We’ve been looking at using F Words as a guide to easy garden design and renovation. We’ve already looked at getting great flooring and fencing, so now let’s see what we can do with garden features.

F is for Features

Help for Heroes garden

Concrete blocks make eyecatching features in the Help for Heroes Chelsea garden

Garden features are larger, eye-catching items in the garden. Basically anything that’s not a floor, fence or plant! Some features are actually fixtures that you may want to disguise, while others add interest and focal points.

Plus there are often fixtures and big items in your garden that become ‘features’ for the wrong reasons! I split them into three categories:

Stuck with!

This could be a garage, ugly views, a coal bunker, neighbours overlooking the garden. Anything you can’t change.

Shift it!

Kids’ swings and slide, the garden shed, washing line, last year’s old barbeque. Stuff you need to keep, but which doesn’t need to be in the centre of your lawn.

Skip it!

Scruffy bird table, rotting old bench, shrubs way past their best, old pots and containers with dead summer plants in, natty dog chews on the lawn. Removable stuff you don’t need.

What to do now

Grow clematis through trellis

Grow clematis through trellis

Simple – if you’re stuck with it, hide it! Rapid-growing climbers will do the job. Try Clematis montana or Hedera canariensis ivy. Fallopia baldschuanica, or Russian vine, grows incredibly quickly, so you will need to keep an eye on it!

To hide ugly views or nosey neighbours, try the three Ts – trees, trellis, trailing plants. Use canopy trees which offer a lot of greenery high up but don’t take up too much ground space.

For objects in the ‘shift it’ category, just move them out of sight, or at least out of the main view into your garden. Cover sheds with plants, climbers and a green roof. Put away any toys and the barbeque when you’re not using them.


Anything else needs to go in the skip. Remove all feelings of attachment or any other history connected with these items – just throw them away!

Remove the ugly areas and you’ve made a big start to having a better-looking garden.

Create new features

After you have solved the unsightly problems, add in some new features. Something that makes you want to go out and see it whenever you look out of the kitchen window. It does not need to be palatial or spectacular, but something personal that draws you outside and brings the garden to life.

Everyone’s tastes are different. I have a koi pond. It’s a raised pond where I sit and feed the fish while enjoying a beer at the end of the day.



Gazebos are both practical and ornamental. They feel decadent, and you can find spectacular designs to embellish your garden. They provide shade and shelter for you to host a garden soiree or just sit and enjoy your favourite book.


Stone features instantly bring a classical feel to any garden. Anything from a rockery to a bird bath makes a great garden feature. For more of a statement, try busts and statues.


There’s nothing like the sound of trickling water to soothe your mind after a stressful day. For many gardeners, the water feature is their favourite spot. You can try anything from a rain chain to a full-sized fountain!

Stainless steel

This is a great rust-proof metal that is used in imaginative ways to bring a contemporary touch. Steel sculptures are a modern twist on the obelisk, and their reflective surface makes your garden look bigger!

Plant foliage


And why not try foliage in addition to flowers? Try using the intricate colours and patterns of leaves to complement your feature. My favourites are the marbling effect of Heucheras, the striping effect on Carex and the silver vein patterns in outdoor cyclamens.

So there you have it – use the F Words guide to break your garden into three parts for easy renovation and design!

Read the entire F Words garden design series


You don't need to be a Chelsea Flower Show designer to get a great garden




Help for Heroes garden

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pots and planters
Pots and planters
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