Fairytale garden ideas — 7 ways to create a magical outdoor space for you and your guests

Add wonder and whimsy to your outdoor area with these expert-approved tips and tricks

We love fairytale garden ideas. Here are three of these - a white iron bench with wildflowers around it, a tree trunk with a red door and yellow arch, and a winding path with wildflowers around it
(Image credit: Getty Images / Jacky Parker Photography / Dani Serrano / Martin Wahlborg)

When I was younger, I used to think we had fairies at the bottom of the yard and wished I could join them. I'm excited that I can finally live out my fantasy in real life, as fairytale gardens are everywhere at the moment and I don't see them going anywhere.

If you like the idea of a magical outdoor space feel magical as much as I do, you'll love these ideas from design and gardening experts. Winding pathways, twinkling lights, and fabulous floral arrangements are just a few of their top tips.

For those looking for backyard ideas that are beautiful and whimsical, these will whisk you away to another world.

Fabulous fairytale garden ideas

No matter if you're working with a fairy-sized space and are searching for small backyard ideas or are decorating a bigger space, these will work for all different sizes.

The experts have suggested specific decor throughout, so I've curated highly-rated picks from trusted retailers wherever possible.

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article. 

1. Use soft outdoor lighting

An outdoor space with white paper lanterns, a dark green bush with string lights on a bench with throw pillows on, and a cluster of candles and white metal lanterns on the floor

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Create a dreamy atmosphere in your fairytale garden by bringing in outdoor lighting ideas.

“Use string lights, lanterns, and solar-powered garden lights to illuminate the garden at night,” suggests Tony O’Neill, gardening expert at Simplify Gardening.

“Soft, warm lighting can create a magical ambiance and highlight key features,” he adds.

Tony suggests draping LED string lights over trees, bushes, and pergolas to create a twinkling effect throughout your space.

For example, the JMEXSUSS String Lights from Amazon have over 9,000 five-star reviews, are waterproof, and come in 17 colorful styles.

2. Create winding paths

A backyard space with a stone path winding through it and with green grass and colorful wildflowers growing around it

(Image credit: Getty Images / Martin Wahlborg)

Having clear paths is key for adding structure to carefree backyard spaces like ones with fairytale themes.

“One of my favorite concepts is incorporating natural stone paths that meander through lush greenery and flowers,” says Bob Berriz, designer at Berriz Design.

“For a whimsical touch, we often use glow stones or pavers to create illuminated pathways at night,” he adds.

I think the Oubest Glow in The Dark Rocks from Amazon are pretty and budget-friendly. Plus, the soft lighting will create an enchanted feel that’s fit for a fairytale.

3. Add surprise fairy features

A dark brown tree trunk with a small red door with a yellow arch on it and moss surrounding it

(Image credit: Getty Images / Dani Serrano)

I love the thought of creating surprises for guests in my backyard, and this fairytale garden idea is a fun way to do just that. 

Tony suggests, “Incorporate miniature fairy houses, toadstools, and other whimsical decorations throughout the garden.” 

Try hiding these among plants or place them in open areas. You could do by adding a fairy door to your trees, either by DIYing your own or by grabbing a cute one like the Dmyifan Resin Fairy Door from Amazon that glows in the dark.

4. Plant bright and bold flowers

A cluster of purple, pink, and light blue hydrangeas outdoors, with dark pink flowers in front of them

(Image credit: Getty Images / somnuk krobkum)

It just wouldn’t be a fairytale garden without flowers. These will add color and texture, as well as enhance the fragrance of your outdoor space.

“I also suggest grouping plants with distinct shapes and colors, like foxgloves, hollyhocks, and hydrangeas,” says Bob.

“Placing them in clusters will guide visitors on an adventure through your backyard space,” he says.

Learning how to take care of hydrangeas is easy, and you can simply start growing these with potted shrubs like the Endless Summer Hydrangea from Walmart that can be grown in USDA zones four to nine.

5. Bring in beautiful structures

A cottage garden with a blue arched pergola with green vines hanging from it, a gray gravel path, and orange, purple, and red flowers

(Image credit: Getty Images / Jacky Parker Photography)

Step your fairytale garden by adding stunning structures that can serve as beautiful entryways or focal points in the space.

“Create flower arches or pergola ideas draped with climbing plants like clematis, honeysuckle, or roses,” Tony explains.

For those who like this idea but live in a small space like me, I’m currently growing wisteria in a trellis planter similar to the Arlmont & Co Wooden Planter from Wayfair which is made from natural materials and has a drainage system.

6. Sneak in a hidden garden nook

A vintage style wrought iron garden seat or bench surrounded by summer wild flowers in hazy sunshine

(Image credit: Getty Images / Jacky Parker Photography)

Turn your backyard space into a sanctuary by creating a calming spot to nestle into a book, enjoy your morning coffee, or simply relax.

“Design hidden seating areas or reading nooks surrounded by tall plants and climbing vines,” Tony says. “A cozy bench or swing nestled among fragrant roses or wisteria can provide a perfect escape.”

He suggests searching the best outdoor furniture brands for pieces with vintage designs to enhance the fairytale atmosphere. 

I often spend hours looking through Amazon furniture and recently spotted the Belleze Outdoor Bench from Amazon that has a vintage-style rose design and is made from sturdy aluminum. 

7. Finish with wonderful water features

A gray brick wishing well with a dark brown roof with purple flowers draped on the top of it, two watering can planters next to it, set on a green grass lawn

(Image credit: Getty Images / nedomacki)

As well as choosing lovely lighting, hardscaped water features such as ponds, fountains, and wishing wells, can add character to your fairytale garden in more than one way.

“The sound of trickling water combined with lighting creates an ambiance for an enchanted night in the garden,” Bob says.

Tony suggests adding lily pads, water lilies, and floating candles (the Mainstays Floating Candles from Walmart come with a remote) in order to build on the magical feel.

Even just harnessing a couple of these fairytale ideas will make your backyard feel completely different. 

“With the right plants, paths, and lighting, an outdoor space can whisk people away to a fantasy world,” Bob finishes by saying.

If you love this aesthetic and want to carry on bringing it into your home, learning about fairycore is a great idea.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.