Create an exotic paradise
Add drama to your garden with a tropical design. These evoke warmer climes and offer a real sense of outdoor living. They contrast hard landscaping with lush, tropical foliage; focus on warm, natural materials and turn up the heat with colours like reds and oranges.
It doesn't need to be big - tropical garden designs work brilliantly on a small scale. They simply use a handful of interesting plants to create a focal point, distracting the eye from the modest size of the space. And you don’t need to have a traditional lawn or borders, the tropical garden style works well in all sorts of unusual spaces, helping you make the most of every inch of your outdoor room.
Exotic gardens work particularly well in sheltered areas, as these protect any tropical plants. But don't be deterred, this look can easily be achieved in part, or in full, wherever you live. So let's get planning...
Tools & materials required
Top tips to create a tropical garden
Landscaping ideas for the tropical garden
Like contemporary gardens, the tropical style works well with decking. It adds a natural warmth to the garden and the plants boldly stand out against it during both the winter and summer. We offer a range of decking options, including traditional softwood timber decking and innovative composite. Our composite boards have the look of timber, but their durable design means that they won’t warp, split or rot and they're low maintenance – great for those short on time.
Make your garden space appear larger with an extended deck. This creates the impression of continuity across the space, and so makes it seem bigger than it is. And why not lay the deck boards diagonally for a more unusual look? If you have a raised section, lay these boards in the opposite direction for extra design appeal.
The hard lines of deck boards can be softened and broken up by plants in pots or containers. We love brick planters around the edges of the decking or large pots for exotic specimens like palms and tree ferns.
Planting ideas for the tropical garden
Start your exotic garden by building up a framework of large, tropical plants with lush foliage. Bamboos (Phyllostachys), palms, tree ferns (Dicksonia antartica) and bananas (Musa basjoo) are ideal for this task. Then add some climbers to soften the borders of your space – Clematis (pictured) is always a great choice as it offers year-round coverage. Finally, add lush ground cover by choosing plants with interesting leaf shapes and colours: ferns such as Polystichum setiferum, or plants such as ‘Jack Frost’ (Brunnera macrophylla) or Rodgersia or will not only offer this, but they’ll also help supress any weeds.
Hot jungle colours like reds, oranges and yellows are ideal for this sort of space. Add these fiery shades with Canna ‘Wyoming' (pictured), Crocosmia ‘Lucifer 'and Daylily ‘Summer Wine’ (Hemerocallis) with the occasional cream or white to add a contrasting element.
And don’t forget to add a few plants for fragrance. The flowers of Mexico's Cosmos atrosanguineus smell like chocolate, making an excellent talking point in your tropical garden.
As you'll be featuring tropical plants not used to the British climate, and in need of a warm, sheltered, outdoor space, grow them in pots that can simply be brought inside during the colder winter months. Alternatively, wrap them in horticultural fleece to protect from the freezing temperatures.
Extras for the tropical garden
The exotic garden works well with natural (or natural-looking) materials. So for laying back and soaking up the summer sun, choose rattan garden furniture. It looks great both outdoors when warm and indoors during the colder weather and we offer it across a range of patio furniture, including dining sets, coffee sets and sofas. We love the Cuba Rattan Rocking Chair (pictured) – laidback seating that perfectly captures holiday lounging – that also has a matching armchair.
Twin with stylish garden heating. A chimenea adds a fun Latin touch, while for the ultimate in outdoor relaxation consider investing in a hot tub. We offer them in a range of sizes and with a wide range of fun features, including built-in music sound system, changeable LED lighting and aromatherapy diffusers. And some are portable so you can move around as you need to. Or how about a swim spa? Enjoy some outdoor swimming without heading overseas on holiday – perfect for the tropical garden.
For large outdoor spaces, consider adding a striking garden structure, such as a gazebo or pagoda (pictured). They make a super spot for socialising and a focal point that's sure to be noticed. And while not as exciting, greenhouses provide much-needed shelter for your delicate tropical plants when the winter weather bites.