to take what you are givens and create life. These plants found footing in an old wall, and created a natural garland around the window. How could you use this easy idea in your yard? Perhaps plant some tiny sedums or ground covers in the cracks of your front walk, or turn it around : put concrete steps into your lawn.

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Some of the most simple plants also give you the most drama. Instead of filling your garden with dozens of tiny annuals, why not find a specimen that speaks volumes, in just one plant. A cactus has texture, architectural form, and height. You could also choose a choice blooming shrub, a stunning evergreen, or an ornamental grass to make a statement.

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Another simple garden idea straight from nature! Use old logs as planters or stones with depressions as birdbaths. Also, don’t underestimate the value of moss as a garden plant. It is plant life in its simplest form, but can be a great solution for a difficult area in deep shade. Learn how to grow moss outdoors.

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An easy way to grow in a small space is to grow up.  You can use your existing fencing and outdoor walls or structures. Imagine this vine when it turns deep red in the fall. Stunning, but simple!

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Install a trellis around windows to enhance your homes architecture, or train woody shrubs or small trees to grow up and around.

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This vertical wall garden looks complex, but is actually quite simple. The plants are all foliage, just ferns and ground covers. But they are installed over an existing wall with a hanging garden. You can find a kit that will help you to replicate this look at ‘Amazon’ for less than $25. Photo by ‘Oregon Live’.

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Another simple garden idea… ground covers and stepables don’t have to just cover the ground! Roof gardens are common in Europe and in urban settings. Make that ugly old storage shed or dilapidated arbor the prettiest thing in your yard!

garden inspiration rooftop garden


This might be a more extreme example of garden inspiration, but it is still based on simple principles. Moss and evergreens live off the rain run off from the building, and they shade the structure from the sun. Good for the planet. Can you build a rain barrel, or plant a rain garden?

This gorgeous tapestry is an example of how even foliage plants can be diverse and stunning. If you can’t grow flowers in your yard because you don’t have enough sun, this is proof positive that it shouldn’t stop you from having a gorgeous garden. And the thing we love most about this is that it bends the norms of what’s “allowed”, allows a garden to be treasured by the whole community, and lets us see nature in a creative light. All great lessons in garden inspiration.

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We hope you got great inspiration from these simple garden ideas! Be sure to check out our post on How to Build a Chic and Easy Trellis and How to Water and Care for Air Plants.

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  1. Lillian Lough April 14, 2021 at 10:18 pm

    This is a wonderful site!

    1. Kathy Bates May 3, 2021 at 2:05 pm

      Thank you!

  2. Christina Bertoni July 11, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    I would LOVE to see some ideas for curb verges or curb strip alternatives to scabby grass.
    It’s hard to know the right term, but it’s the lawn strip between sidewalk and lawn.
    Any ideas?

    1. the other robin December 6, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      Hi! This is a fun book that I came across for your exact quandary. Where I’m from, we call that space “the boulevard”, but “hell strip” might be a better term! Check it out!
      You can also google “hell strip gardens” and click “images”. I tend to favor the low-water ones, but where I live, we’re in a drought! So that explains that!

  3. Mary Jessop February 24, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Could someone please tell me how have they planted the roof in the last photo on here, it looks so beautiful, I would love to try to do it!!!
    Yours Sincerely
    Mary Jessop

    1. Kathy Woodard February 24, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      Hi Mary,
      Although I haven’t (yet) planted a roof garden, there is a great article on it in this months issue of Country Style Gardening Magazine, I saw it on the newsstands this last weekend!


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